A '92 GMC Z71 Built To Take The Heat
Time, effort, and dedication are what it takes to put a 4x4 of quality and functionality together. Matt Brown had taken very seriously the thought of his perfect 4x4 and visionary vehicle. He wanted all aspects of his 4x4 to be functional as well as dependable. To initiate the buildup, Matt chose the ideal vehicle: a '92 GMC Z71 Stepside pickup. The GMC base truck was a great starting point for his master plan, like a blank canvas. After three years, countless hours, an additional $30,000, and a complete dedication to his plan, this white-hot truck is the end result of Matt's creative endeavors.
Beginning with the front suspension, Matt wanted nothing short of bulletproof and major clearance, so he chose to convert the existing IFS frontend to a straight-axle setup. Matt decided a Ford 1-ton Dana 60 front axle would do the job. This straight-axle conversion is complete with 4:11:1 gearing. This changeover definitely did the trick in beefing up the truck as well as giving greater ground clearance and the ability to run huge tires. To ensure the vehicle's structural strength, the frame was also boxed. Six-inch Skyjacker leaf springs were installed with custom shackle mounting. The spring pads (front and rear) were cut and re-welded with some angle for accurate drivetrain alignment. Custom shock hoops and shock mounts were fabricated onto the truck, then dual Rancho RS 5000 shocks and dual Rancho steering stabilizers were installed to keep the rough terrain in check. This complete straight-axle conversion was completed by Thunder 4-Wheel Drive in Mt. Holly, New Jersey. The rear axle is a tough GM Corporate 14-bolt axle with 4:11 gearing and a Detroit Locker. A set of Skyjacker 8-inch lift leaf springs was then added and fitted with dual Rancho RS 5000 shocks. Both front and rear axles were fitted with chromed differential covers and strengthened with an axle truss and protected by skidplates. The driveshafts were custom-fabricated and -lengthened to accommodate the change in vehicle height. This lift setup gave perfect clearance to neatly tuck in the 39.5x18x16.5 TSL Super Swamper Boggers, which Matt had mounted on 16.5x12-inch Weld Super Single II rims.
The GM 5.7L engine remained intact, with the exception of a K&N air filter and a 3-inch Flowmaster exhaust system to get things breathing properly. The GM five-speed manual transmission and transfer case remain in OE trim. In regard to the engine, Matt had the why fix it if it already works great attitude. Who knows what will happen in the long run? Matt thinks he may see some engine upgrades in the very near future.
The exterior was completely overhauled with a custom paintjob from the staff at Ultimate Collision in Wrightston, New Jersey. Matt wanted a real looker that would turn heads around town or when cruising through the river or the woods. He chose to go with extreme bright white for a shocking white-hot look. With the addition of a cowl-induction hood, a Lund racer-back cab fairing, billet steps, bedrail bars, a shaved tailgate handle, Sir Michaels smoothie bumpers, and nerf bars, this vehicle looks awesome.
The interior was accented and tricked out with a billet interior kit and gauge covers. An Auto Meter tachometer was installed to keep the powerplant in check. Bucket seats were added for ride comfort. To keep the hearing sensory receptacles satisfied, Matt installed an awesome Orion stereo system and amp kicking out 1,200 watts to the competition subwoofer and MB Quart speakers.
The vision and dedication Matt has put forth to build this truck has definitely paid off. He has masterminded a great, hot-looking ride that's also a functional rig that can be used like a 4x4. So if you don't find Matt contemplating another addition to his truck, you can locate him on the trails, rivers, and beachheads around his hometown actually using his truck for the reasons he built it.
|Owner/hometown||Matt Brown/Jobstown, New Jersey|
|Make/model||'92 GMC Z71 pickup|
|Transmission||GM five-speed manual transmission|
|Axles||: 1-ton Ford straight axle, 4:11 gears (front), 4:11 gears, locker (rear)|
|Suspension||Skyjacker 6-inch Super springs; custom shock hoops and shock mounts; dual Rancho shocks (front); 8-inch Super Lift springs (rear)|
|Wheels/tires||16.5x12-inch Weld Super Single II/39.5x18x16.5 Super Swamper Boggers TSLs|
|Additional features||Custom paint; Orion stereo system; customer mirror tint; axle truss and traction bars|