How many of you wanted a Red Ryder BB gun after “A Christmas Story” appeared on TV when you were a kid? It was one of the most influential movie scenes in the ’80s, and to this day it still plays nonstop during the holiday season.
Few things stick around for that long and still hold sentimental value to millions of people around the country. Show anyone in your family a picture of a stock ’88-’98 GMT400 truck, and we promise at least one of them has a great story involving one of them. Either it’s your grandpa who used one as a farm truck his whole life and watched the sunset in it with his wife for the past 30 years, or it’s your mom who met your dad in their parent’s work truck on a Friday night. Everyone has a memory that involves this all-American Bow Tie, and this particular shortbed is no different.
Dylan Eaton from Spring Hill, Florida, grew up with this exact truck—well, a stock daily-driven version of it at least. His dad picked it up from the dealership new in 1989 and drove it until 2008 when he gave it to Dylan. This was the first truck Dylan ever owned, and he wanted to prove he cared about it as much as his dad did. Now after a little over eight years and around $25,000 dollars or more, Dylan is proud to tell the story of this long-time family member. He knew the path he wanted to take when he started customizing. A daily driven, big power, thick tire street machine. Nothing more and nothing less. He wants to jump the truck at any time and have a strong crank. No special fuel and no pre-charging, just a ready and reliable show truck.
Because it was so well maintained since its time on the showroom floor, the exterior of the truck only needed some fresh paint and a few simple upgrades. A Street Scene front grille with billet inserts was installed, the factory bumpers were shaved and painted, the bed rail stake holes were shaved, and a steel roll pan was welded and smoothed in. Finally, the whole truck was painted Viper Red by Donnie Peake of Peake’s Autobody Inc. To get the stance correct, Dylan and his dad installed a 5-inch front and 7-inch rear suspension drop that included DJM Control Arms, Belltech coil springs, new spindles, a rear flip kit, C-notch for the rear frame rails, and Belltech Street Performer shocks. They also bolted on a 1.375-inch front sway bar with polyurethane bushings and body mounts as well as a Calvert Racing Caltrac bar.
The power plant on this sweet OBS is an ’87 GM roller block SBC 355ci V-8 built by Mark’s Performance and Machine in New Port Richey, Florida. The block was balanced, blueprinted, decked and line honed. It was also bored 0.030 over and has a Pro Meth methanol injection system. Eagle connecting rods, Comp Cams nx276hr camshaft, JE Pistons, Total Seal rings and King bearings complete the internals, and it’s all bolted together with ARP bolts and studs. Under the block is a Morosso oil pan. Topping off the engine build are Air Flow Research Eliminator 180cc heads, a polished 192-intake 16-rib supercharger from The Blower Shop, a Devane “Weekend Warrior” 930cfm carburetor, and Hooker Headers. These bolt up to Hooker Max Flow mufflers and flow out the back of the truck. An MSD ignition keeps the timing in check and an American Powertrain “White Lightning” Tremec 5-speed transmission with hydraulic throwout bearings and a SPEC Type 3 clutch wrap up the drivetrain.
All this power is sent back to the 14-bolt 5-lug 454SS rearend with 3:73 gears. Some 17-inch American Racing Torq Thrust 2 wheels are at each corner with a 17×7 up front and 17×9.5 in the rear. The Michelin Pilot Sport 4s tires give Dylan the traction he needs and the SSBC Big Bite brakes stop him when he steps on the pedal. The SSBC rear disc brake conversion and SSBC adjustable proportioning valve give him all the braking power he needs for this beast of a truck.
This truck is on every grown kid’s Christmas list, and you don’t have to worry about shooting your own eye out with a truck like this—although you may break a few necks when you drive by.
’89 Chevy Cheyenne C1500
Spring Hill, Florida
Premier issue number one of OBS Builder’s Guide was so successful, we’re going to do it again! From the editors of Street Trucks Magazine comes the all-composing guide to restoring and customizing one of the most popular body style trucks ever released. Chevrolet’s 88-98 Fullsize trucks and SUVs spawned a massive sub-culture of passionate enthusiasts, artists, and gearheads worldwide. With over 800,000 OBS (Old Body Style) trucks built and sold within the first year of production, it’s easy to see why this is one of America’s most beloved bodies. The OBS Builders Guide is here to document this trend-setting truck and bring you the best how-to tech, feature stories, manufacture spotlights, event coverage, and new product reveals that relate. In this book you will see things like:
We walk you through the 5.3 LS install into Travis’ ’99 Tahoe. This video will explain what parts we used, the main steps we took and the outcome. It is almost like these trucks were made specifically to LS swap as it is fairly easy to do and fit well.
The decade in which you grew up affects your relationship with CHEVY TRUCKS. Maybe your dad, grandpa or uncle had an older C10 model that was kept somewhat stock or had very minimal modifications made to it. More than likely, the odds of gramp’s truck being in stock condition would be more plausible than your pops keeping his ride free of accessories. Having an old pickup around really influences you as a kid and creates memories that stick around into adulthood.
However, if you were reaching driving age when the fourth generation of full-size Chevy pickups was being unleashed onto the public, right around the very late ’80s, you just might have a naturally stronger attraction to this new wave of truck style. The ’90s were on the horizon, and so was a new style of, well, everything. Aside from the “hip” new fashion and music trends, there was a new type of truck on the streets for cruising around with your friends. The evolution of the modern American truck had arrived.
Held in Glendale, Arizona, the world-famous Dino’s Git Down brings together more than 1,600 Chevrolet/GMC trucks from all over the U.S. Originally, this event only accepted Chevy trucks between the years of 1947-1987. After enough requests from the GMT400 crowd, however, Dino and crew decided to open the field this year to include Chevy OBS trucks and SUVs. This gathering is the elite of elite when it comes to quality and craftsmanship, and it’s strictly Chevy/GMC trucks only. That’s right—no Fords allowed!
Dino Battilana is a hardworking business owner during the day and one of the most hardcore Bow Tie believers in the country. Building badass trucks and having friends over to your house for a cookout is satisfying enough for most men, but not for Dino. A once-per-year gathering of gearheads with limits on the line-up and no money needed is more his style. No registration and no admission are necessary—just show up hungry and be ready to talk trucks! For the last 10 years, he has been doing that exact concept, and the whole country is taking notice.
Even though the event was promoted as a single-day event, there were plenty of other cool things to do before and after the show, including a pre-show mixer on Thursday and a Saturday morning cruise to Switch Suspension for tacos! Saturday night is the official 21-and-over after party where things get a little crazy, but more fun can’t be had anywhere else. Try and describe a better weekend than that! Be sure to follow them online so you don’t miss out on your chance to be a part of the biggest free C10 event nationwide. Now let’s check out the OBS pics!
Add modern performance to a pickup that was designed for utility. With QA1’s bolt-on front and rear systems, not only can you lower your C1500, but you’ll also have ri de height adjustability on all four corners, giving you that perfect, level stance. The front systems offer up to 5-inch of drop with drop spindles, and control arms provide more room for wider wheels and tires. The rear system offers up to 7 inches of drop, and the torque arm design reduces binding found in other four-link systems.
Front: $2,298.66 Rear: $2,482.87
Bolt-on coilover suspension systems dramatically improve handling and ride quality when lowering a truck to the 4/6 level or lower. The wishbone multi-link rear suspension, heavy-duty C-notches, tubular A-arms, drop spindles, HQ adjustable coilovers, Musclebar front sway bar, Delrin bushings and R-joints all work together to create the best ride imaginable. And best yet, this kit is also available in an air-ride configuration.
This deluxe lowering kit for ’88-’91 Chevy/GMC C1500 includes light duty spindles. Easy to install in your driveway!
Lower your sport truck or SUV right the first time. Belltech’s complete lowering kits include all the parts and pieces you need to achieve not only the look you want, but the alignment, performance and safety you need.
This aluminum 2.5-inch drop spindle for GMT400 GM C/K 1500 2WD truck and SUV models features an OEM style GMT800 sealed hub conversion in dual 5×5, 5×4.75 or OEM 6×5.5 lug patterns. The Modular Truck spindles are also ABS-ready for ’95-’98 factory equipped trucks. The anodized finish will keep these beauties looking and performing great over the long haul.
CB Chassis Products
Aldan C1500 suspension packages are designed to convert your stock, front suspension to fully ride-height adjustable coilovers with adjustable shock absorbers in the rear. They’re designed for the GMT400 and C1500 2WD truck chassis.
This Air Suspension System is specifically designed for the ’88-’98 Chevrolet and GMC C1500 truck and includes everything needed to create modern drivability with an ultra-low show stance. The package contains front upper and lower control arms, front CoolRide with HQ Series shocks, front sway bar, drop spindles, rear wishbone with C-notches and Shockwaves.
OBS Chevy Racing billet control arms are made out of T-6 6061 billet aluminum and designed to have the utmost in adjustability, strength, ease of use and cool style. Imagine being able to change your alignment in a few minutes depending on the activity. Simply jack up the truck a little to relieve pressure, loosen the top rod end bolts, change out your desired spacer, and you’re ready to go. These arms are great for autocross, road course racing and lowered trucks wanting to get that perfect alignment with style. Correct ball joint angle for lowered trucks, solid billet construction, solid connection through high-end rod ends.
OBS Chevy Racing
Looking to lay out your ’88-’98 full size truck on some 24s? Then you’ll be needing these! Includes one pair of upper and lower control arms, built-in lower bag brackets, built-in lower shock brackets and ball joints.
CB Chassis Products
These 3-inch drop springs from CPP are available for a simple factory swap. Pair it with the company’s rear flip kit and shackles for a full 4/6 drop.
Classic Performance Products
The combination of Calmax arms and coils springs up front net you out 4 inches of drop without wheel clearance or alignment issues. and we put this together with our DJM 6-inch axle flip kit.
StreetGRIP is a high-performance 4/6 drop lowering suspension system for ’88-’98 C1500 pickups. Like all StreetGRIP systems, Ridetech focuses on the areas of the OE suspension that need improvement rather than upgrading everything. In the case of ’88-’98 C1500s, that means keeping the factory control arms and leaf springs.
Looking to bag your OBS for an affordable price? AVS makes it easy with this complete all-in-one kit.
AVS on the Web
MaxTrac Suspension K330546 has an all-in-one solution for your 2WD ’88-’98 Chevy Silverado 1500. MaxTrac drop kits use 2-inch front spindles, 2-inch lowering springs as well as MaxTrac shocks for the front. The rear lowering uses a 6-inch rear flip kit with shock extenders, a rear C-frame support and MaxTrac shocks.
This complete air-ride chassis for “Old Body Style” single cab 2WD GM pickups is engineered to provide the best ride quality and performance for a full-sized ‘bagged truck. Designed from the ground up with all new suspension geometry and modern drivetrain adaptability, this system also allows for large diameter wheels and most aftermarket engine accessories without worrying about any weird fitment surprises.
GSI Machine & Fabrication
In this kit, the control arms are narrowed 1-inch on each side for proper alignment; the ball joints are pushed forward ⅞-inch to re-center wheel; bushings are polyurethane, utilizing Moog ball joints; and sway bar heim attachments are included, along with Aldan American Direct bolt-in coils with your choice of spring rate.
This tightly engineered 6-inch suspension lift kit is designed around two heavy duty upper A-arms, one-piece ¼-inch laser cut high clearance crossmembers and replacement steering knuckles. This combination offers zero track width change, unlike many knuckle kits on the market. Clears a 35×12.5-inch with 20×9 wheels and 5 ¼-inch backspacing.
This complete rear system incorporates both of the bolt-on four-link and cantilever kits together. Fabricated with the quality you’ve come to expect from KP Components, it is able to lay out most 24-inch wheel and tire combinations and offers you about 12 inches of travel right out of the box
MaxTrac offers a 3-inch lifting front coil spring to easily raise your 2WD Chevy Silverado 1500 from the factory stance. MaxTrac also offers a 4-inch lifting block kit for your 2WD ’88-’98 Chevy Silverado 1500. An alternative is the company’s 2-inch rear lifting shackles. Not only are these easier to install than blocks, but they can be combined with a rear block to get additional lift or be used to simply fine tune the ride height of the rear.
This rear-only suspension kit from React converts the factory suspension in your 88-98 Chevy truck to a parallel 4-link setup with a panhard bar, c-notch, u-bolts and a rear frame crossmember. This kit is adjustable down to a 7-inch drop in the rear. All made in the USA, so you know it’s solid quality.
QA1 Rod Ends for Panhard Bar
Satin Black Powdercoated
Run up to 10-inch wide wheels
Classic Parts of America price: $199.95
LMC Truck price: $119.95 – $179.95
TMI now offers high-value interior automotive components including complete seats with brackets, interior center consoles, carpet kits, all new door panels, even a new headliner. Currently in production for ’88-’94 Chevy C1500 standard cab trucks.
Classic Parts of America price: $244.95
Classic Parts of America price: $299.95
Classic Parts of America price: $399.95
Classic Parts of America price: $94.95
Classic Parts of America price: $24.95
Classic Dash price: $129
Dakota Digital price: $795
Corbeau Racing price: $349
BluePrint Engines offers a direct replacement 383ci Stroker crate engine for ’88-’98 Chevy trucks. This is a small block GM style, fully dressed long block with carburetor. Aluminum heads and a roller cam are preinstalled and drop-in ready.
Borgeson steering shaft for full size Chevy and GMC trucks connects to the factory column and OEM steering box. It includes a complete rag joint and billet steel universal joint and weights 5.3 pounds.
Borgeson Universal Company
This brake kit will work with any HD brake spindle, such as McGaughy’s, Street Edge, Belltech and even stock. You will receive a template and instructions for modifying your spindle, which requires cutting of the caliper ears and drilling and tapping for the caliper mounting bracket.
Pro Performance offers this new brake kit for ’88-’98 Chevy trucks with factory rear ends and does not require machining to the axle or rotors. It uses new calipers, not rebuilt ones. It features laser-cut zinc plated caliper brackets and is designed to fit most 18-inch wheels and larger.
These kits are designed to provide a 30-50% increase in fuel economy, a low RPM cruising for greatly reduced driver fatigue, an improved highway driving experience and reduced engine wear leading to longer engine life with cooler engine operating temperatures.
This 14-inch C1500 kit utilizes Wilwood 6-piston FNSL calipers, aluminum hubs, hats and machined 6061 AL brackets that bolt directly to the factory spindles or drop spindles without drilling. Designed to fit ’88-’00 full-size 2WD GM trucks and SUVs.
Little Shop Mfg.
Works with both ½- and ¾-ton models. Includes motor mounts, frame brackets, transmission crossmember, transmission mount and hardware.
This 4WD mount kit locates the engine at the factory bell housing location so you can use your original transmission, transfer case and crossmember.
These kits come standard or machined for the oil bypass valve to use with displacement on demand or variable valve timing. They include a new full-length windage tray, pickup tube, hardware, gasket, dipstick and a pickup tube girdle.
These headers feature 3/8-inch laser cut flanges with the tubes welded inside and out and then machined. They include gaskets, bolts, reducers and O2 sensor bungs. Standard ceramic finish is polished silver; contact the company for bare steel and black ceramic coated pricing.
These radiators feature all-aluminum construction, stamped tanks with strengthening indentations, and a double pass design that put the inlet and outlet on the same side. The all-important steam port bung is welded into the upper part of the tank, which lets your new LS engine vent properly. They also include a sensor port that can be used for a coolant temp fan switch.
MSRP: Starting at $619
BRP HotRods offers stand-alone harnesses as well as harness and re-flashed computer packages.
Available for ’91-’07 Chevy/GMC Silverado/Sierra, Suburban and Tahoe, these true plug-and-play custom built harnesses are designed specifically for your project utilizing a ’94-’97 LT1/4 or ’97-up LSx or Vortec small block.
Current Performance Wiring
Auto Metal Direct offers hoods for ’88-’98 Chevy GMC C/K pickup, ’92-’94 Blazer and Jimmy, ’95-’99 Tahoe and Yukon along with ’92-’99 Suburban. They’re all stamped from heavy gauge steel with factory style underside.
Auto Metal Direct
This six-piece door window channel beltline kit includes the beltline moldings and glass run channels for each front door of the vehicle.
Steele Rubber Products
NPD reproduction tailgates offer a ready-to-paint finish at an affordable price.
National Parts Depot price: $89.95
National Parts Depot
Lose the bumper and gain the sporty look we all love. AVS on the Web offers roll pans for OBS trucks with and without a tag box.
AVS on the Web price: $190
AVS on the Web
You know those trucks that are awesome at first glance, and then just keep getting more awesome once you really start staring for a while? This is one of those trucks. In fact, a lot of Scott Waksmacki’s ’93 Chevy C1500 is downright understated and takes a trained eye to truly appreciate. As a woodworker, Scott is accustomed to having to get things just right.
Wanting, according to Scott, “…a simple truck to drive…” turned into much more when he decided to drop off his Chevy at Jeremy Miranda’s Miranda Built in Delray Beach, Florida, for a little bit of customization. The zero-rust, low-mileage ’93 Chevy C1500 had always been kept in a garage and was the perfect candidate for a clean street cruiser.
Jeremy started off by lowering the truck with a 5/7 drop from Belltech (with upgraded Bilstein shocks) before eventually bolting on the Cerakote-covered 19×8 and 20×10-inch Hot Rods by Boyd Amarillo billet aluminum wheels and Michelin Pilot Super Sport XL tires in 245/40 and 275/35 sizing. But that’s just what you can see from the outside. What you can’t readily see is that Jeremy fully restored the chassis and narrowed the rearend 3 inches per side to fit the low-offset rear wheels.
Then there’s the other subtle stuff like, well… everything. You’d think that with mods like shaved handles, a shaved cargo light and shaved everything else (also done by Miranda Built), that all of these things would stand out, but that’s the beauty of Scott’s truck—they all blend in seamlessly, as they should, underneath the flawless paint, which was applied skillfully by Keenan Hailey.
Using Jade Green Metallic, Champagne Silver Metallic and Samoa Orange striping, the Chevy’s perfect color combination definitely gives us the same kind of goose bumps we got when we first laid our eyes on the Troy Trepanier-built Chicayne back in the day. And, as you’ll notice, the paintwork itself is amazing, wrapping in and out throughout the cab and bed. Scott shared with us that the green is a Lincoln color, the champagne is from a Cadillac, and the orange stripe is out of Audi’s swatchbook.
Before putting the truck back together, Scott collected all new original GM glass, rubber and door seals to ensure that the truck was as good as, if not better than, brand new. It would also help preserve the spotless, original interior. The only change to the inside was to install a simple audio system, which uses Alpine and JL Audio components for a clean sound.
The finishing touch on the truck was the custom flush-mount aluminum tonneau cover built by Jeremy, which closely resembles the highly coveted Checkmate FX tonneau covers of long ago. Certainly one of our favorite, long-gone products for these trucks!
It’s interesting to note that the truck didn’t leave Miranda Built until every last piece had been restored or replaced, making this essentially a new truck except for the original interior. And yes, the Chevy grille was swapped out for an NOS GMC Sierra unit, with a T-Rex billet grille added for more classic style points. Scott told us that there’s not really anything he’d want to change on his truck, but then he paused and added, “Maybe an LS swap?” And so the endless cycle continues!
The classic movie, “A Streetcar Named Desire,” was recently selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry for being “culturally, historically or aesthetically significant.” Lately, it seems that ’88-’98 Chevy trucks are quickly being known to have the same qualities in the truck enthusiast world. GMT400 trucks were on every street corner and car show in the ’90s. With massive production numbers and excellent engineering, these Chevy trucks are still pretty easy to come by and available in many different forms, including shortbed, longbed, quad cab and even two different SUV platforms. Oftentimes, the guy who’s buying and restoring these trucks wanted one in his teen years, and now he’s older, generally successful and more financially stable than when he was 16 years old. These factors also drive custom parts manufacturers to focus on making products for the industry icons and get ahead of the popularity curve.
It’s easy to talk the talk and say you’re a fan of this body style, but it’s far more impactful to walk the walk and own one yourself. So, we took the challenge and jumped into the deep end of desire by picking up a running, driving ’95 Chevy C/K truck from the original owner for a smooth $2,000. Cold A/C and a solid cranking 4.3-liter V-6 gave this truck the appeal, but the full gas tank and a fresh oil change showed us that the previous owner still had love for this 20-plus-year-old family member.
To quickly explain the project’s name: “Stella” is a Latin term meaning “star.” The name popped in our heads after we ordered our 22-inch American Racing Nova wheels. The word “Nova” is a female name of Latin origin that has a definition of both “newness” and “of great energy.” It’s also an astronomical term for a star that suddenly increases in brightness, just like this truck’s future. (Plus, Stella was a pretty stellar character in “A Streetcar Named Desire.”) So, with all that in mind, the name Stella just fits, don’t you think?
Over the next few pages, we’re going to take you through the process of giving this truck new life on the same old roads it’s been cruising down since its inception, first starting with a new suspension, upgraded disc brakes and a new set of wheels and tires. That’s only the beginning, but you have to follow along to see the rest. If this truck doesn’t motivate you to go out and start wrenching on your own OBS project, I’m not sure you picked up the right publication. Now let’s get to the good stuff!
To control our fuel delivery system, we chose to go with Edelbrock’s new Pro-Flo 4 electronic fuel injection. The Pro-Flo 4 is not just a replacement for your carburetor. It’s a complete engineered system that provides the ultimate in performance, drivability and quality. This will result in a smoother idle, faster acceleration, better peak power, improved fuel economy and the ability to control detonation, all in the E-Tuner 4 app.
The key to the improved performance is the fuel injector location, which is at the end of the runner on the intake manifold right before the airflow stream enters the combustion chamber. This location provides a more efficient mixture control that’s unaffected by varying intake manifold runner temperatures and length.
Next to be bolted to the block are our Hedman Hedders designed for the SBC 350ci engine. Hedman Hedders began as a one-man shop in 1954. Bob Hedman, founder of Hedman Hedders, sold his highly sought-after exhaust tubes to fellow racers on the salt flats of the Mojave Desert. But what started out as a way to make a few bucks to pay for Bob’s racing hobby quickly turned into the premier header manufacturer for both the racing and street header marketplaces.
Centerforce is the clutch of choice for our project and recommended by American Powertrain. The Centerforce II Clutch Series utilizes a full facing disc with premium friction materials and a pressure plate with centrifugal weights. It offers superb holding power and maximum clutch life, making this clutch ideal for selected street/strip, off-road and towing applications.
• Patented centrifugal weight design
• Patented ball bearing pressure plate
• High quality friction material
• Light pedal effort
• Increased holding capacity
• Smooth engagement
American Powertrain’s Pro-Fit kits for 88-98 Chevy/GMC C1500 OBS GMT400 trucks come in either 5 or 6-speed. There is no need to cut the floor if your truck is already manual since it fits in the factory location. This kit reuses the original cross-member. It’s actually a very easy install!
30-50% increase in fuel economy
Low RPM cruising for greatly reduced driver fatigue and an improved highway driving experience.
Reduced engine wear leading to longer engine life
Cooler engine operating temperature
The 88-98 Chevy kit includes
AP Revolution Shifter Mechanism locates shifter that will fit bench or bucket seats
Seamless DOM Driveshaft Assembly that has been race balanced
A Driveshaft Slip Yoke made from Cryogenically hardened steel
Polyurethane Transmission Mount
Greased and pre-packed pilot bearing with stainless rollers
Reverse Light Harness
Electronic Speedometer Conversion
Shifter Knob and all the Hardware and instructions you need.
With the engine fully assembled, Trey can slide the engine into the bay and start prepping the cooling system. We used a set of factory V-8 motor mounts to bolt it to the frame and Mishimoto radiators and electric fans. This is a 6.2-liter (383ci) diesel cooling system that Trey recommended for additional cooling. To make it all work correctly, Trey installed a factory OEM diesel coolant reservoir and made a trick aluminum coolant transfer pipe.
Automotive Touchup Paint
AVS on the Web
AZ Pro Performance
Full Pen Fabrication
Hedman Performance Group
Red Line Oil
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.”
OBS refers to Chevy C/K trucks that were manufactured by General Motors between the years 1988 and 1998. Marketed under the Chevrolet and GMC brands, the C/K series included a wide range of vehicles including a truck and two SUV models. While most commonly associated with pickup trucks, the model line also included medium-duty and heavy-duty trucks. The “C” denoted a two-wheel drive; “K” denoted four-wheel drive.
General Motors released eight different versions of the C/K line for 1988: Fleetside Single Cab, Fleetside Extended Cab, Fleetside Crew Cab and Stepside Single Cab models, each in either 2WD or 4WD drivelines. Three trim levels were available for these trucks, including Cheyenne, Scottsdale and Silverado.
GMT400/480 ’88–’00 Chevrolet C/K – GMC Sierra
GMT410 ’92–’99 Chevrolet Suburban
GMT415 ’92–’94 Chevrolet Full-Size Blazer
GMT420 ’95–’00 Chevrolet Tahoe
GMT425 ’92–’99 GMC Suburban
GMT430 ’92–’00 GMC Yukon
In 1989, a Sport Equipment Package was available on either C/K 1500 Fleetside shortbed single cab model. The package featured a black grille with red outlined bow-tie emblem, black moldings outlined in red, body color front and rear bumpers, black mirrors and “SPORT” identification decals on the box and on the tailgate. There were no suspension or engine upgrades provided with any of the sport packages as this was an appearance only option.
Throttle body (TBI) fuel injection was used on ’88-’95 gas engines.
Central point injection (CPI) was used on the ’96-’00 4.3L V-6, 5.0L V-8 and 5.7L V-8.
The Work Truck (W/T) was introduced in 1988, which featured a single cab longbed with Cheyenne trim and a new grille with black bumpers.
In 1990, Chevrolet introduced a high-performance variant of the GMT400 under the Super Sport emblem called the 454 SS. It was available only as a 2WD half-ton regular cab short box in Onyx Black with a garnet red interior. Unique exterior features included a front air dam with fog lights, special rims, decals displaying “454 SS” on the bed sides, red trim emblems, and black painted grille, bumpers and mirrors.
The MSRP of the 1990 model was $18,295. A total of 16,953 units were sold over the four years the 454 SS was in production; 13,748 units were sold in 1990 alone.
The 454 SS was powered by a 454ci (7.4L) V-8 producing 230hp. A Turbo Hydra-Matic 400, 3-speed automatic transmission and 3.73 rear axle ratio added to the truck’s performance. The axle itself is unique, being a 14-bolt semi-floating unit that uses standard Chevrolet 5 on 5-inch wheels—the only factory-produced 14-bolt axle with such a wheel bolt pattern.
In 1991, the 4L80-E automatic transmission was added for three-quarter and one-ton trucks.
In 1991, California introduced a standard called OBD-I in order to curb vehicle emissions. All cars had to be equipped with a system that could detect engine issues and report trouble codes. Unlike the later OBD-II standard, however, OBD-I wasn’t standardized across manufacturers.
This means that an OBD-I scan tool will often work for only one make of car. In addition, the codes themselves aren’t standardized, so a Ford with the same engine issue as a Toyota might give a totally different trouble code.
In 1993 General Motors re-introduced the Sport branded trucks along with the 454 SS. The 454 SS was discontinued after the 1994 model year.
In 1993, the 700-R4/4L60 transmission was revised with electronic controls, becoming the 4L60-E.
The 1994 models received a new front fascia, federally mandated center high-mount stop lamp, many new exterior colors including a new two-tone option on the rocker panels, and new tire and wheel combinations.
All 1995 models received a new interior that included a new steering wheel with the 1500s containing a driver’s-side airbag, a new dashboard containing a more centrally mounted radio, dial-operated HVAC system, and an improved gauge cluster. New front door panels and new seats were also included.
In 1996, OBD-II became a nationwide standard and it has been used ever since. Unlike OBD-I, OBD-II equipped cars all support the same type of scanner. The trouble codes themselves have also been standardized across all manufacturers.
For 1996, a passenger-side-mounted third door became optional on extended cab models.
C/K 1500 models received a passenger-side airbag for 1997 to comply with new federal regulations for light trucks.
1997 was to be the last year the C/K Silverado would display “CHEVROLET” on the tailgate.
In 1999, the Chevrolet Silverado became the divisional replacement for the C/K.
The Chevrolet Tahoe is a full-size SUV from General Motors. Chevrolet and GMC sold two different-sized SUVs under their Blazer/Jimmy model names through the early 1990s. This situation changed when GMC rebadged the full-size Jimmy as the Yukon in 1991. All were two-door models through 1994.
The Chevrolet K5 Blazer name was discontinued after the 1994 model year, and the Chevrolet Tahoe was introduced in 1995 with the addition of an all-new four-door version.
The Tahoe has regularly been the bestselling full-size SUV in the United States, frequently outselling its competition by 2 to 1.
Both two-door and four-door models were produced in rear- and four-wheel drive. The two-door weighs roughly 4,500 pounds while the four-door weighs approximately 5,500 pounds. The two-door has a 6-inch shorter wheelbase than the four-door.
The standard engine was Chevrolet’s 5.7L (350ci) small-block V-8, while a turbocharged 6.5L (395ci) Detroit Diesel V-8 was available beginning in 1994.
The GMT400-based Suburbans were introduced in December 1991 for the 1992 model year even though the similar pickup truck models had switched to the newer platforms in the 1988. Both 2WD and 4WD models, designated “C” and “K”, were offered, as well as half ton and three-quarter ton versions.
The GMT400 series introduced independent front suspension. The 2WD models used coil springs and 4WD models used torsion bars in the front suspension. All models used a live axle and leaf springs in the rear.
For a 1995 Suburban, 0–60 mph times were around 9.3 seconds at best. The top speed of a 1995 Suburban was governed on the engine for economy and a maximum of 98 mph could be obtained with a fuel economy of 13 mpg.