A GMC Sierra rock­ing the per­fect com­bi­na­tion of show & go

Ultimate Diesel Builder's Guide - - Content -

Cog­nito Mo­tor­sports is based in Bak­ers­field, at the south­ern end of Cal­i­for­nia’s San Joaquin Val­ley, an area that ben­e­fits from both the ag in­dus­try and petroleum wells lurk­ing be­neath the sur­round­ing golden hills. To say Cog­nito was forged in the fur­nace of ag and oil field work is to say it like it is, and chances are good if you see a diesel pickup in Bak­ers­field, it’s in­volved in one or both in­dus­tries. Chances are also good its driver runs some kind of Cog­nito hard­ware or knows some­one who does. Cog­nito rep­re­sents the first point in the Triad that pro­duced this par­tic­u­lar truck.

Paul Baker is not from Bak­ers­field. He’s from Boise, Idaho, an­other time zone and geo­graphic lo­ca­tion en­tirely, but one with a strong truck scene to ri­val any­where else in the coun­try. And one where, as in Bak­er­field, the trucks are built to work, and to look good do­ing it.

Baker’s Field

Baker works for Den­nis Dil­lon, a Chrysler/jeep/dodge/ GMC dealer and au­to­mo­tive ac­ces­sories bro­ker in Boise, so he is es­sen­tially a truck builder by trade and was well po­si­tioned to take this par­tic­u­lar bull by the horns. “Our deal­er­ship is ca­pa­ble of be­ing the ‘one stop shop,’” Baker says. “You can buy a truck, have it lifted with wheels, tires, tinted win­dows, cus­tom paint… and have it all done be­fore you take de­liv­ery.”

Den­nis Dil­lon is also the of­fi­cial Cog­nito dealer for the re­gion, so the stars were, so to speak, in per­fect align­ment to start on this build. Dil­lon is the Triad’s sec­ond point.

The 2016 GMC Sierra 2500 was Baker’s cho­sen launch­ing pad for the project. Prob­a­bly 90 per­cent of the work on this truck would take place on the Den­nis Dil­lon premises, ex­e­cuted by Baker and his team.

Along with Cog­nito and Den­nis Dil­lon, Fu­sion Bumpers rounds out the mar­quee spon­sors for this GMC build and rep­re­sent the Triad’s third point. Fu­sion was also a nat­u­ral part­ner for this project since Fu­sion HQ is in Payette, less than an hour’s drive north­west of Boise on the Idaho side of the Ore­gon bor­der.

The Sierra’s Cog­nito un­der­pin­nings re­volve around a 7-9-inch Stage 2 Tow Pack­age. As billed, it is a 7-inch min, 9-inch max lift kit with a 2-inch rear block plus a 4-inch spring lift (us­ing Deaver springs). Sus­pen­sion damp­ing comes by way of front and rear Fox 2.0 Per­for­mance mono­tube shocks.

Baker aug­mented the front end with Cog­nito uni­ball up­per con­trol arms for im­proved steer­ing at alti­tude and Cog­nito trac­tion bars in the rear to com­bat axle wrap out back. The rear also saw in­stal­la­tion of Fire­stone Ride Rite bags to level out the ride while Baker puts the Cog­nito tow pack­age to good use. Steel com­po­nents in­clud­ing the con­trol arms, trac­tion bars, rear Hell­wig sway bar, and the for­ward sub­frame con­nec­tor were coated white to match the truck’s base ex­te­rior color.

As an added bonus to buy­ers, the Cog­nito kit in­cludes braided stain­less brake lines that both look good and serve to im­prove brake ac­tu­a­tion. The whole rolls on Toyo Open Coun­try M/T 37inch tires wrapped around 22x12-inch Amer­i­can Force Fall­out FP8S with cus­tom-fin­ish face­plates that echo the digi-camo ef­fect ap­plied across the rest of the truck. Bright white die-cut let­ters were cut to make the Toyo lo­gos on the tires pop to dra­matic ef­fect. When you take a gan­der be­neath the rig, not hard to do with its lifted stance, it’s also hard not to no­tice the PPE dif­fer­en­tial cov­ers and, if you bend your neck just so, the PPE deep trans­mis­sion pan.


Ap­pear­ances are ev­ery­thing on the big stage—and first im­pres­sions are re­ally the only im­pres­sions that mat­ter. To this end, the truck needed to not look not only ca­pa­ble, but also look good. Baker added an RK Sport ram-air hood, and of course Fu­sion pro­vided the bumpers for the front and rear. The fac­tory grille shell was color-matched white to the body and the insert was re­moved and coated in con­trast­ing satin black. Baker cred­its the color-match­ing and paint­work to Jon Deputy from West­side Body Works in Boise.

Be­neath the RK hood, the Du­ra­max draws air through an S&B dry fil­ter and blows ex­haust through dual 4-inch black satin Mag­naflow

pipes. An Edge In­sight CTS2 en­gine mon­i­tor is mounted in the cabin, su­per­sed­ing the in­stru­ment clus­ter and dis­play­ing any in­for­ma­tion the driver could need.

There are a lot of smaller de­tails on Baker’s truck that serve to tie the whole to­gether and make it a com­pete vis­ual pack­age. The head­lamps were dis­as­sem­bled and color-matched ac­cents added by Ryan Lewin. Rigid In­dus­tries LED in­di­ca­tors were added in place of the am­ber blink­ers. The tail­light as­sem­blies were up­graded with Re­con LED lamps and Rigid Ig­nite re­verse light pods. Rigid LED lamps are also in­stalled in the bumper ports: a cen­tral bank up front and dual stacked E-se­ries in the cor­ners, and sin­gle E-se­ries pods on ei­ther side of the li­cense plate well in back. Mon­ster Hook Reaper shack­les are

clipped to both bumpers to add to both the Sierra’s form and func­tion.

The black-and-gray dig­i­tal camo wrap was done by Brush­works Signs & Graph­ics in Cald­well, Idaho (they also did the wheels). It’s a sim­ple enough color scheme but one that re­ally ar­rests the eye with the macro­scopic grayscale pix­i­la­tion tran­si­tion­ing from the bril­liant Sum­mit White front half. The theme was ex­tended to the in­te­rior, with nearly ev­ery bit of trim re­ceiv­ing a sim­i­lar camo treat­ment us­ing a hy­dro-dip method. The seat­ing sur­faces were re-skinned in Alea black leather with con­trast­ing white stitch­ing along the seams and a mod­i­fied quilt pat­tern on the seat in­serts; a digi-camo stripe runs down the mid­dle to tie ev­ery­thing to­gether.

The in­te­rior has also re­ceived AV up­grades in the form of Ad­vent LCD screens in the backs of the front-seat head­rests and a Kicker 400-watt amp/10-inch sub­woofer com­bi­na­tion tucked into the un­der-seat stor­age in the back row. Baker cred­its his right-hand man Jesse Smith with wiring up the beast, no small task con­sid­er­ing all the aux­il­iary light­ing and elec­tron­ics. Baker him­self rigged up the cus­tom switch mount­ing panel in the cen­ter con­sole. Be­low it all, Aries Style­guard floor lin­ers re­place the fac­tory floor­mats for good looks and greater pro­tec­tion. At the cabin’s thresh­olds, AMP Pow­er­steps have been in­stalled to ease en­try and exit into and out of the truck’s in­te­rior spa­ces.

Given his oc­cu­pa­tion, Baker is no stranger to mod­ded trucks, but as clean as this fin­ished prod­uct is, it’s no­table that this was the man’s first project build for the stage at SEMA. When com­pli­mented on his work, he is de­mure about the whole thing. “You may want to list me as more of a de­signer than builder,” he says, re­serv­ing ac­co­lades for the help he re­ceived putting the Sierra to­gether. “My typ­i­cal work is done from be­hind the desk and our guys in the shop nor­mally build ev­ery­thing. This was my baby so it was treated a bit dif­fer­ently.”

Well played, sir. Well played in­deed. UDBG

This was my baby so it was treated a bit dif­fer­ently.

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