Party Wagon: 2007 GMC Sierra
Letting the Good Times Roll
Building custom trucks can take shape under many facets. Running the course to the point where a project can be labeled completed is a bumpy road of changed minds and altered visions. When Ivan Alaniz, of Baytown, Texas, decided to build a fresh-from-the-showroom 2007 GMC Sierra pickup, he had pictured a new face and a color change—but that was all. The rest of the details would be handled as the proverbial dice were rolled. After all, he was a member of Ground Zero and had many other show trucks under his belt, so this should have been easy. Then the bumpy road began and the party got started.
Now to most people, the new generation of GMC front sheetmetal and plastic is quite an attractive feature versus the previous generation. GM did its homework and built a new body style it could be proud of. Ivan felt the same way too, but his preference leaned towards the new Yukon front fascia. What happened next was the only thing that would make Ivan happy. An ’07 Yukon clip was purchased and the facelift onto the Sierra was handled at Da Shop in Baytown. Ivan’s brother, Nico, also works at Da Shop, and the duo color-matched the new face and nose to the original Stealth Gray Metallic. A static drop was bolted under the truck and 24-inch SLC63 wheels from Billet Specialties were trimmed in Stealth Gray to match the stock exterior color. After a year of driving the Sierra with that combination, the winds of change in Ivan’s imagination began blowing again. The Yukon nose on the truck was left standing and the rest of the truck was massaged to match the new body lines. Ekstensive Metalworks, in Houston, was tasked with adding the Yukon’s rear wheel openings and Yukon Denali taillights to the truck. With that done, the tailgate handle was shaved, a roll pan replaced the rear bumper, and the interior of the bed was fully smoothed in sheetmetal. Back in Da Shop, Nico pulled the GMC apart in preparation for a full, front-to-back color change. After doing the final bodywork on all the new and old skin, a custom blend of PPG from Tasco Auto Color, aptly named Jet Green, was filled in a spray gun and laid down. The final dressing came in the form of Denali grille inserts, a color-matched spray-in bedliner, and a paint-shooting skeleton on the smooth tailgate.
Most people would have been happy and left well enough alone at that point, but as has been proven before, Ivan wasn’t happy with status quo. Round three turned out to be serious, though. Ivan contacted Bill Carlton and his band of merry men at Ekstensive Metalworks in Houston. With a clear plan of attack, Ekstensive set out to twist some steel. The front suspension saw new Belltech spindles and a pair of handcrafted airbag-ready lower control arms bolted into place. Completely custom rear framework was created reaching back to the tailgate from the rear of the cab. A four-link holds the narrowed factory axle in place, which uses Moser axles for added strength. All four corners were fit with air bellows from Firestone with Bilstein dampers. The Billet Specialties wheels were unceremoniously swapped for a quartet of 24-inch Intro Hauler versions. And just to add dramatic effect, the rear wheels were custom ordered in a massive 15-inch width with only 3 inches of backspacing. The math works out to nearly a foot of rear wheel lip. Pirelli P-Zero Nero tires spec out to 405/25R24 and do their best to cover the entire rear wheel and provide traction for the high-horsepower LS engine.
Since day one, the originally equipped 4.8L V-8 under the hood had been running with a K&N cold-air intake and a Magnaflow exhaust as the only modifications for power and sound. More power was definitely desired, so the engine was left in the capable hands of Flaco, at Flaco’s Performance and Tuning in Pasadena, Texas. While there, the engine received the parts necessary to upsize the 4.8L into a more powerful 5.3L. Although the heads were left stock, new valve springs and stronger pushrods were assembled to work in harmony with the .508-inch camshaft Flaco installed. For some entertainment, a 150hp shot of nitrous was included in the engine transformation. Hooker headers flow into the Magnaflow after-cat exhaust, and when the hammer is dropped, the fully tuned, nitrous-injected Sierra came out of Flaco’s shop with 469 hp and running the quarter-mile in the low 12s at 128 mph. A shift kit and higher stall converter were slipped in the 4L65E to manage the newfound power put down through 4.11 gears and a posi.
Not content to listen to all of the new horses galloping under the hood, a completely rocking sound system was stuffed into the tight confines of the standard cab. Most obvious is the custom-molded dash holding the giant touchscreen controlling the system visuals. A Pioneer head unit molded into the custom center console controls the system’s sounds. Power Acoustic amplifiers route energy through Alpine 5.25 and Infinity 6x9 component sets with deep tones firing from the Kicker Solobaric subwoofers behind the seats in a blow-through box. Jet Green covers the majority of the smoothed plastics with the lucky polymer parts being covered in black alligator skin. The spiny skin coats the A-pillars, door panel tops, center console lid, and factory bucket seats. A slide-back moonroof cut through the suede-wrapped headliner allows the warm Texas sun to shine in. Finally, a billet Specialties steering wheel adds a bit of shine to the expanse of green and black.
With the Alaniz brothers roasting those huge rear wheels with ease and the Sierra looking good, they made the long drive to Las Vegas and debuted the truck at the SEMA show. Even though the build was well received, Ivan and Nico still weren’t content. Attention was turned back to the appearance department, and Da Shop sprayed silver flake flames from the Yukon nose right back onto the bed. Now the GMC screamed custom and in the Texas sunshine it looked better than ever.
With his long history building custom vehicles with his brothers in Ground Zero, Ivan has completed what we think is the best of his labors. After three different colors on the truck, two sets of custom wheels, and the lengthy list of modified body panels, Ivan still has one regret. Apparently 469 hp on the spray is just not enough for him. A change may be blowing in the wind again, and rumor has it the truck will be even wilder in 2012. We’ll be awaiting the next iteration if it follows the same pattern of bigger and better modifications that have already been shown. Let’s keep the party goin'.