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1971 GMC Stepside Truck - Phat In Matte

Posted in Project Vehicles on May 1, 2009
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Phillip McGilton knows a thing or two about driving. Over the years he has driven a Ford in the ARCA/REMAX Series of stock car racing and a Toyota in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series (now the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series). In 2007 he came to Top Truck Challenge in his massive, fire-breathing '83 Chevy K10 pickup and threw down a great performance that earned him a Fourth Place finish, missing a tie for Third Place by only one point. He has also raced dirt bikes and go-carts, and competed in rodeos. In addition, he owns SIPerformance in Marion, Illinois.

McGilton could probably drive a luxurious Escalade or BMW every day, but he chooses to drive this way-cool spray-can-painted, trail-dented, classic '71 GMC Stepside pickup. He was hunting for a low-buck wheeling machine back in May of 2008 when he found this truck in a farmer's field. McGilton purchased the truck for $1,100 and promptly took it wheeling. It didn't take long before he bonded with the old rig, and this led to a bling-less buildup.

Today the GMC pulls double-duty as a trail machine and daily driver. McGilton says it does everything from the daily commute to his shop to hauling his kids to school. This is one phat matte rig that can do it all.

The outside of the rig sports a Harwood fiberglass hood. McGilton says the metal work on the GMC is courtesy of "mother nature." The no-nonsense matte finish paint is courtesy of a few cans of Wal-Mart spray paint. This approach to paint has benefits, like the ability to easily touch up scrapes and dents after a day of wheeling, which McGilton has obviously done. The custom front bumper is made from 6x2 square tubing. This bumper has a pair of shackle mounts and a winch mount that holds a Warn 9.5 winch. Out back there's a custom rear bumper made from 5x2 square tubing and it has a pair of shackle mounts and a 2-inch receiver. On each side of the rig is a custom rock slider made from 1.75-inch 0.120-wall tubing. The rig rolls on 39.5x15.0-17 Super Swamper TSL tires mounted on 9-inch-wide Mickey Thompson Classic Lock wheels.

A Custom Differentials-built Dana 60 resides in the front of the truck. It's been upgraded with Moser chromoly inner axleshafts; Moser chromoly 35-spline outers; a Detroit Locker; MileMarker hubs; a Dynatrac diff cover; and 5.13:1 gears. The steering system is a high-steer unit fabbed by the guys at SIPerformance using Blue Torch FabWorks high-steer arms, a custom tie rod and drag link with QA1 spherical rod ends, and an AGR Rock Ram kit. The front suspension features Superlift 6-inch-lift leaf springs and Bilstein 5150 Series piggyback-reservoir shocks.

Under the hood is a potent GM ZZ383 crate engine. It makes 425 hp at a low 5,400 rpm and 460 lb-ft of torque at 4,500 rpm. It has 1.5:1 roller rockers; hydraulic roller lifters; Fast Burn aluminum heads; lightweight stainless steel valves and retainers; a 4340, nitrided, induction-hardened, forged crankshaft; heavy-duty forged powdered metal piston rods; an Edelbrock Performer RPM intake; a Holley Truck Avenger 770-cfm carburetor; Hooker ceramic-coated 1.75-inch-diameter headers; Flowmaster mufflers; a GM distributor; an MSD 6AL ignition; a Powermaster 140-amp alternator; a March Performance Pulleys serpentine pulley system; a K&N air filter; and an Optima YellowTop battery. The engine is cooled via a GM four-core radiator with a pair of 12-inch electric fans. Bolted to the engine is a TCI-built TH350 transmission, and it has a B&M shifter and cooler with fan.

PhotosView Slideshow
Power is routed to the axles via an Atlas two-speed 3.8:1 transfer case with 1410 yokes and a pair of beefy Drive Shaft Unlimited 'shafts.

Owner/Hometown: Phillip McGilton/Marion, Illinois
Vehicle/Model: 1971 GMC Stepside
Estimated value: N/A

Type: ZZ383 V-8 GM crate engine
Aspiration: Edelbrock Performer RPM intake, Holley Truck Avenger 770-cfm carburetor, Hooker ceramic-coated headers, Flowmaster mufflers
Output, hp/torque @ rpm (estimated): 425 @ 5,400/460 lb-ft @ 4,500

Transmission: TCI-built TH350, B&M cooler with fan, B&M shifter
Transfer Case: Atlas two-speed 3.8:1

Front: Superlift 6-inch-lift leaves, Bilstein 5150 Series piggyback shocks
Rear: Superlift 6-inch-lift leaves, Bilstein 5150 Series piggyback shocks, custom traction bars

Front: Dana 60, custom crossover steering, Blue Torch FabWorks high-steer arms, AGR Rock Ram/Detroit Locker
Rear: GM 14-bolt, Custom Differentials disc brakes/spool
Ring-and-pinion: 5.13:1

Wheels: 17x9 Mickey Thompson Classic Lock
Tires: 39.5x15.0-17 Super Swamper TSL

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