2000 GMC Custom Chassis - Framed!

A Frame Buildup On A '00 GMC

Bob Ryder
Sep 1, 2004
Photographers: Wes Allison
Photo 2/2   |   2000 GMC Custom Chassis chassis
Many truck owners are happy with the stock suspension upgrades, but many of these can be further refined with the installation of aftermarket shocks, springs, sway bars, urethane bushings, wheels, and tires. These suspension upgrades will greatly improve the handling performance of the truck. There are also those who go to further extremes by altering the ride height with shorter-cut coil springs, 2-inch drop spindles, and flipping the rearend housing over the rear leaves, achieving a 4- to 6-inch drop. Adjustable pneumatic suspension systems (airbags) have also become quite common with show trucks today. Pneumatic suspension systems allow for even more ride-height agility. Currently, the ultimate suspension modification is to lay the framerails on the ground. To achieve this, the front and rear framerails must be cut, notched, or stepped. An alternative to this is channeling the suspension (old school) or performing a body drop (new school).
Darrell Copeland from Clovis, California, was preparing to build his first custom truck based on a '00 GMC when T.G. Granata hooked him up with custom rod builder Ray Wrinkle, owner of Proto-Fab in Fresno, California. Using Wrinkle's mechanical knowledge of both complexity and simplicity, along with his engineering degree, he decided to implement a new, innovative chassis design - a truck that would be like no other on the planet. This extreme '00 GMC scratch-built grounded creation is indeed like no other.
The factory frame was cut at the firewall, and the framerails were discarded from the firewall back. The '00 factory front clip frame horns were then dropped just behind the radiator core support mounts. The front clip was grafted to new 2x4-inch rectangular tubing all the way to the rear. Thinking outside the box, Winkle decided to eliminate any monster rear-frame section step or massive notch, so a unique simple rear framerail design was incorporated. The rear framerails are straight with the rear axlehousing positioned above the rear frame. All-new custom cab mount brackets were gusseted and welded to the framerails. In addition, transmission crossmember brackets were welded in place, and then the crossmember was bolted in. Front and rear crossmembers were then cut and welded into place. To achieve added frame rigidity, diagonal crossmembers were welded in at all four corners of the front and rear crossmembers.
To allow the rear tires to tuck up inside the wheelwell, the rear axlehousing and axles were narrowed 5 inches by Fearless Gear in Fresno. Brackets were welded on top of the rearend housing to locate and secure the QA1 aluminum adjustable rear shocks and custom-built four-link bars. Rear airbag mounting pads were welded in front of the rear axlehousing, atop the straight framerails. Brackets were welded atop the straight framerail between the airbag mounts and rear axlehousing to locate the front pivot point of the parallel four-link. A longer top bar of the parallel four-link was secured on top of the rear airbags, creating a cantilever-action rear suspension setup. A Panhard bar eliminates any rear axlehousing lateral movement. The frame rolls on 22-inch front and 24-inch rear Mondera Vault polished billet aluminum wheels, which are wrapped by P255/35R22 Scorpion Pirellis in front and P305/35R24 BFGoodrich rubber in the rear.
Further modifications include a multi-piece driveshaft supported by a large center support bearing. Kent Performance in Fresno bent and welded up a custom 35-gallon polished aluminum fuel cell located behind the rear axlehousing, and Jared Fullmer at Influential Designs in Fresno bent all of the polished 3/8-inch fuel pressure, return, and vapor lines. Fullmer also bent up the 3/8-inch air lines from the reservoir tank to the eight 3/8-inch Viair SMC air valve manifold linked to the Viair compressors.
Up front, the factory lower control arms were modified to accept the Slam Specialties airbags. A pair of custom upper tubular A-arms were fabricated by Influential Designs, and Belltech 2-inch drop spindles were sandwiched between the upper and lower control arms. A pair of Slam Specialties HS-7 dual-port airbags are teamed up with a pair of QA1 aluminum adjustable shocks, creating and maintaining adjustable ride height and ride quality.
After the frame was designed and built, it was delivered to Jared Fullmer at Influential Designs. The frame was completely disassembled and stripped down to the virgin metal. Portions of the frame were reworked, and the frame and welds were smoothed. Jared, known for his attention to detail, used very little body filler to mold into the frame's welded joints and corners to eliminate any imperfections. Many of the suspension and engine components were chrome-plated by New Age Chrome in Clovis. The crew at Morino's Polishing in Fresno spent endless hours buffing and polishing to bring the frame to a glistening finish. Morino's also polished all the stainless steel brake lines, air lines, and aluminum parts.
Steve Deman of Deman Custom Paint and helper Ed McGraph made a road trip to apply color and graphics to the frame, engine, and transmission. A couple of weeks later, Deman was back filling, smoothing, and painting the rearend housing using Alsa Corporation's Kolor Kings Cotton Candy Blue Pearl paint, which makes the insane frame come alive.
If this is any indication of what the top-half of the '00 GMC is going to look like, we can hardly wait for the bottom half - stay tuned.
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