Building A Functional & Reliable Custom Truck
When it comes to custom trucks, we all have our own ideas about what's hot and what's not. But, whether you're into frame-draggin' lowered trucks, sky-high lifted trucks or anything in between, there's one thing we can all agree upon: dependability matters.
Like many of you, our goal with this project was to build a head-turning custom truck that was full of hot truck accessories and looked good enough to take to shows on the weekend; yet was still fun and comfortable to drive on a day-to-day basis.
New or Used?
When we began working out the details and budget for this project, we looked at a variety of options. We scanned the classifieds for a low-mileage, late-model full-size truck to be the basis for our project. However, after going out to see some of these road-weary haulers, and after crunching some numbers on what it would take to get them back into show-worthy condition; we knew there was only one thing to do… head to the dealership and buy ourselves a new truck.
We know what you're thinking, "most people don't modify a brand new truck." However, as you'll see in the rest of this article, all of the components and accessories we've added to this truck are completely reversible. That means if we ever choose to go back to stock, we can simply save all of the stock components and bolt them back into place. Plus, all of the components installed have virtually no effect on the manufacturer's warranty.The Truck
Days later, we had our truck - a bone stock 2004 Chevy Silverado standard cab. This truck was everything we were looking for: sharp, clean, dependable, reasonably priced and it came with a full manufacturer's warranty. Now, with the help of the people at Goodmark Industries, we were finally ready to begin our project.
First, we handed the truck over to Goodmark Industries who replaced the ordinary stock hood with one of their signature all-steel cowl induction hoods. This custom hood will provide better air flow to the Siverado's 5.3L V8 engine, as well as duct out hot air while the truck is idling.
The truck was then fitted with a Street Scene SS-style body kit including a front bumper cover, rear roll pan and side skirt set. This custom-fit kit adds the sporty look of the Chevy Silverado SS to the smooth, clean lines of our stock Silverado. Finally, it was off to the paint booth where the truck was finished with the classic yellow licks of Goodmark's signature flame paint job.
Supension and Performance
Then, it was back to our Stylin' Trucks facility for the suspension, performance and remaining interior and exterior modifications. We started with a Belltech 2/4 drop kit to give the truck a low, sporty stance that drastically improves cornering and handling. The kit includes 2" drop spindles for the front, a hanger/shackle kit the rear, and a complete set of Belltech Nitro Active shocks.
To install the spindles, we first removed the stock wheels, tires and front brake rotors. Next, we unbolted the factory spindle and removed it from the stock hub. The lower ball joints are removed and replaced with new, flipped ball joints that face upward. The suspension is reassembled giving us a 2" lower stance and maintaining all critical suspension geometry and keeping the truck fully alignable back to factory specs. This is important for performance, safety and to prevent premature tire wear.
For the rear of the truck, we installed a 4" shackle/hanger kit. This kit repositions the whole rear suspension 4" higher than stock by moving the frame mounting locations of the leaf springs up higher on the frame.
To finish off the suspension, we installed Belltech Nitro Active Shocks at all four corners. These shocks are specifically designed for lowered trucks and allow just the right amount of travel to provide a smooth, even ride (eliminating the bone-jarring ride you might have experienced if you've ever ridden in a lowered vehicle with stock shocks).
Wheels and Brakes
With the suspension work complete, it was time to upgrade the wheels and brakes. For the brakes we decided to go with Power Slot performance brake rotors. These rotors are the perfect complement to our ICON 20" inch wheels, and provide the stopping power we need. Any time you increase the diameter of your wheels, it increases the rotating mass and your brakes must work harder to stop your vehicle.
The slots in our new Power Slot rotors don't just look cool, they're actually specially-designed to reduce brake fade caused by the build up of heat and gas between the pad and rotor. Power Slots' exclusive Vac-U-Slots™ wipe the brake pads clean and help release heat and gas build up.
Finally, we bolted on the 20" wheels. But before getting the truck off the lift, we decided to replace the restrictive factory exhaust system with the bold sound and improved performance of a Corsa cat-back exhaust system. This easy-to-install system bolts in place of the stock exhaust, and since we're not replacing the catalytic converter; we won't lose our manufacturer's warranty.
Exhaust and Intake
The new Corsa exhaust system is made from 3" mandrel-bent stainless steel tubing for superior looks and long-lasting durability and includes Corsa's patented Power-Pulse RSC straight-through muffler for maximum performance gains. This system will give our new Silverado a powerful roar on acceleration, while providing a mild purr at cruising speeds without annoying highway drone. Corsa caps off this kit with a beautiful set of polished stainless steel exhaust tips.
To complement the new performance exhaust system; we finally lowered the truck off the lift, popped the hood and began work installing a new high-performance air intake system.
We selected a system from Volant Cold Air Intakes. The system includes a cleanable, reusable cotton-gauze filter element that virtually eliminates air flow restrictions and provides a colder, denser air intake charge to the engine. Volant takes cold air intake technology one step further by including a new heat resistant air intake box that keeps the filter isolated from high engine heat. This will give our Silverado up to 18 additional horsepower, and provide up to 40 ft. lbs. of torque. Volant tops off their air box with a carbon fiber look lid for custom under hood dress up.
With the suspension and performance upgrades completed, it was now time to focus on style. Again, we turned to our extensive product inventory here at Stylin' Trucks to help complete our Silverado makeover.
First, we added a Street Scene chrome speed grille insert. This easy-to-install grille simply bolts over the factory grille and gives the truck a unique, race-inspired look. We also added custom speed grille inserts to our Street Scene SS-style front bumper cover and roll pan. To complement our new bright chrome speed grille, we added a chromed billet aluminum Bow Tie emblem for a cleaner look.
Next, we replaced the bulky textured black factory mirrors with a set of smooth Street Scene sport mirrors that we had painted to match our truck. A pair of red anodized flame billet aluminum door handles helped tie the flame theme together, while a shorty billet antenna added retro hot rod styling.
To build on our race-inspired sport look, we turned to Gaylord's Truck Lids who built us a custom fiberglass hard tonneau cover complete with a built-in Speedstur™ spoiler for a dramatic custom look.
For lighting, we added a pair of street-legal Elegante Euro Taillights and an LED line-of-fire light bar for added style and safety. We were extremely pleased how these two lighting options looked together, and how they gave the truck the classy look of a high-end luxury vehicle.
Turning our focus toward the interior of the truck, we decided to add a Nu Image flame gauge overlay to tie our flame theme from the exterior to the interior. To complete this makeover, we first had to remove the factory dash trim to gain access to the stock gauge cluster. Then, we carefully marked the location of the gauge needles and removed them using the specially-designed needle removal kit included with our gauge overlay. Next, we placed the new flame gauges over the factory gauge face. Finally, we replaced the gauge needles and reassembled the factory dash trim.
For our final custom treatment, we replaced the stock floor mats with a set of custom-fit diamond-plate aluminum floor mats. These mats add a high-tech look to our interior, and their polished finish will be easy to keep clean no matter what kind of abuse we dish out while we're on the road.
As you can imagine, after all of these custom modifications were complete the finish was covered with dust, fingerprints and dirt. To restore and protect the finish back to its original luster, we hit it with a coat of Stylin' ProFinish. ProFinish's advanced polymer formula is ideal for new or lightly oxidized finishes and adds a deeper shine than typical store-bought waxes and polishes. It also coats the finish with a slick coating that prevents against future paint contaminants like tar, bug splats and bird droppings that can stain and ruin your vehicle's finish.
Finally, our truck was ready to go, and since all the components were installed with little or no fabrication, we still maintained our new truck warranty. Now, we're ready to hit the road, worry-free, in a brand new, head-turning truck with all the attention-getting appeal of a truly custom ride.
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