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2004 GMC Sierra Buildup - A Plan

Project Novakane Part II: Getting Ready For Fun

Dan Ward
Sep 1, 2010
Photographers: Dan Ward, Bob Ryder, Henry Z. De Kuyper, John Mata Jr
Ever thought you could make that fun turn by your house going a little faster than normal, only to realize you've just pushed your truck past its limits? You get that sick feeling in the pit of your stomach, your knuckles get white, and usually that turn ends up not being very fun at all. If you can relate to that story, this tech article is for you. Our used and abused '04 Sierra felt more like a school bus trying to turn at speed and with a worn-out stock suspension, puny 16-inch wheels and 275/60R16 donuts, along with no rear sway bar, the truck wasn't raising any hairs on the back of our necks. To get to the bottom of our stock misery, we rented a runway at a private airport and strapped on Racepak's latest GPS data acquisition gear, the G2X, for incredible real-world performance information. This way, we'll know exactly what our stock 0-60 mph, slalom, 1/4-mile, and 80-0 braking figures look like. Once the testing was complete, the data told us what we suspected; our truck was slow, handled like a barge, and was a real buzz kill. No worries, we had a plan.
Photo 2/55   |   2004 GMC Sierra Buildup right Front Angle
Our plan for a revived suspension consisted of dropping the truck four inches up front with a McGaughy's spindle and Hotchkis lowering coil spring, six inches out back with a McGaughy's drop shackle and Hotchkis drop leaf, strapping on some burly sway bars engineered specifically for lowered trucks from Hotchkis, and all-new shocks from McGaughy's. To get the most out of the suspension, we ordered a set of Nitto's new street-legal, ultra high-performance summer tires, the NT05. Project Novakane gets its anti cookie-cutter image and name from the wheels we bolted onto each corner-BMF Wheel's 20x9-inch Novakane's in Death Metal Black.
Handling was a priority, but power was a must. We knew the stock 4.8L V-8 still had life left in it and could crank out some serious power to make the Sierra really impressive, which is why we turned to Banks Power. Known for their extensive research, Banks is no stranger to products that "put up, or shut up", so we ordered a Power Pack, which consisted of a new Ram-Air intake, Torque Tubes headers, Monster exhaust, and OttoMind programmer-basically covering the usual suspects of performance bolt-ons.
Want to know how well everything performed? Follow along and get the facts. This way, we make it easy for you to decide what parts are best for your truck. To see the truck in action, check out for video footage and exclusive autocross action where the old work truck surprised two race-prepped muscle cars!
OK, editors are known for exaggerating and even I can be convicted of pumping things up a tad too much. But, when it came time to fire the ignition and go do some slalom runs, the Sierra went from work truck beater into Project Novakane. With a deep rumble from the Banks Monster exhaust and bulldog-like looks from the lowered suspension, our truck was ready to have some fun. Throttle response was instant, we could hear the throttle body actually sucking air into the intake, and what may have impressed us the most- the Nitto NT05 tires were completely planted. With a treadwear rating of 200, the tires are much stickier and literally eliminated tire spin during hard launches. Despite being designed for lifted and leveling kit-equipped trucks, the BMF wheels fit our lowered GMC perfectly and the deep lip gives the Sierra a unique, race-style look. Handling was impressive, as the slalom times show, we went through the cones 12 mph faster (an incredible feat for just basic bolt-ons). Hotchkis and McGaughy's lowering components worked very well together and combined to give the 4,300-pound GMC a compliant (though for some it may be too stiff for a daily driver) ride with sports car-like turning abilities. We spent just shy of six grand and considering the improvement, we can't think of anything that can transform your truck overnight better than these mods. Next month, check out how well the track-installed AP Racing big brakes, from Stillen, brought the Sierra to a halt from 80 mph.
Time Spent Working: 12 hours
Degree of Difficulty: Intermediate
(If you can follow directions and you have a good assortment of tools, you can do this in your driveway)
Tools Needed:
Assorted metric and standard sockets and wrenches, jack, jackstands, drill and assorted bits, angle grinder, Sawzall, torque wrench, larger hammer, rubber mallet, screwdriver, prybar
Parts Used:
Banks Monster exhaust 48331 $469.06
Banks Torque Tubes headers 48006 $569.00
Banks OttoMind programmer 66053 $299.00
Banks Ram-Air intake 41802 $358.20
BMF Wheels 20x9-inch Novakane in Death Metal Black $450 (each)
Hotchkis front and rear sway bars for lowered truck 2229 $522.95
Hotchkis 2-inch sport coil springs 1914F-disc $75.00
McGaughys 2-inch drop spindles 33002 $329.95
McGaughys 2-inch drop shackles 33037 $49.95
McGaughys front and rear shocks 2050 $63.95
Nitto NT05 275/40R20 tires $279.95 (each)
Total: $5,848.71
(prices from and and does not include tax, shipping, or installation)


Hotchkis Performance
Santa Fe Springs, CA 90670
Nitto Tire
Cypress, CA 90630
Banks Power
Azusa, CA 91702
Summit Racing
Akron, OH
AP Racing/Stillen
Costa Mesa, CA 92626
McGaughys Suspension Parts
Fresno, CA 93722
Racepak Data Systems
Rancho Santa Margarita, CA 92688
BMF Wheels
Orange, CA 92867



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