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2002 GMC Sierra 2500HD Crew Cab - Fullsize Fun

More Than Just Towing

Harry WagnerPhotographer, Writer

Fullsize trucks can often be found romping across the desert, blasting through mud bogs, or towing heavy loads. But rockcrawling though boulder-strewn canyons? That is a task typically left to the Jeeps and tube buggies. Dan Peoples didn't want a Jeep though. He wanted a vehicle that could comfortably carry his whole family and tow his quads, yet still explore the canyons found around his home of Reno, Nevada. To accomplish this goal, Peoples turned to a man who is all too familiar with rockcrawling: 2002 ARCA champion Mike Shaffer. When he is not competing on the rockcrawling circuit, Shaffer runs his own fabrication shop in Carson City.

Peoples' '02 GMC 2500HD Crew Cab shortbed pickup came from the factory with a stout drivetrain. The stock truck boasts a 300hp 6.0L engine, a burly 4L80E overdrive transmission, and an NP241 transfer case. While the running gear is tough, the ground clearance and wheel travel left something to be desired, and that is where Shaffer took over. A ball-joint high-pinion Dana 60 from a Ford Super Duty was grafted onto the front end with 14-inch-travel, 2.5-inch-body Bilstein 9100 coilovers wrapped in dual Eibach 375-pound-over-500-pound coils. The coilovers are located by a three-link and Panhard bar constructed with 2.5-inch Rubicon Express Super-Flex joints and 1.75-inch by 0.250-wall DOM tubing. In the rear, the stock leaf springs were inboarded under the frame and used in conjunction with 2-inch lift blocks, compression shackles, and 12-inch-travel Bilstein 7100 shocks.

The eight-lug Dana 60 matches the lug pattern and width of the Corporate 14-bolt rear perfectly. Both axles are stuffed with 5.13 gears and ARB Air Lockers for trouble-free driving on the street and full traction on the trail. That traction comes via 39-inch Super Swamper Irok radials wrapped around 16x10 Mickey Thompson Classic II wheels. PSC hydraulic-assist steering helps turn the big tires when they get bound up in the rocks.

A Crew Cab has a lot of sheetmetal, and after making such an investment Peoples wasn't interested in destroying his late-model truck. A TrailReady winch bumper protects the front end and provides a home for the Warn M15000 winch. With no off-the-shelf options, the sides and rear of the truck are protected by custom armor constructed by Shaffer's Offroad. The rear bumper has extraction points and a receiver hitch to ensure that the truck remains fully functional for a variety of tasks, and it wraps around to protect the sides of the bed as well.

With the build complete (and his bank account still recovering), you may expect to find this truck at the mall or on the highway towing a toy hauler. Although Peoples' daily driver can sometimes be seen in these places, it can also be found on some of the hardest rockcrawling trails in northern Nevada. Even though the rock sliders and rear driveshaft take a beating, Peoples pilots his truck through rocky canyons that we had only seen traversed by much smaller vehicles. His dream of creating a truck that can do it all has been fulfilled. If you don't believe us, just take a look at the photographs!