2009 GMC Sierra 2500HD - Class Act
Subtract the frills, add the cleanliness
Some trucks are fortunate enough to only make forward progress in terms of customization during their lifespans, while others are cursed with constant degradation and the unfortunate need for repair. Mike Gilbert, owner of Mike’s Unique Automotive Collision Center in Ellendale, North Dakota, runs a business that deals with both ends of the spectrum—from building dream rides to simply restoring vehicles to their pre-accident conditions. While he’s no stranger to deranged front ends resulting from run-ins with deer, he’s also no stranger to the custom car and truck world, having built several lifted and lowered cars and trucks, including a ’70 Chevy Chevelle SS and a lowered ’53 street rod truck. With a huge bucket list of vehicles he’d like to build, you could say it’s kind of his thing and that some project will always be in the works.
Having sold their beloved lifted black truck on 40s, the Gilbert family decided the only way to heal the heartbreak was to replace it with something else, resulting in the ’09 GMC Sierra 2500HD you see here. Purchased in New Mexico, the truck started life as a black—yes, black—truck. Having had other show-quality vehicles that were black and knowing how hard they are to keep in pristine condition, Mike decided the HD needed a change. While a color swap from black to white may be more challenging for all of us, it was probably no biggie for Mike and his crew.
From outside to inside, Mike and Mike’s Unique Automotive Collision set out to build a clean, well-built, functional truck. Sure, he could have chosen a route resulting in a crazy, over-the-top build, but in this case, he chose quality over quantity, subtlety over showiness. The biggest exterior cues are the huge 9-to-11-inch CST Suspension lift and the massive rolling stock—22-inch BMF Death Metal wheels wrapped in Toyo Open Country M/T rubber. The biggest interior enhancement, in addition to being kept super clean, comes in the form of Katzkin leather seats. Since they can come pretty advanced straight off the dealer lot, it doesn’t take a revolution to spruce up a truck like the Sierra HD and its stout 6.6L Duramax diesel powerplant.
Enjoying the drive is important for the Gilbert family, but that’s just the icing on the cake. Spending time with the family doesn’t begin when the project’s finally done and ready to be thoroughly enjoyed by all, but rather at the build’s start. Recounts Mike: “I learned to share the builds with my family. Building a vehicle takes the support and enthusiasm from the entire family, as it takes time away from them. Instead of taking time away, it created time with them. It is also important to me that our children leave home knowing how to take care of their automotive needs.”
|2009 GMC Sierra 2500HD|
|OWNER:||Michael and Kristi Gilbert|
|HOMETOWN:||Ellendale, North Dakota|
|ENGINE:||6.6L Duramax diesel V-8|
|INDUCTION:||Stock PPE airbox mod|
|EXHAUST:||MBRP 4-inch stainless steel|
|ENGINE MANAGEMENT:||H&S Mini Maxx programmer|
|HORSEPOWER/TORQUE:||365 hp at 3,100 rpm/660 lb-ft at 1,800 rpm|
|TRANSMISSION:||Stock Allison 1000 six-speed automatic|
|REAREND:||Mag-Hytec differential cover|
|SUSPENSION:||9-to-11-inch CST Suspension kit with dual front Fox 2.0 remote reservoir chrome shocks and single rear Fox 2.0s|
|WHEELS:||22x10.5 BMF Death Metal|
|TIRES:||37x13.50R22LT Toyo Open Country M/T|
|FUEL ECONOMY:||13.6 mpg|
|SPECIAL THANKS:||“My wife—she doesn’t always see my visions, but she supports them, orders parts for me, and does the math when measurements are crucial.”|
|FUN FACT:||You don’t pass yourself going down the road.|