Square-bodied Chevy trucks are currently enjoying a resurgence in popularity, but there was a time not too long ago when you could pick them up dirt cheap. These were the last of the solid-axle Chevys, and they have a nostalgia of a simpler time before adaptive cruise control and lane departure warnings. The next generation of trucks (1988-1998) have plenty of advantages over the square bodies, though, one of which is that they are still dirt cheap.
In the end, what motivated Jake Hallenbeck of Marked Motorsports to build this truck is the same as what draws so many to the square body: nostalgia. “This is the truck I was driving when my wife, Angela, 20 years ago,” Jake explains. Although he’s had plenty of Jeeps and rockcrawling buggies, the GMC still held a special place in his heart as the vehicle that sparked his interest in 4x4s.
Jake’s hometown of Reno, Nevada, is called the Biggest Little City for a reason. With some sleuthing he was able to track down the truck and update it with is current skillset, which has grown significantly since his high school days.
Jake applied some of the same tricks he used on past vehicles, including LS power and Super Duty axles. “I put Super Duty axles and leaf springs under my TJ and then later under my JK with 40-inch tires. People think I’m nuts, but the combination works really well on the trail and is stable and predictable on the road. For the price you can’t beat it.”
Unlike the Jeeps, the nostalgia-motivated Jake added chrome diff covers and dual chrome shocks at each corner of the truck as a tribute to its oh-so-1990s heritage. The result looks like a show truck at first glance but has enough horsepower and axle for legit wheeling.
Jake Hallenbeck had the entire truck repainted in the original gold hue. The bed was actually removed to paint the back of the cab and the front of the bed for a factory-fresh appearance.
Power comes from a 6.0L Gen III engine that looks in the engine bay like it came from the factory. The engine has been upgraded with a Comp Cams cam and lifters, beehive valve springs, and a 92mm throttle body with a tune via an HP Tuner to make it all work. Ceramic-coated Pacesetter headers route exhaust gases to a custom 3-inch exhaust fitted with Dynomax and Flowmaster components.
The truck only has 116,000 original miles on it, and the interior is in incredibly good shape. Jake went through the extra effort to ensure that all the factory gauges and cruise control would function with the LS engine.
It wouldn’t be a 1990s truck without a billet aluminum grille! Some eBay-sourced headlights replaced the faded factory plastic lenses, and a new chrome bumper was added with integrated foglights to make the front end pop like new.
This might be the first time you’ve seen chrome shocks in PETERSEN’S 4-WHEEL & OFF-ROAD since David Freiburger took over as editor in 1994, but we think enough time has passed to point out the study in contrasts on this GMC. The Offroad Design solid-axle swap kit and a 1-ton front axle suggest it could do some legit wheeling. At the same time, the dual chrome shocks and chrome diff cover scream “show truck!”
The front axle is a Dana 60 straight out of a Ford Super Duty. Jake added a Reid Racing knuckle to the passenger side to accept a XXX Traction steering arm on top of the knuckle to reduce bumpsteer. The factory Saginaw steering box was retained, but it uses a pitman arm from Offroad Design. Inside, 4.88 gears were added to compensate for the 37-inch-tall tires.
The Sterling 10 1/2-inch axle came with disc brakes and a limited-slip differential, so all Jake added was a set of 4.88 gears. The factory driveshaft was shortened 1 1/4 inches in the rear and fitted with a flange to mate up to the Ford axle. In the front, a new driveshaft was built with a 1310 double cardan joint at the transfer case end and a 1350 U-joint at the axle end. Also visible are the two mufflers that were added to the 3-inch exhaust to retain sleeper status.
Out back there is more post-disco bling in the form of dual chrome shocks and a chrome diff cover. A shackle flip provides room for the 37s and Firestone airbags keep the truck level, even when towing heavy loads.
When people ask why he built a 1993 GMC, Jake just points at his license plate.
The hot 6.0L engine under the hood is hooked to a 4L60E transmission that has been upgraded with a shift kit to hold the power. The combination can light up the tires at will, whether in the dirt or on the pavement.
1993 GMC K1500
Engine: 6.0L Gen III V-8
Transmission: 4L60E 4-speed automatic
Transfer Case: NP241
Front Axle: Dana 60 with 4.88 gears
Rear Axle: Sterling 10 1/2-inch with 4.88 gears and factory limited slip
Springs & Such: Pro Comp springs, Offroad Design hangers, dual Doetsch Tech shocks (front); custom shackle flip, Firestone airbags, dual Doestch Tech shocks (rear)
Tires & Wheels: 37x12.5R16.5 Goodyear MT tires on 16.5x10 Weld Racing wheels
Steering: Grant steering wheel, Reid Racing passenger knuckle, XXX Traction steering arm, custom draglink and tie rod with 1-ton ends
Other Stuff: Billet grille, Lincoln MkV electric fan, Comp Cams cam and lifters, HP Tuner, Pacesetter header, Dynomax muffler, Pioneer stereo