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2005 GMC Sierra Sport Truck Transformation

Turning a 10-Year-Old Daily Driver into a Performer

John Gilbert
Aug 24, 2015
Photographers: John Gilbert, Anthony Soos
A sacrifice in personal comfort and practicality isn't necessary to daily drive a lowered truck for work and play. That's all it took for this Super Chevy editor and friend of Truckin to make the decision to lower and customize the '05 GMC Sierra that was bought new way back when. Unlike a previously built '88 Chevy C/K1500 that was built specifically to lay hard and play hard, this GMC serves as a working stiff. It's been driven over 100,000 miles as a completely stock workhorse. At this point, we decided that instead of buying a brand-new truck it made a lot more sense to bring the '05 up to better-than-new specs. Then, the plan is to run it another 200,000 plus miles.
The sport truck movement is alive, and, well, there's a good reason—they're fun to drive yet retain their practicality. It's a no-brainer lowering a vehicle's center of gravity and stiffening the spring rates will make it corner faster and flatter, and it was time this 10-year-old GMC rode like a true sport truck. The first upgrade was bringing its braking ability back to the excellent brakes it had when new. The downside to the original GMC brakes was at 50,000 miles the rotors warped and were replaced with chain store brand pads and rotors. It was good to lose the shimmy and shakes, but the GMC's stopping power went out to lunch. We put up with this unnerving situation for less than 2,000 miles and then cured it with EBC Brakes. For discs we chose GD Sport Rotors, along with a set of EBC YellowStuff high-friction brake pads. With this combo you can really bear down on the brakes red light after red light, or curve after curve, and not detect any fade. There's no question the GMC stops shorter, but it's at the cost of a little extra brake dust. Well worth adding a few extra moments to detailing the wheels for how we like to drive.
Next in line was dropping the GMC 2 inches in the front and 4 in the rear with a Belltech PN 950ND lowering kit. A known commodity from dropping several other pickups with Belltech kits, we included a Belltech 9904 front and rear sway bar kit. And an absolute coup de grace to the GMC's stodgy old appearance was mounting up a super cool set of Rocket Wheels shod with Falken tires bolted on with Monster lugnuts. The last stop was to Glenn's Alignment and Brake Service in Costa Mesa, California, for a frontend alignment. Follow along to see what it took to get this driver into street fighting shape.
Photo 2/38   |   2005 Gmc Sierra Sport Truck Transformation Belltech Nitro 2 Drop Shocks Pro Coil Springs
1. Splitting this install into two parts made the task seem a little easier. The front will receive a set of Belltech Nitro 2 drop shocks, a set of 2-inch drop Pro Coil Springs with spacers, a Belltech Antisway Bar kit with new bushings and new endlink bolts, as well as a brake upgrade in the form of EBC GD slotted and dimpled stock-sized replacement rotors, and EBC YellowStuff pads. Which will make a huge difference in how the truck rides, corners, and stops.
Photo 3/38   |   2005 Gmc Sierra Sport Truck Transformation Belltech Shackle And Hanger Lowering Kit
2. The rear will receive a Belltech Shackle and Hanger lowering kit, along with another set of Belltech Nitro 2 drop shocks and a Belltech Antisway Bar. The rear brakes we left alone; well not entirely as we sanded and spray-painted the drums black, which may or may not cut our stopping distance significantly.
Photo 4/38   |   2005 Gmc Sierra Sport Truck Transformation Front Shock Removal
3. We started on this buildup with the easiest area to attack. The front shocks came out in a matter of minutes. We removed the two 10mm bolts from the bottom side first, then removed the single nut and discarded the bushings to be replaced with new ones from the kit.
Photo 5/38   |   2005 Gmc Sierra Sport Truck Transformation Pivot Bushing Brackets
4. Leaving out the front shocks for now, we moved on to removing the bolts from the pivot bushing brackets and the endlink bolts holding the sway bar. Then, we loosened the skidplate so we could slide the sway bar out and set it aside.
Photo 6/38   |   2005 Gmc Sierra Sport Truck Transformation Front Hub Dismantling
5. With the sway bar out of the way, we set out dismantling the front hub to change the coil spring. We removed the brake caliper, bracket, and rotor and hung the caliper on a hook out of the way while we discarded the rotors. Next, we removed the nut off the tie rod end.
Photo 7/38   |   2005 Gmc Sierra Sport Truck Transformation Control Arm
6. In order to drop the lower control arm to remove the coil, we removed the bolts off of the upper and lower ball joints from the spindle and let it hang so we could reinstall it later. We decided to leave the brake lines attached so we could use a spring compressor.
Photo 8/38   |   2005 Gmc Sierra Sport Truck Transformation Belltech Coil
7. We set the old coil aside and fit the new Belltech coil with its leveling spacer and fit it back into the upper coil spring mount, keeping the spacer in place while we tightened the upper and lower ball joint. We then installed the new EBC Brake Rotors.
Photo 9/38   |   2005 Gmc Sierra Sport Truck Transformation Brake Caliper Bracket
8. Now that the new coil was firmly in place we reinstalled the brake caliper bracket and left the caliper off for the moment to install the new EBC YellowStuff pads with their easy-to-install pad plates; these pads will provide ample stopping power for our lowered Silverado.
Photo 10/38   |   2005 Gmc Sierra Sport Truck Transformation Brake Pads
9. Our old calipers had to have their pistons pushed back to accept the new pads, and we used our precision method of using the old pad and squashing them down with a large C-clamp.
Photo 11/38   |   2005 Gmc Sierra Sport Truck Transformation Brake Assembly Reinstall
10. The brake rotor, along with the caliper and bracket were next on the list to reinstall, and we threw in a set of EBC brake pads with their easy-to-install pad plates; these pads will provide ample stopping power for our lowered Silverado.
Photo 12/38   |   2005 Gmc Sierra Sport Truck Transformation Belltech Sway Bar Bushing
11. With the brakes, coils, and shocks installed, we turned our attention to the new Belltech sway bar. We greased up the bushings with the supplied super sticky grease pack and slipped them over the bar carefully matching the factory mount holes, leaving them unbolted at this time.
Photo 13/38   |   2005 Gmc Sierra Sport Truck Transformation Endlink Prep
12. We muscled the sway bar into place and used the still loose skidplate to hold it in place while we prepped the endlinks with the required washers and bushings and reinstalled them loosely so we could adjust the sway bar before locking it down.
Photo 14/38   |   2005 Gmc Sierra Sport Truck Transformation Bushing Bracket
13. Using the factory mount holes, we loosely bolted the bushing brackets back into place so we could measure the distance from side to side and adjust where we needed to. Then we tightened up the bushing brackets and endlink bolts.
Photo 15/38   |   2005 Gmc Sierra Sport Truck Transformation Rear Suspension
14. The front shocks, brakes, and sway bar were all squared away now and we turned our attention to the rear. The wheels came off and we assessed which area was next. We decided to remove the spare tire and trailer hitch just so we had more room to work with.
Photo 16/38   |   2005 Gmc Sierra Sport Truck Transformation Stock Front Hanger Removal
15. In preparation of removing the stock front hanger, we made vertical cuts in the rivets with an air cut off tool to make them easier to cut out with our trusty Eastwood air chisel.
Photo 17/38   |   2005 Gmc Sierra Sport Truck Transformation Rear Axle
16. We put a duo of jackstands under the rear axle and lifted it to unload the leaf springs and make the eyebolt and nut easier to remove. With the leaf spring freed from the front hanger, we lowered the rear axle and used a pry bar to get the leaf low enough to work on the rivets.
Photo 18/38   |   2005 Gmc Sierra Sport Truck Transformation Rivet Removal
17. Those pesky rivets were no match for our air chisel and we had them cut off in no time flat. Once all of them were cut, we used a hammer and a round head punch to work the sheared rivets free and were able to remove the stock leaf hanger.
Photo 19/38   |   2005 Gmc Sierra Sport Truck Transformation Hanger Comparison
18. The difference in size and mounting location of the new 4-inch Belltech hanger is immediately evident when the two are placed side by side. It's a tidy little package that does not make use of the stock bracket that is welded to the frame and used to house the two lower rivets of the stock hanger. We left the bracket on, as it's not in the way of anything, but it can be removed.
Photo 20/38   |   2005 Gmc Sierra Sport Truck Transformation Gas Tank
19. The driver-side hanger had the gas tank right up next to it, so the tank had to be angled out of the way. Some advanced planning was required to have an almost dry tank so we didn't have to deal with a heavy tank sloshing around as we loosened it and moved it out of the way. We supported it on a jackstand and steadied it with a 2x4.
Photo 21/38   |   2005 Gmc Sierra Sport Truck Transformation Belltech Hanger Install
20. Originally we planned on just loosening the straps to angle the tank out of the way, but needed more room so the straps were removed altogether. We now had enough room to get the eyebolt and nut off, like before, so we sliced off the rivets, removed the stock hanger, and bolted in the new Belltech hanger. We left the tank loose on the jackstand to be tightened up after the rear sway bar was installed.
Photo 22/38   |   2005 Gmc Sierra Sport Truck Transformation Leaf Pack
21. In order to free up the leaf pack, we loosened the nuts on the U-bolts and loosened the center bolt on the leaf pack. We then lowered the jacks just slightly to create a gap between the leaf pack and the axle bracket.
Photo 23/38   |   2005 Gmc Sierra Sport Truck Transformation Pinion Correction Wedge
22. We slipped in the pinion correction wedge being careful to note that the thicker part of the wedge needs to be aimed toward the front of the truck. Then the center bolt was tightened up and the U-bolt nuts were ratcheted down good and tight.
Photo 24/38   |   2005 Gmc Sierra Sport Truck Transformation Rear Shackles
23. The rear shackles were easier to deal with as there was more room and we didn't have to cut anything like we did in the front. All we had to do was support the leaf with a jackstand and raise it slightly to unload the tension on the eyebolt, and then removed it and the nut from the leaf. Then we had to use a pry bar and the jack to separate the leaf from the shackle but it was an easy process.
Photo 25/38   |   2005 Gmc Sierra Sport Truck Transformation Shackle Comparison
24. With the stock shackle and the new Belltech Drop Shackle next to each other, the difference can be seen immediately. The new drop shackle is adjustable, and has different mounting points up the side and can range the drop from 2 to 4 inches. We went with 4, which is the highest hole.
Photo 26/38   |   2005 Gmc Sierra Sport Truck Transformation Shackle Install
25. We installed the shackle to the frame bracket first and tightened the bolt up loosely to the bracket and attached the leaf. We buzzed the nut down good and tight using an air ratchet, and then we tightened up the lower bolt and our rear suspension kit was done!
Photo 27/38   |   2005 Gmc Sierra Sport Truck Transformation Endlink Bracket Mounting Location
26. The rear sway bay kit required us to drill a hole behind the preexisting oval-shaped hole on the bottom side of the framerail to mount the endlink bracket. With the tank still loose and free to move, we were able to reach the top of the frame to drop in the studded backing plate and mounted the endlink bracket to the studs. The brackets got bolted up to the fame, and the endlinks were mounted to the brackets.
Photo 28/38   |   2005 Gmc Sierra Sport Truck Transformation Sway Bar Install
27. We left the sway bar hanging as we installed the U-bolts and flanges onto the axle, positioning them between the differential and the shock brackets. We had to reposition the U-bolts a bit to get them an equal distance apart to be able to mount up to the bar itself. After we were happy with the position of the sway bar, we tightened down all the bolts.
Photo 29/38   |   2005 Gmc Sierra Sport Truck Transformation Rear Shock Swap
28. Last on our suspension list was to swap out the rear shocks with the new set of Belltech Nitro Drop 2 shocks, just like the front, and tighten those down.
Photo 30/38   |   2005 Gmc Sierra Sport Truck Transformation Bumpstop Swap
29. With the suspension now dialed in and torqued down to factory specs, we had to swap out the bumpstops with the new ones supplied from the kit. The old bumpstop was buzzed out with the help of an air ratchet and was replaced with the new bright red Belltech 'stops supplied from the kit.
Photo 31/38   |   2005 Gmc Sierra Sport Truck Transformation Retire And Trailer Hitch Reinstall
30. Nearing the home stretch, we reinstalled the spare tire and trailer hitch with a quick zip of the impact wrench and our installation was done! We also bolted up the wheels and tires to check our stance on the ground.
Photo 32/38   |   2005 Gmc Sierra Sport Truck Transformation New Year Metal Finishing
31. We went out for a road test and were very pleased with the transformation. Last piece of the puzzle was to take the GMC over to New Year Metal Finishing in Santa Ana and got our 20x9 Rocket Racing Boost wheels with 275/45R20 Falken ZIEX S TZ05 tires mounted up.
Photo 33/38   |   2005 Gmc Sierra Sport Truck Transformation Rocket Boost Wheels
32. Our Rocket Boost wheels are Machined Outer one-piece wheel and precision-crafted from A356 aluminum and topped off with a vintage-style aluminum O-ring center cap. The Falken ZIEX S/TZ05 tires are all-season, nondirectional tread design, with double taper cut tread blocks and staggered shoulder lug grooves. And they look quite good when lined up next to each other
Photo 34/38   |   2005 Gmc Sierra Sport Truck Transformation Tire Mounting
33. The pros over at New Year made quick work of mounting up our wheels and tires, as they are very involved in the local racing and custom truck scene. The installer spooned our tires on in no time.
Photo 35/38   |   2005 Gmc Sierra Sport Truck Transformation Tire Mounting
34. All new wheels and tire combos need to be spin balanced and the installer stuck on the required amount of tire weights to take the wobble out.
Photo 36/38   |   2005 Gmc Sierra Sport Truck Transformation Wheel Install
35. After the tires were mounted and balanced, we were eager to bolt them up and see how the truck would look like with its new stance and new shoes. To top it all off, we included a set of black Monster Lugs and the GMC was ready to make its debut!
Photo 37/38   |   2005 Gmc Sierra Sport Truck Transformation
Photo 38/38   |   2005 Gmc Sierra Sport Truck Transformation
36 & 37. Lowered front and back, with new shocks and riding on rails thanks to the new sway bars and brakes, our GMC was looking like a million bucks. This daily driver was going to handle better, stop on a dime, have a lower load angle for the bed and will look that much more awesome out on the road. The Rocket wheels and Falken tires are on point, the Belltech suspension components along with the new EBC brakes, while not visible, are just as bitchin and this workhorse is now one badass ride when compared to how it started.


EBC Brakes
Sylmar, CA 91342
Falken Tire
Fontana, CA 92335
Belltech Sport Trucks
Sanger, CA 93657
Glenn's Alignment
Costa Mesa, CA
Rocket Racing Wheels
Chattanooga, TN 37406
Monster Lugs
Santa Fe Springs, CA 90670