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Balancing Act - 2001 GMC 2500 HD Crew Cab

Posted in Project Vehicles on October 1, 2006 Comment (0)
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Photographers: Sean P. Holman

Somewhere between overly blinged and horribly bashed lies the perfectly balanced multitasking pickup truck. An illustration of this is Joel Felzien's '01 GMC 2500 HD Crew Cab. Felzien, who hails from Fort Collins, Colorado, has built a rig that can work like a dog, 'wheel like a crazy thing, and look pretty darn good doing it. "This truck is a dream to drive," Felzien says. "It's been from Colorado to California to Tennessee and back at sustained highway speeds of over 75 mph while pulling a trailer." We say that's not bad for a rig rolling on 40-inch rubber. Clearly, Felzien has successfully executed a tricky balancing act.

Carrying a large spare tire can be a problem. Loose in the bed is unacceptable, and besides, it gets in the way when you want to haul cargo. Felzien solved these issues by mounting his spare 40-inch Mickey Thompson Baja Claw and 20x10 Mickey Thompson Classic Lock wheel on a bolt-in Wilco Products Prerunner Tire Gate. In this photo, the Gate is mounted outward for maximum cargo bed utility, but the Tire Gate can also be mounted inward.

The upper A-arms are made from 8081 T-6 billet aluminum that features a titanium component. The A-arms encapsulate the upper ball joints and feature snap rings to ensure durability. Two Fox Shox remote-reservoir shocks and one Fox Shox air shock provide sufficient damping for even big-air flights. All shocks were fitted with polyurethane bushings to help create a smooth ride.

A clean and uncluttered exterior appearance was created in part by a two-tone paint scheme. The top of the vehicle is the factory red paint, while Paint by Krusty in Greeley, Colorado, painted the sides of the GMC bright red using Martin Seymour paint. Other exterior mods include a Goodmark steel cowl hood, Bushwacker fender flares, and a custom Extreme Engineering prerunner bar. The prerunner bar holds a pair of Hella FF1000 halogen off-highway lights, while a pair of PIAA lights reside in the front bumper. Felzien tucked the rear bumper closer to the body by relocating the mounting brackets. He also relocated the trailer hitch in the same fashion. Even with 8 inches of suspension lift, significant modifications had to be applied to the front fender area to fit the 40-inch tires. Felzien cut 4 inches off the rocker panels and capped the ends; he trimmed the front body mounts; and he removed fender material.

The 8-inch suspension lift is a one-off design with a lot of cool tech. It was designed by Mark Turner, and features a number of neat ideas like the non-torsion-bar-drop technology. The secret to this is that the custom front torsion-bar bracketry keeps the torsion bar in the factory position. You'll also notice the lack of support bars protruding from the front suspension. This is possible because the front skidplate acts as a structural support for the taller suspension. Ultimately, eliminating the support bars and keeping the torsion bars mounted high means the GMC has excellent rampover/ground clearance characteristics.

Red and grey leather Katzkins seat covers, custom door panels, and a 1/8-inch Fat Wrap red and grey leather steering-wheel wrap help to accentuate the GMC's interior look. Other interior mods include controls for the rear Firestone airbag system, a trailer brake controller, and a Premier/Phoenix Gold/Infinity/Rockford Fosgate audio system with Pioneer steering-wheel controls.

The rear AAM axle sports the factory limited-slip differential, but it has been regeared with 5.13:1 Precision Gears. These lower gears help offset the big 40-inch-diameter Mickey Thompson Baja Claw radial tires. The axle is bolted to the stock leaf springs, which have been modified with a pair of 1.5-inch-lift add-a-leaf kits and 5-inch lift blocks. Since the truck is routinely used to pull trailers, Felzien added a pair of Firestone airbags that can be inflated to level the truck when towing. Finally, damping duties are provided via a pair of Fox Shox remote-reservoir shocks, and they're bolted in the stock mounting locations.


Owner: Joel Felzien, Fort Collins, Colorado
Vehicle/Model: '01 GMC 2500 HD Crew Cab
Estimated Value: $50,000

Type: 8.1L V-8
Aspiration: Fuel injection, K&N air filter, 3-inch-diameter Banks stainless steel exhaust
Output, hp/torque (estimated): 340/520 lb-ft

Transmission: Allison 1000
Transfer case: Stock

Front: Independent, custom 8-inch-lift, dual Fox Shox remote-reservoir shocks, and single Fox Shox air shock
Rear: Stock leaf springs, 1.5-inch add-a-leaf, 5-inch lift-block, Firestone airbags,Fox Shox remote-reservoir shocks

Front: Stock/open
Rear: AAM/stock limited-slip
Ring-and-pinion: 5.13:1

Wheels: 20x10 Mickey Thompson Classic Lock
Tires: 40x13.50/20 Mickey Thompson Baja Claw radials


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