1987 GMC S15 - Magnetic Mini

Sam Sales' Laid Out S-15

Mike Finnegan
Oct 1, 2009
Photographers: Mike Finnegan
Photo 2/9   |   1987 Gmc S15 right Side View
There's something special about a truck you've built with your own two hands. When a modification is perfectly executed in your garage, it feels like a small victory. All of the stress, hard work, and good and bad times spent working on your truck forge memories that seem to last forever.
The one constant that flows through all home-built minis, regardless of what state they're from or what style they follow, is pride. Pride in ownership, pride in craftsmanship, and pride in a job well done is what all mini-truck owners strive for. It's a recurring theme in a sport we all love - and something the staff of MT will always follow. The overwhelming sense of pride that comes with creating something special out of metal shines through on the show field. Fortunately, we're able to see this type of pride everyday as we photograph endless amounts of feature trucks for publication.
Of course, the trophies don't hurt either, but for guys like Sam Sales, it's really the admiration of fellow mini-truckers that pushes them to constantly build and reinvent their rides. It's all about standing proud. This month, we bring you the home-brewed combination of a GMC mini and the do-it-yourself ingenuity of a man from Connecticut who has more than earned the right to have his ride in the magazine. Enjoy it, Sam. Here's your 15 minutes!
Photo 3/9   |   1987 Gmc S15 custom Interior
Owner: Sam Sales
Ride: '87 GMC S-15
Hometown: Windsor Locks, Connecticut
Club: Magnetic Minis
The Lowdown
Chassis/Suspension The gloss-black paint on the frame of this cool cruiser provides an excellent backdrop for the custom suspension that Sam designed, fabricated, and installed. The front suspension relies on Belltech 2-inch drop spindles and Firestone 2500 airbags for suspension adjustability. Sam fabricated his own three-link rear suspension, which bolts into the stock spring perches on the rear framerails. The parallel link bars are constructed from 2-inch box tubing, and the Panhard bar is adjustable thanks to the burly 3/4-inch rod ends. Sam also step-notched the rear framerails and constructed a bridge between the notches to integrate the rear 'bag mounts. Again, Firestone airbags were chosen for the suspension, and Toxic shocks provide the excellent damping.
Wheels/Tires Sam chose Lexani wheels as his rollers of choice. The 18x8.5-inch rims are stuffed into super-skinny 224/40ZR18 Sumitomo rubber bands.
Photo 7/9   |   1987 Gmc S15 rear View
Engine/Drivetrain The growing trend of building a mini that is both show and go was not lost on Sam. He sent his 2.5L, four-cylinder engine to Eastwoods Auto Machine for a power-pumping rebuild. The cast-iron engine block was cleaned and decked before having the cylinders bored 0.30-inch oversize. The short block was outfitted with Clevite 77 bearings and a set of cast pistons. The top end of the motor received a Wolverine hydraulic camshaft and roller rockers to accentuate the rebuilt heads. The remaining performance mods came in the form of a K&N Filtercharger, an Accele ignition system, and a 2.5-inch Flowmaster exhaust system. Jim Gavin of Windsor Locks, Connecticut, receives the credit for this sweet combo.
Photo 8/9   |   1987 Gmc S15 engine
Body Mods One of the few mods that Sam didn't perform was the 4.5-inch body drop. Saylor's Shop of Meshoppen, Pennsylvania, expertly put the hack on Sam's mini, dropping the rockers down flush with the framerails. When Sam took possession of his hammered truck, he wasted no time in shaving everything in sight. To his credit, Sam not only revamped the front end of his mini with a Toyota bumper and valance combo, but he also shaved the upper body line from front to rear. Along the way he removed the factory emblems, the taillights, the door handles, the side mirrors, and the wiper cowl, welding all of the miscellaneous holes shut. The grille shell was replaced with a chrome unit taken from a '93 S-10, and the headlights are an APC conversion package. At the top of his mini, Sam cut a 35x20-inch Street Beat sliding ragtop into the roof. The bed was then extensively modified by molding the tailgate shut and skinning it with a frenched-in license plate box and a smooth roll pan. LED taillights were the last item to be smoothed into the custom bodywork.
Custom Paint When all was said and done, Sam repainted his mini for the seventh time with Napa Martin Cyber Green paint mixed with blue and green metalflake.
Photo 9/9   |   1987 Gmc S15 wheel And Tire
Interior It turns out that Sam is just as talented with tweed as he is with paint. To clean up the interior of his truck, Sam installed bucket seats from a '96 Honda Civic and added a slew of billet accessories. The accessories replaced the stock pedals, shifter, door sill plates, rearview mirror, and window cranks. Sam also color-matched some of the interior paneling to the outside of the truck and covered the rest of the interior in gray tweed.
Audio System Sam kept things simple when it came time to put sounds into his mini. An Alpine CD head unit starts things off, and the theme continues on with a Jensen amplifier, Cadence 4x6-inch plate speakers, and 1-inch tweeters installed throughout the cab.
Owner's Quote "My truck has two names. The first name is Dom's Mom and the second is The Green Weeny. If it wasn't for my father, I wouldn't have had a place to build my truck. I also wouldn't have made it to the Carlisle All-Truck Nats where my truck was photographed if Bob and Ziggy hadn't fixed the throttle-body. Without my club's support, there is no way I would have made it this far into the sport. Thanks!"

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