Turning a daily-driven Silverado up several notches
ust because a truck has the basic job of daily driver and trailer puller doesn’t mean the driver can’t have fun and look good doing it. When Sam Derks from Grand Rapids, Michigan, needed a truck to haul his dedicated sled pulling rig, that was his exact line of thought. Eric Merchant, who owns Merchant Automotive in Zeeland, Michigan, where Derks works as a mechanic, introduced him to the world of diesel motorsports and he hasn’t been able to give it up since. With some ideas and help from his friends at the shop and the goal of making a capable eye-catcher, he took a week and some hard work to transform his black 2011 Chevy 2500 LTZ Silverado from well-above-zero into a customized hero.
Derks wanted his Silverado to look a little tougher as well as perform across a variety of terrain, so some choice suspension modifications were selected. Four-inch blocks were installed in the rear and a six-inch Cognito non-torsion bar drop lift was equipped up front to get the Chevy up to the right level. Fox Racing shocks and Cognito upper control arm kits were mounted up front as well as matching Fox shocks in the rear to tighten the handling performance of the lifted machine. Derks also upgraded with a Cognito pitman and idler arm support kit. With the Silverado’s augmented height, Derks went with Fuel 22-inch wheels with Toyo Open Country AT 325/50R22 tires to complete the look and bolster the performance.
Wanting to free up some of the power of the LML Duramax, but not wanting to go over the top with a full engine build, Derks opted for some bolt-on airflow and fuel upgrades as well as tuning. An AFE intake was installed and a FASS Titanium 150 lift pump and filter system paired with the stock CP4 injection pump. A four-inch MBRP exhaust system hastens spent fumes out of the engine. To fully take advantage of the new components and wake up the Duramax’s potential, Fleece Performance Engineering provided custom EFILIVE tuning that puts this motor into the 500-horsepower ballpark.
To handle the rigors of towing and the engine’s increased power, Derks chose Merchant Automotive’s MA700 upgrade kit for the Allison transmission. Consisting of performance grade clutches and steels, a deep pan, TCS triple-disc billet steel torque converter, and an MA modified valve body, this transmission is ready handle whatever loads Derks throws at the truck.
When it came to looks, Derks felt the LTZ package of the 2011 Silverado didn’t leave much room for improvement, so he focused more on the details. For form and function, a Line-x bedliner was sprayed in and a black diamond plate Weather Guard toolbox was dropped in to house tools, straps and other miscellaneous truck stuff. Pairing with the slick black factory paint is dark window tint, blacked-out Chevy emblems, lightsmoked Recon LED taillights and a fully smoked Recon LED third brake light. Inside, the black-onblack leather interior and burl wood trim offers plenty of style and comfort for a daily driver and pull-truck hauler. The only adjustment needed was the addition of the Autometer Sport-comp II gauges in an A-pillar pod showing boost and EGT so Derks can keep a close eye on the LML while towing heavy loads.
With every element addressed that Sam Derks was looking for, he was able to bump up a capable truck into a perfect driver/hauler. With extra ground clearance, plenty of power to tow his puller and spin up some tire smoke when necessary, and clean looks with subtle customization, this Silverado is ready for anything. It doesn’t have to be a drag racer, sled puller, or show truck to deserve some love and attention, as Derks’ daily driver proves. With a little bit of tasteful customization, your daily driver can become your daily hero. UDBG