4 Wheel & Off Road - - CODE1 - Harry Wag­ner BY EDI­[email protected] PHO­TOG­RA­PHY HARRY WAG­NER

SQUARE-BOD­IED CHEVY trucks are cur­rently en­joy­ing a resur­gence in pop­u­lar­ity, but there was a time not too long ago when you could pick them up dirt cheap. These were the last of the solid-axle Chevys, and they have a nos­tal­gia of a sim­pler time be­fore adap­tive cruise con­trol and lane de­par­ture warn­ings. The next gen­er­a­tion of trucks (1988-1998) have plenty of ad­van­tages over the square bod­ies, though, one of which is that they are still dirt cheap.

In the end, what mo­ti­vated Jake Hal­len­beck of Marked Mo­tor­sports to build this truck is the same as what draws so many to the square body: nos­tal­gia. “This is the truck I was driv­ing when my wife, An­gela, 20 years ago,” Jake ex­plains. Al­though he’s had plenty of Jeeps and rock­crawl­ing bug­gies, the GMC still held a spe­cial place in his heart as the ve­hi­cle that sparked his in­ter­est in 4x4s.

Jake’s home­town of Reno, Ne­vada, is called the Big­gest Lit­tle City for a rea­son. With some sleuthing he was able to track down the truck and update it with his cur­rent skillset, which has grown sig­nif­i­cantly since his high school days.

Jake ap­plied some of the same tricks he used on past ve­hi­cles, in­clud­ing LS power and Super Duty axles. “I put Super Duty axles and leaf springs un­der my TJ and then later un­der my JK with 40-inch tires. Peo­ple think I’m nuts, but the com­bi­na­tion works re­ally well on the trail and is sta­ble and pre­dictable on the road. For the price you can’t beat it.”

Nos­tal­gia then mo­ti­vated Jake to add chrome diff covers and dual chrome shocks at each cor­ner of the truck as a tribute to its oh-so-1990s her­itage. The re­sult looks like a show truck at first glance but has enough horse­power and axle for le­git wheel­ing.

1 Power comes from a 6.0L Gen III en­gine that looks like it came from the fac­tory. The en­gine has been up­graded with a Comp Cams cam and lifters, bee­hive valve springs, and a 92mm throt­tle body with a tune via an HP Tuner to make it all work. Ce­ramic-coated Pace­set­ter head­ers route ex­haust gases to a custom 3-inch ex­haust fit­ted with Dyno­max and Flow­mas­ter com­po­nents.

2 The truck only has 116,000 orig­i­nal miles on it, and the in­te­rior is in in­cred­i­bly good shape. Jake went through the ex­tra ef­fort to en­sure that all the fac­tory gauges and cruise con­trol would func­tion with the LS en­gine.

3 This might be the first time you’ve seen chrome shocks in Petersen’s 4-Wheel & Of­fRoad since David Freiburger took over as edi­tor in 1994, but we think enough time has passed to point out the study in con­trasts on this GMC. The Of­froad De­sign solid-axle swap kit and a 1-ton front axle suggest it could do some le­git wheel­ing. At the same time, the dual chrome shocks and chrome diff cover scream “show truck!”

4 The Ster­ling 101⁄2-inch rear axle came with disc brakes and a lim­ited-slip dif­fer­en­tial, so all Jake added was a set of 4.88 gears. The fac­tory drive­shaft was short­ened 11⁄4 inches in the rear and fit­ted with a flange to mate up to the Ford axle. In the front, a new drive­shaft was built with a 1310 dou­ble Car­dan joint at the trans­fer case end and a 1350 U-joint at the axle end. Also vis­i­ble are the two muf­flers that were added to the 3-inch ex­haust to re­tain sleeper sta­tus. There is more post-disco bling in the form of dual chrome shocks and a chrome diff cover. A shackle flip pro­vides room for the 37s and Fire­stone airbags keep the truck level, even when tow­ing heavy loads.

5 The front axle is a Dana 60 straight out of a Ford Super Duty. Jake added a Reid Rac­ing knuckle to the pas­sen­ger side to ac­cept a XXX Trac­tion steer­ing arm on top of the knuckle to re­duce bump­steer. The fac­tory Sag­i­naw steer­ing box was re­tained, but it uses a pit­man arm from Of­froad De­sign. In­side, 4.88 gears were added to com­pen­sate for the 37-inch-tall tires.

“More than meets eye” the

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