2002 GMC Sierra Frontend Conversion - Old Dog New Tricks
Mixing Parts and Styles to Update a '02 GMC
"What's old is new again" is a phrase that you've heard more than a few times before. In the case of custom truck styling, this passage couldn't be closer to the truth. We see constant reincarnations of many different styling cues in custom truck builds every day. Many of which happened for the first time in this very magazine.
If you had to argue this point by using an example, then the '99-'06 GM series trucks would definitely get your point across. They continue to be restyled by truck enthusiasts every day, thanks to the many different front end configurations that were available for the GMT800 body style of truck. Of course, this is nothing new to the GM crowd. It seems that as far back as GM trucks go in model years most of the front sheetmetal is interchangeable to give an owner an updated look—even if you're mostly just interchanging components from different years and brands.
One of our favorite trends for the '99-'06 GMC Sierra is to swap out the stock GMC hood and convert over to a '01-'02 Silverado HD hood. To complete the look, many of the early Sierra owners of that body style update the '99-'02 bumper to the '03-'06 model. These mods can bring new life to an old and tired-looking truck, allowing one to fall back in love with their daily driver. Follow along as we show you how to transform a Sierra with the help of a stack of replacement parts from our friends at LMC Truck and a few basic skills.
Un updated look was provided by LMC Truck with a plethora of new parts, and a Grillcraft mesh grille for the finishing touch.
Before: Our '02 GMC Sierra was in need of a facelift, so we set out to improve its looks by updating the front end with LMC Truck parts mostly for '03-'06 GMCs with the added modification of adding in an '01-'02 Silverado HD hood.
The transformation begins by removing the bolt and clips that hold the stock chrome grille.
Our cloudy headlights and park lights are the next items to be removed.
Next, we unbolted the front bumper from the frame and removed the outer brackets as well.
As soon as the front end was disassembled, we cleaned the area and sprayed a coat of Eastwood's Rust Encapsulator paint over the entire radiator support. The matte finish made it look brand new and provides the perfect backdrop to our soon-to-be-installed parts.
We removed the GMC hood and brought it over to our worktable, where we used a flexible material such as this tie strap to mark the body lines of the GMC hood.
Next we used tape and some heavy paper to mark out a template that we'll use to transfer onto the Silverado hood. Notice that we marked on the template where the body lines meet as well. This is very important when aligning up the template to the Silverado hood.
Using the same tie strap that we made our marks on, we compared the body line marks on the GMC hood with the body lines of the Silverado hood.
Then using the template that we made from the leading edge of the GMC hood, we transferred the pattern onto the Silverado hood.
Now the fun began as we used a cutoff tool to remove the corners of the Silverado hood.
Flipping the hood over we could see that we needed to make a patch to ensure the integrity on the leading edge of the hood.
First, we made a paper pattern that filled the gap and doubled up the hood edge.
Next we cut the pattern out of 18-gauge steel on this throatless sheer from Eastwood and trimmed until we had a perfect fit.
Then, we welded it into place using our Miller electric model 211 welder.
To help maintain a clean and consistent leading edge of the hood, we used a metal coat hanger (really!), as they are made from steel and are a perfect size for sheetmetal work.
After the rod was welded in place, we began to grind the leading edge into shape before heading back to install it on the truck.
The sheetmetal was no longer perfectly flat after the welding process, so the noticeably high spots were tapped down with a body hammer before a small wipe of Evercoat's metal glaze was spread over the corners.
Once cured, the areas were block-sanded down to our liking.
After we were satisfied with our bodywork, a coat of Eastwood's self-etching primer was applied over the work area to prevent any sealant issues. We later followed up with a coat of black to make the hood uniform while we were waiting for the next step.
Moving onto the grille insert, we chose to use a mesh-style insert from Grillcraft. Step one for installing this insert is to cut out the factory cross bars of our new replacement work truck grille with the use of a body saw.
After removing the center bars, we were sure to file down any leftover slag from the cut, leaving the opening clean.
We dropped the Grillcraft insert into place and checked the fitment of the insert before flipping the grille over to secure it to the grille shell.
We marked the holes in the tabs and removed the insert, then drilled holes in the shell with our trusty uni-bit.
Next, place the J-clips that are provided in the insert kit. We finished it off by placing the insert back into the space, and used the provided screws to hold the insert to the grille shell.
To install the new front bumper, we needed to cut off the factory frame hold mount that held the old bumper in place.
Next, using the new brackets from LMC truck, we marked and drilled where the holes needed to be in the frame so that the later-style brackets could be bolted onto the framerails.
Now the new brackets were bolted into place. We left things loose, and later ended up going back and shimming the bracket upward and oblonging the holes to push the bumper outward to get a clean fit. An 1/8-inch difference here makes a world of difference at the edges of the bumper valance.
With both of the bumper mounts set in place, we were able to move on to mounting the chrome bumper to the bumper mounts.
The headlights that we chose to run with on this project are black Denali style from LMC truck that make the truck look new and fresh. To install them they are set in place with the factory-style slide bars.
With both the headlights and the park lamps set in place, we were able to install the grille assembly that uses the factory-style clips and bolt to hold it on. Speaking of which, we were smart enough to order all the hardware kits that were available with their parts. It makes the installation a whole lot easier.
The lower foglamps from LMC were bolted to the chrome bumper prior to mounting the lower section or paintable portion of the bumper assembly. This section is held in place by many factory-style fasteners supplied in the kit from LMC truck.
At this point, the Sierra front end is back in one piece. But there is still a long way to go before we're calling it done. Stay tuned!