When considering a lowering kit for your 1988-1998 C1500 or (OBS GM Truck), you’ll find there are quite a few options out there. Most companies offer parts individually, so you can get creative with parts combinations in order to get your desired results. In our case, we wanted to try and get this job done with performance and ultimate ride quality in mind. Being that Belltech Suspension was a huge part of the sport truck movement back in the ’90s, the company knows a thing or two about OBS GM trucks. With that said, naturally they were our first call when we decided to tackle the suspension on our 1990 C1500.
We decided to utilize the 3-inch drop spring and paired those with the 2-inch drop spindle up front. To achieve our desired drop out back, we went with a flip kit. The flip kit is also adjustable drop because it comes with new rear shackle mounts that when paired with the flip kit will yield either a 7 inch or 8 inch. We topped everything off with Street Performance Shocks/Shock extenders and front and rear sway bar kit.
Belltech lowering kits include all the parts and pieces you need to achieve not only the look you want, but the alignment, and performance and safety you need. These complete lowering kits are your all-in-one-box solution, providing you with all the necessary parts to lower your truck. Made up of a variety of combinations as well as all the installation and alignment pieces necessary to achieve the listed lowering, choosing your kit has never been simpler. And the install is even easier! Let’s get started.
When it comes to lowered trucks, the stance is everything! Without the proper stance, the truck will not look good or handle correctly. One company has been getting it right since 1983—Belltech.
Belltech was at the forefront of the sport truck craze in the early ’90s building parts for none other than the GMT400 trucks. The launch of the drop spindle allowed people to lower their trucks while maintaining front-end geometry. They also addressed the rest of the suspension with shackle kits, flip kits and lowering coil springs. All of these components resulted in a ride quality that hadn’t been realized before now.
We recently picked up a 1996 GMC Sierra C1500 as a project truck. It was a bit rough around the edges but had great bones and potential. A little elbow grease and replacing a few things such as the carpet and body side moldings had the truck looking much better than when we bought it. The next step was to address the suspension, brakes and wheels.
To get the stance and look we wanted, we reached out to our friends at Belltech and Ridler wheels. We knew we wanted it to be low, but didn’t want to lay frame. The folks at Belltech recommended a 4/6 lowering kit with their Street Performance shocks part #688SP. We chose the new Ridler 606 gray with milled spoke wheels wrapped in Toyo rubber to round out the look we were after.
While we were tearing into the suspension, we also decided to upgrade the brakes and steering components. We chose drilled and slotted front rotors and a rear disc conversion from Little Shop Manufacturing. To ensure the truck steered straight and true, new steering components and balljoints were in order from Proforged.
All of these parts combined are going to create a truck that handles as well as it looks. Lets dive into what it takes to istall a 4/6 lowering kit from Belltech.
Check out other Belltech lowering tech installs click here!
Little Shop Manufacturing
One of the most important things you can hold onto are friendships. Friendships help you build character, define who you are and help you along the way through trials and tribulations. Those friendships often influence your hobbies and interests as you learn about new things and cultures. Since their time in middle school, Robert Walden and his friend Kyle Boring have been close. Although they had different lives and interests, they remained very close.
Kyle got involved in the truck lifestyle and Robert began a career in the pharmacy industry. Oftentimes, Robert would see the trucks Kyle was around and absolutely loved the style and look of them. Kyle was building a 1994 Chevy C1500 and had just added a bodydrop but got distracted by some other projects and set it aside. For about a full year, Robert would ask if he could purchase the Chevy before Kyle finally agreed. Robert had never owned any custom vehicle so Kyle was hesitant at first but figured he would lend a hand.
Robert brought the truck home in pieces—a rolling frame, a cab and lots of other small parts. The frame was painted a bright red, and then tires and wheels with the ’bags were installed. Robert’s friend Wesley Copeland helped add the cab to the frame even though there was no wiring or glass yet. Robert’s brother Joshua has a background in bodywork, so he handled all the body smoothing and shaved the doors, gas tank lid, drip rails, third brake light, tailgate handle and antenna.
The interior was half done, with Kyle trying to use a ’59 Impala dashboard inside. It wasn’t fitting properly, so Wesley and Joshua stretched it 2 inches on each side, making it fit into place. The body was a light gray primer and the frame was bright red, so Joshua coated the entire 1994 Chevrolet truck in a bright red mix that matched the frame. The next step was making sure the Chevy would be a solid driver, so an LS6 was pulled from a ’04 Silverado and fit into the engine bay. The new intake wouldn’t clear the hood, so he had to use ZO6 injectors and the hood finally closed. Wesley had to install a custom-built wiring harness from Hotwire to match the right length. After that was wired up, Oilmasters in Tifton, Georgia, built a 3-inch exhaust with true dual Black Widow Venom 250 mufflers. Derek Browing tuned the motor and dialed in the horsepower to put out 410 hp.
Inside the Chevy, Wesley removed seats from a ’90 Chevy Suburban and cut them down. The foam was reshaped and the factory seat slides remained. The seats were stitched up using black and red houndstooth centers. Joshua assisted Robert with getting the black carpet mounted along with the door panels and new poppers for the doors. Robert called in about five friends to get the bed back on the truck and lined up. Kyle and his crew at his business, Boring’s Glass Company, got all the glass installed and road ready. Robert continued to add final touches with a new center console to fill between the seats. Robert added a box behind the seats to house the battery for the Chevy.
Since his purchase of the rolling chassis, Robert has about 3,000 miles on the Chevy C1500 traveling to shows and events all throughout the country. He owes his dedication and passion to his loyal wife Jessie, who insisted he finish the build no matter how long it took.
Robert was able to make Door Dragger a huge success with the helping hands of all his close friends and brother. His lifelong friendship with his middle school buddy Kyle led Robert to purchase and help build his very first truck.
1994 Chevrolet C1500
Club Affiliation: Aftermath
Front Suspension: Michigan Metal Works control arms, Belltech drop spindles, Slam Specialties SS7 bags
Rear Suspension: Ektensive two-link with Panhard bar, box back half frame, Slam Specialties SS7 ’bags, two Viair 400c compressors, two 5-gallon air tanks, Accuair E-Level air management system
Engine: 6.0 LQ9, upgraded cam, springs, rockers, LS6 intake, Z06 injectors, tuned by Derek Browning of Browning Tuning, 3-inch custom exhaust, true dual Black Widow Venom 250 mufflers
Rearend: 9-inch Ford rear end, limited slip, 3:50 gears
Metal work by Wesley “Stick” Copeland
Paint and bodywork by Joshua Walden
Shaved drip rails, door handles, third brake light and tailgate
Traditional 4.5-inch bodydrop
Custom-mixed red paint
10-gallon custom stainless fuel cell
New clear glass by Boring’s Glass Co. in Moultrie, Georgia
94-98 GMC grille with billet insert
LED headlights and taillights
Sir Michael’s rollpan
Tailgate handle flip kit
1959 Chevy Impala dashboard swap
Omega Kustom gauges
1990 Suburban seats cut down and reshaped by Thomas at Top Shop in Cairo, Georgia
Custom built door panels and center console
Interior work done by Wesley Copeland
Retro style billet steering wheel black half-wrap
Stereo: Pioneer head unit, Pioneer components, Pioneer shallow mount 12-inch subwoofer, two HiFonics amplifiers
Wheels & Tires
Wheels: 22×9 Intro Radicalli polished
Tires: 255/30R22 and 265/35R22 Pirelli Scorpions
Special Thanks: My wife Jessie, Wesley “Stick” Copeland, Joshua Walden and Kyle Boring
We owe a lot to the pioneers of this passion of ours. There was a time when trucks, though useful, were boring. As folks eventually started to customize and personalize them, they began looking awesome, especially when lowered. The only problem was the ride quality was often severely lacking. Some people still hold that decades-old belief, saying things like, “I had a lowered truck in the ’70s and it rode like crap, always hitting the bumpstops.”
Well, that was then, and this is now. And the now wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for companies like Belltech, which paved the way with innovations like drop spindles, shackles and axle flip kits. When the ’88 Chevy and GMC ½-ton pickups debuted in late 1987, the custom truck world changed forever and the sport truck world as we know it was born.
From seemingly out of nowhere, bright custom trucks became the hottest things on the streets, eclipsing popular mini-trucks almost overnight and becoming a staple in magazines.
Mark Oja knows this era firsthand, as he was a young Canadian hot rod builder who had his finger on the pulse of all the latest automotive trends in the late ’80s and early ’90s. Like many of us, he was immediately drawn to these new trucks, especially after seeing a certain Belltech ad in a magazine. Mark began dropping trucks on billet wheels and giving them awesome paintjobs, both for himself and his customers, and hasn’t looked back since! He would eventually move his family to the States and open up California Speed and Custom, not to mention become the build manager for Overhaulin’.
Fast forward to last year, and Mark’s wife Pattie was looking for a new daily driver. Mark, coincidentally, wanted to put together a cool truck for SEMA, and Pattie had her eye on one of the C1500s in their stash at the shop. The question now was, how to build it?
Pattie and Mark had been digging through old magazines to get some inspiration, and soon realized that a full-on retro build was in order. Specifically, a tribute to one of the trucks that started it all, the original Belltech poster/ad truck. Designed by Thom Taylor and painted by Pete Santini, the truck would come to define what a sport truck should look like.
For a bit of background, we got in touch with Thom and Pete, who shared their experiences with the legendary truck.
“I was friends with the owner of Belltech and Super Bell, Jim Ewing,” recalls Thom. “Jim Morris was handling their marketing and we came up with the idea to use digital graphics after seeing the GMC Truck Motorsports Syclone at Bonneville. It had these graphics that looked like salt was getting kicked up, but they didn’t just look like traditional taped-off graphics. I created the rendering and went to Pete Santini and asked him if he wanted to get involved, and he said yes. We just wanted to do something different than the heartbeat graphics that were being done at the time.
“I went to a vinyl sign place in Irvine and asked them if they could cut large sections of their vinyl masking material, and they said they could,” Thom says. “They cut the graphics I brought to them and weeded out the graphic part. From there, we applied the masking material to the truck and Pete painted the graphics on. It kinda caught on and I ended up drawing up more graphics for a series of trucks that they would use to dominate the magazine ads.”
Pete shared what was involved on the technical side of things.
“They used something called Gerber paper, which is low tack,” he says. “The regular stuff they were using at the time was too strong and would lift paint. And you had to do it right so you wouldn’t have to use a lot of paint. It had to be thin so I wouldn’t end up with a thick tape line, and it was really interesting to register the drop shadows to get it just right. When we took the truck to SEMA, it was amazing how many people tried to pick the graphics off with their fingers—they thought it was vinyl!”
So Mark quickly gathered the parts necessary to build Pattie’s truck in just two weeks. But, as a skilled painter, he wanted to tackle the color himself! After checking in and getting some advice from Pete, Mark took off with the project and had the digital graphics recreated by Dave, Ryan, and Ryno and Coast Airbrush in Anaheim, California, then delivered the artwork to Mack Signs in Lake Havasu City, Arizona, to have the reverse digital mask cut. Finally, Mark called on his friends at House of Kolor to send some its Tropical Turquoise, an undisclosed shade of magenta paint and Show Klear.
Before laying down the color, though, Mark had some work to do on the body. The flipped tailgate handle was pretty standard fare, but one clever trick Mark employed was to reshape the lower rear quarters to better match the contours of the steel roll pan (which awesomely looks like a vintage fiberglass pan!). And then there’s the lower grille filler and front fender extensions below the Carriage Works grille, which were molded in just like the old days. Once the cab and bed were tidied up, the famous paint scheme was carefully masked off and sprayed in the same manner in which it was done 30 years ago.
The rest of the truck came along pretty easily in comparison, with an authentic, period-correct 4/6 Belltech drop kit and a C-notch bringing the Chevy down to the perfect static height. Now, Pattie did want to bring the truck into the 21st century a bit, so 15-inch wheels weren’t going to cut it this time around. Instead, she went with 19×9 and 20×11 Budnik Argon billets with Toyo Pro XES Sport 245/40R19 and 295/30R20 rubber, but not before having Mark install Baer 14- and 12-inch brake rotors with 6-piston and 4-piston Baer calipers.
As was typical of the era, nothing under the hood was touched, save for the addition of a 2.5-inch Borla exhaust. The same can be said for the interior, which received a simple Pioneer head unit and single-amp setup with four Pioneer speakers and a single 10-inch subwoofer.
Finished just in time for SEMA 2019, Pattie’s truck made plenty of attendees do a double take. In fact, Thom Taylor was admittedly caught by surprise, as he had no idea the tribute was in the works.
“I saw the photos of it at SEMA,” Thom says. “And I didn’t know if it was the original truck or a copy!”
It was only after speaking with Pete Santini that he found out that Mark had built this truck to honor the work of those who created the original “street truck.”