Lakeland’s Local Show Truck Heroes
Before Joseph Carpentier even began tearing into his 2011 GMC Sierra, he already knew what he wanted to see from it.
“I had the paint style decided on and was already set on who would do the work,” he says. “Same goes for the suspension system. I wanted my truck to sit low and be visually loud, and I knew how to make that happen.”
Joseph’s hometown of Lakeland, Florida, is just east of Tampa and has a solid number of talented auto craftsmen. In fact, the Sierra didn’t even have to leave city limits from start to finish, which is kind of an unusual tidbit about this project. Local hands were utilized in turning Joseph’s ordinary factory-condition GMC into something special in just under a two-year period the whole way through.
Set to Sit Low
To kick things off, Joseph dropped his Sierra off at Detroit Muscle Speed Shop to alter the truck’s ride height. Since “low” was the direction the truck was set to go, upper and lower control arms from Eksensive Metal Works were ordered as was a 3-link rear setup from Nfamus Metal.
Iinter Fab provided the mounts for the Slam Specialties ‘bags, and a combination of Accuair management components and Viair compressors handle the system’s on-demand air supply. Front Monroe OESpectrum and AC Delco rear shocks help dampen the suspension travel for the smoothest ride quality possible.
To complete the Sierra’s chassis overhaul, front and rear 5-on-5 brake conversion kits were utilized, and a new set of wheels and tires were selected to finish it all off. Not just any wheels would do for Joseph’s truck because the look he was after had to be something truly unique. To fit that very specific bill, MTW Blade billet wheels in sizes 26×9 for the front and a staggering 26×12 rear set would definitely command the level of attention he was after. These wheels look sharp in all descriptive senses—they have a dangerous appearance with razor-like edges that look like they could cut and sever with ease.
‘Visually Loud’ Exterior
With the air suspension well taken care of, Joseph was ready to move onto the next important phase of the build: the exterior. To assist in the body and paint process, Daniel Smith of Smithworkx began to size up what needed attention on the exterior so he could progress to mocking up something exciting to seal the deal.
These wheels look sharp in all descriptive senses—they have a dangerous appearance with razor-like edges that look like they could cut and sever with ease.
To give the Sierra a slightly different and quick appearance tweak, the front end was given a full Denali swap complete with a few custom touches in the way of a shaved tailgate handle and bed caps.
What Daniel had in mind next for the Sierra’s exterior would truly give the truck the demeanor Joseph had in mind from the very start. Old-school mini-truck inspired paint was something he was very interested in incorporating into the project, and he selected a painter from his shop who is very well versed in what goes into successfully pulling it off.
The wide range of color used in the design is only part of the entire scope of the wild graphics. Each hue has a different texture that adds an intriguing depth that lures in focus at every angle. On top of the black canvas, the wraparound artwork looks almost electric as the vibrant colors seem to glow right there on the surface. A lot of labor goes into creating these intricate displays of expression through paint but the hours of masking and prep and waiting for layers to dry is all worth the effort in achieving these throwback designs.
Moving into the cab, Joseph turned to Pegg’s Auto Upholstery to transform the Sierra’s factory seating arrangement. The crew ripped off the old fabric and replaced it with supple black leather hides with diamond pattern accents, which totally changes the confines of the interior for the better. A custom headliner gives the entire space that one-off touch.
Because Joseph plans to drive his truck as much as possible, a Kenwood double-din receiver was sunk into the dash to bump up the audio signal while adding wireless utility inside the cab.
In just about 1½ years, Joseph had the truck he was after. While he did keep track of the number of months that passed before he could consider the build complete, he admits that he did lose count of the grand total of all parts and labor combined to get his Sierra to this point—it happens.
One thing Joseph didn’t forget, however, was the upcoming show schedule, as he has toured his new ride to as many local and not-so-local events as possible once the clearcoat dried.
These types of builds are never done because there is always something to change up or improve upon. This project is no exception as Joseph is already thinking about a couple things he wished he went for the first time around but might consider doing in the future.
“I’d like to see the GMC with a bodydrop and a sliding rag top too, but we’ll see what happens,” he says.
Either way, this Sierra will be drawing a crowd for some time to come, anything other modification made to it from here on out would only be a bonus.
- 2011 GMC Sierra
- Lakeland, FL
- 2011 GMC 5.3L V-8
- K&N cold air intake
- Texas Speed 1 7/8 stainless long tube headers
- Magnaflow muffler
- Performance Driveline two-piece conversion drive shaft
- Shop: Detroit Muscle Speed Shop, Lakeland, FL
- Factory frame, rear C-Notch
- Ekstensive Metal Works upper and lower control arms
- Nfamus Metal rear 3-link kit
- Winter Fab ‘bag mounts
- Accuair air management
- Viair air compressors
- Slam Specialties 2700/2800 ‘bags
- Monroe OESpectrum and AC Delco shocks
Wheels, Tires & Brakes
- 26×9 and 26×12 MTW 805 wheels
- 255/30R26 and 305/30R26 Lexani all season radial tires
- 5-on-5 brake conversion kits front and rear
- Front cross-drilled rotors
Body & Paint
- Shop: Daniel Smith @Smithworkx, Lakeland, FL
- Jet black paint base, multi-color mini-truck style graphics
- GMC Denali grille conversion
- Denali front and 2015 GMC Sierra rear bumper conversions
- Multi-Color LEDs in wheel wells
- Shaved tailgate handle and bedcaps
- Rhino liner in bed
- Shop: Pegg’s Auto Upholstery, Lakeland, FL
- Factory seats covered in black leather w/ red diamond pattern stitching
- Custom headliner
- Kenwood double-DIN head unit