2003 GMC Yukon Duramax: Dura-kon

The SUV GM Should’ve Built

Mike McGlothlin
Oct 1, 2012
Photographers: Mike McGlothlin
We may never know why General Motors decided to kill the diesel option for the ¾-ton Suburban platform, but it’s a travesty. Not only does a diesel make sense in a 7,000-pound SUV, but the Duramax engine is light-years ahead of what the 6.2L and 6.5L engines were capable of. Fortunately for lifelong GM fan Vince Lloyd, what can’t be bought on the showroom floor can be had in the aftermarket.
Photo 2/10   |   Vince Lloyd’s Duramax-converted Yukon was initially supposed to have a Chevy Suburban body. But after an unfortunate accident occurred near the end of the conversion process, the Suburban body was totaled, and this newer, Yukon donor body replaced it and sits on the GMT800 (¾-ton) Suburban frame. The front end was lifted 2 inches in order to fit the intercooler, and the Sierra front clip was added for looks. Vince’s friends at Ted’s Auto Body in River Grove, Illinois, helped make sure the body, doors, and hood were in perfect alignment.
Contacting Duraburb Inc. of Apopka, Florida, Vince had the company source the ’03 Yukon 2500 XL you see here. Duraburb also came up with an LBZ Duramax to replace the gas 6.0L and swapped a six-speed Allison 1000 transmission for the 4L80E four-speed. But owning a unique diesel-powered SUV wasn’t enough for Vince—he wanted the most powerful SUV on the road.
After getting names like Duramaxtuner.com, Screamin’ Diesel Performance, and Sun Coast Converters onboard, the 600hp Dura-kon was born. Thanks to the health of the donor engine, the only added fuel comes by way of an AirDog lift pump and aggressive EFILive tuning. Optimizing the engine’s airflow and top-end performance is a compound turbo arrangement, which retains the factory variable-geometry turbo and fits an S475 in front of it. A Stage V transmission build ensured the Allison would never skip a beat.
With an LBZ Duramax under the hood and an AAM 1150 rear axle out back, Vince built the SUV GM should’ve. Then he built the truck we all want by adding a second turbo, a built transmission, and EFILive tuning. In short, it’s a 600-rwhp, one-of-a-kind sleeper capable of towing, being an economical daily driver, or acting as a play toy. Imagine blowing the doors off late-model Mustangs and Camaros with six of your buddies in the back…

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