A steady helping of anything tends to get pretty darn boring after a while. Who wants to eat the same thing for dinner every night? Even if it is a juicy steak, a guy’s got to mix it up with a burger or a fat chop every now and then. Even that super catchy song on the radio starts to sound real dull after hearing it 60 times a day. Repetition, no matter how comforting it is, is a great way to suck the magic out of something good. I’m sure there are exceptions to the rule, but I’m having trouble pinning one down at the moment.
This sentiment extends to trucks, too. There comes a time when driving around in the same old truck with the same tired look is enough to demand change. When the waters get stagnant, some might switch up the wheels, maybe tint the windows, or when times get desperate, a fresh paint treatment might be the only solution. Rarely (very rarely) does a guy ship his truck off across six-plus states to make something interesting happen. This might seem like a drastic solution, but when the time came to load up his Sierra for a cross-country journey, Joe Mensack didn’t hesitate.
Joe is a fan of lowered cars and trucks. Every single one he has owned throughout the years has been dropped, but no matter how much lower than stock they sat, they all eventually stopped being low enough. Joe was finally in the right position and mindset to set his sights on a full air ride suspension for his GMC full-size. “Two weeks after I bought the truck, I installed a lowering kit on it,” he says. “I’ve been a workaholic since age 14, and I was in a place where I was able to afford the best air components and talent necessary to make it all happen.” Joe gave his truck an honest try with the static drop, but it didn’t stand a chance in that condition. Things were about to change.
Not being too familiar with the installation of a full ’bag setup, Joe felt it best to seek out an experienced set of hands to join the project to ensure a positive outcome. There were many individuals capable of handling the job, but Joe did some deep digging and found a guy whose work he had come to admire. The only setback is that te gentleman in question just happened to be based well outside of Joe’s Ormond Beach, Florida, zip code. “I jumped on Instagram and started following a bunch of truck guys, shops and builders to start putting an idea together of how I would want the suspension system for the Sierra to be designed. It was during this part of the research phase where I ran across the builder’s account.”
Joe contacted Jeremy Rice and told him his story and plan for his GMC. The whole distance thing was an issue at first, but as the two started diving deeper into possible suspension designs, the miles between their doorsteps started to feel like less of a hurdle. “I saw quality in every build that I looked at, and after reaching out and going back and forth with Jeremy, I knew that his shop was going to be a perfect fit for me. I’d say that I was sold on the idea of shipping the truck to Jeremy after a only a few email conversations.” The decision to send a vehicle that far away is tough for a few reasons. Not being able to stop by the shop every now and then for progress updates could raise suspense to an almost unbearable level, or it could make the whole ordeal easier knowing the truck was in the care of trained professionals. Whichever Joe was feeling most, he kept his composure and put his trust in Jeremy, knowing that he too wanted to see the Sierra looking and performing its best.
Once the truck arrived, Jeremy was able to analyze the situation with much better insight. He felt that modifying the stock spindles and installing a Michigan Metal Works control arm kit would allow the front to lay, while a forward-facing 3-link would work best for the rear. Although Joe was initially interested in sitting in a ’bagged truck that would simply rest on the pavement, he realized that for his Sierra to be a complete, well-rounded package, things like upgraded brakes would play a huge role in the truck’s actual drivability, especially with the new set of wheels the guys had in mind. Jeremy addressed the truck’s need for real stopping power and brought in 16-inch Wilwood rotors and six-piston calipers that not only look great peeking out behind the 26-inch Intro Valley wheels, but assist in bringing the truck to a prompt halt.
Joe soon found himself in the position of being the happy owner of a ’bagged truck. It was a move that combined many years and vehicles. With the whole air suspension system dialed in, there was still a lot to be done, though. The following phases were focused on adding some choice, yet subtle tweaks to improve the Sierra’s already sleek new appearance. The exterior didn’t see a whole lot of changes, however. Aside from the custom raised bed floor that Jeremy cooked up from scratch, one of the main attractions is the custom paint job. Although the color may appear basic black from afar, those with a sharp eye will notice an underlying hint of red pearl.
Another addition is one that some might not even have the opportunity to admire. Those who catch Joe on the road with his truck will realize the modification right away, as will show-goers who stumble on the truck when its hood is popped open. Attached to the factory 5.3L engine is one of the truck’s most exciting features, a Whipple 2300 supercharger. The extra bump in power plays its part in turning the truck into a sleeping giant.
With a proper stance, healthy brake upgrades, and a shot of pure performance, Joe’s Sierra ended up in a class far beyond that of what he could’ve expected before he shipped it out to Arizona. “It was hard to back down from the opportunity to take the truck even further while it was out there,” Joe adds. “Having IKandy Paintworks hop on board with the build was great, and the opportunity to have Elevated Design do their thing with the interior and sound was a huge bonus.” Thanks to Joe’s impeccable research skills and taste in custom vehicles, he didn’t end up with the short-end of stick by sending his truck so far from home. The move was a bold one, but Joe trusted his instincts and Jeremy Rice’s skillset. With the GMC back at home, Joe has been enjoying time spent with the custom vehicle he’s been working most of his adult life to own; even though there really isn’t any more “low” to gain with this truck.
Ormond Beach, FL
Shop: Assembled by Jason Bowman and Jeremy Rice
2013 5.3L V-8
500 lbs-ft torque
Upgraded factory transmission by A&S Transmission
Custom two-piece steel driveshaft
COMP Cams camshaft, lifters, pushrods and springs
Whipple 2300 supercharger with 12-psi boost
3 ¼-inch supercharger pulley system
Pace Setter headers
Dual 3-inch mandrel-bent and TIG-welded exhaust system
Black Widow mufflers
K&N air cleaner
Chassis & Suspension
Shop: Jeremy Rice
Michigan Metal Works control arm kit
Slam Specialties SS-7 ’bags
RideTech shocks all around
Modified stock spindles
Rear forward-facing 3-link with rear leverage bars
Notched rear portion of frame
Narrowed 12-bolt axle
Wilwood 16-inch rotors and six-piston calipers from Little Shop MFG
Wheels & Tires
26×9 and 26×12 Intro Valley wheels with polished lip and brushed face
295/30R26 and 305/30R26 tires
Body & Paint
Shop: IKandy Paintworks, Inc.
PPG factory GM Black mixed with Red pearl
Custom billet grille
Raised bed floor and smoothed bed with bead-rolled panels and custom bed strips
Custom-modified headlights with projectors
Interior & Stereo
Shop: Elevated Design
Factory front buckets and rear seating rewrapped with a leather and vinyl material combo
Custom dashboard gauge insert
Custom center console that flows from the dash to back wall
Kenwood head unit
JL Audio speakers and amplifiers
Two subwoofers in center console
Special Thanks From the Owner: “Thanks to my friends and family for always supporting me and my passion. Thank you to my late father who made me fall in love with anything with a motor and wheels.”
Some may be deceived by a quick look under the hood. Everything appears clean and ordinary at first glance.
A closer inspection will lead wandering eyes to the Whipple supercharger lurking beneath surface.
Elevated Design took the factory seats and treated them to a leather-and-vinyl wrap job. The custom center console stretches from under the dash all the way to the rear cab wall.
Custom interior illumination is always a nice touch, especially during nighttime cruises.
The oversized Wilwood rotors are dwarfed by the massive 26-inch Intro Valley wheels.
Jeremy Rice raised the bed floor and created one-off bead-rolled wall details and custom painted strips for the bed floor.