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1997 GMC Sonoma - Higher Ground

Placing A 'Bagged Mini On A Pedestal

John Mata Jr
Dec 1, 2009
Photographers: Brandan Gillogly
When it came time for David Joyce, of Gilbert, West Virginia, to build yet another Chevy S-10 pickup, he didn't have to look any further than his circle of friends for assistance. David has previously put a custom '00 S-10 Xtreme together, but this time around he wanted to take his newly acquired '97 GMC Sonoma to a higher level. Well, 'higher' is just a figure of speech here, since the roofline of the GMC now sits about eye level to a 5-year-old, but nevertheless, David had the muscle and the know-how to fabricate the mini-truck of his dreams.
Photo 2/7   |   1997 Gmc Sonoma left Side Angle
David, along with his band of brothers, Easton Fourtner and Kaleb Hatfield, started things off by conducting a 33/4-inch stock-floor body drop, then completely boxing and painting the new bulletproof, mild steel frame. Two-inch DJM drop spindles were then set into place before Airlift Dominator 'bags were affixed to each of the Sonoma's corners. An Airbagit four-link has taken residence at the rearend, as did a new RCI fuel cell. When the truck lays out at ground level, a total of fourteen lost inches can be accounted for during the suspension modification process. To top off the new chassis, a gleaming set of Boss 304 20x8-inch wheels and road grappling Nitto 225/30R20 tires have been mounted and torqued onto the GMC's hubs.
Most mini-truck owners end up settling for their sluggish, stock engines, but not David. Luckily, there is a breed of mini builders that not only want their mini to lay frame but they also want it to get up and go too. With some help from his dad, Jim Joyce, David scouted out and installed a healthy 350ci V-8 engine that has been bored .030 over to 355ci and a 700-R4 transmission that made a world of difference in the Sonoma's foot speed. Actually, the difference comes in the form of 250 max horsepower and 300 lb-ft torque-not bad for a truck that most people would initially write off as another gutless mini.
Photo 3/7   |   1997 Gmc Sonoma left Rear Angle
In order to match the GMC's performance prowess, David and crew took aim at creating a sleek and smooth exterior demeanor by first shaving everything they could from the sheetmetal except the hood squirters. The rear end features a smooth one-piece skin complete with a frenched license plate box and bright LED taillights. Richard Higgins was recruited to conceptualize a powerful paint scheme, which he successfully pulled off with the use of a sharp combination of black and candy red hues. Richard also airbrushed a menacing skull onto the center of the cowl hood for an additional touch of aggression.
Inside the cab, David incorporated the two-tone styling of his truck's exterior by having the seats, dash, door panels, and headliner accented in crushed red velvet. Every part that could be pulled, smoothed, and painted from the interior was, and gauge pods were custom fabricated to ensure that the truck's vital signs could be monitored with ease. To increase the interior satisfaction, Stereo Video, in Logan, West Virginia, installed a Panasonic 7-inch flip out monitor and wired up Memphis Audio two-way speakers for mid and high range sound. A custom enclosure loaded with a Rockford Fosgate Punch P1 12-inch sub was constructed and fits snuggly behind the driver seat, which supplies David with energizing basslines and a nicely massaged back.
Photo 7/7   |   1997 Gmc Sonoma interior
As you may have noticed, David's S-10 spent very little time in a shop's supervision-David, along with his closest friends and family, performed the vast majority of the buildup in the comfort of his own garage. The final results are rather impressive, but David had that effect planned from the very beginning. Thanks go out to David's parents, his girlfriend, and each and every friend that offered much-appreciated help and support.



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