PART 11: DRESS IT UP
Almost a full year of ownership of this higher mileage 2012 Silverado 2500HD and we’ve put it through quite the transformation. The whole idea behind this project was to show what kind of issues to prepare for, how to improve the truck’s utility according to your needs, and what kind of aftermarket support is available for 2011-2014 LML Duramax trucks. In recent months we bolted on some major horsepower upgrades with the addition of Profab Performance exhaust manifolds and up-pipes, a 10mm stroker CP4 from Exergy Performance, and a ProMax 64 turbo upgrade from High Tech Turbo. With some custom programming from GDP Tuning, this truck laid down almost 600 hp at the tires and still tows our 29-foot fifth-wheel trailer incredibly well. Early this PART 11: DRESS IT UP TECH | DIESEL WORLD MAGAZINE BY JACOB WHITE spring we replaced the running gear with some more aggressive Mickey Thompson ATZ tires and matte-black 20×9 SD-5 wheels, and we were again impressed by how far the right wheel and tire combination can go toward improving a truck’s looks.
Since the new tires had a much more aggressive tread and were now sticking out slightly past the factory fenders, some Rugged Flares from EGR USA seemed like an easy improvement. The wider fl are is an easy clip-on install and will help keep mud and debris off the sides of the truck. While the fl ares can be run in the bare matte black, we opted to paint-match ours using a complete spray can kit from Automotive Touchup. We informed them of our exterior paint code and the items we planned on painting, and they put together everything we needed to complete the job at home— from various sandpaper grits to prepare the surface and wet-sand between coats, to adhesion promoter, primer, the base coat, and even the clear coat. Their website offered a couple quick how-to videos that helped us with the DIY project, and the final product came out great.
To dress up the front end of the truck, we reached out to Rough Country, best known for suspension lifts but more recently also offering bumpers, lighting, and tonneau covers. Their LED Bull Bar was an easy bolt-on piece that replaced our factory tow hooks and required no drilling to install. This black powdercoated bar should be very durable, and it adds a sleek, 20-inch light bar for improved night vision on country back roads. On the subject of lighting, we also replaced the hazed-over factory fog lights with a simple bolton, dual 2-inch LED cube lighting system also from Rough Country. These lights use laser-cut brackets to replace the factory lights in the front bumper and will match the black 20-inch light in the Bull Bar. The system is wired to plug directly into the factory harness, so there’s no wiring required and they’ll function off the factory dash switch just like the stock lights did.
We also wanted to upgrade the grille with Rough Country’s powdercoated mesh insert. The two-piece grille insert was a little more labor-intensive than our other upgrades, since the stock grille shell had to be cut and modified to allow the new insert to fit. Luckily, illustrated installation instructions were included and we were able to tackle this job in about two hours’ time. The end result was well worth the time invested, as that textured stealth black grille ties in nicely with the Bull Bar and the matte-black wheels on the truck.
The final piece to the puzzle was a set of painted Bowtie badges we sourced from Get Lit Customz. In a world full of vinyl decals and vehicle wraps, it’s nice to find someone still investing the time and effort to do custom paintwork for their customers. We used two brand-new factory badges we sourced from the Chevy dealer, disassembled and prepped for paint. Using the truck’s paint code once again and some custom masking techniques, Get Lit Customz was able to spray a super-cool American flag inspired design on each Bowtie that looks really clean on the truck once the badges are installed. The badges are also clear-coated, so they’ll stand up to the elements over time and we won’t have to worry about anything like a vinyl decal fading, deteriorating, or peeling off at the carwash.
Next month will mark one full year of working on Project Looks. Muscle. Longevity, and we hope you’ve enjoyed following along on the journey. In upcoming installments we’ll be going back to addressing the truck’s performance. While we’re happy with how the truck drives with 600 hp and 1,200 lb-ft of torque, we aren’t naive to the fact that a stock Allison transmission won’t survive long at those levels. We’ll be upgrading to a fully built unit from Merchant Automotive, to be followed with some better transmission cooler lines and a bigger fluid cooler. While looking into the cooling side of things, we’re also planning to upgrade the radiator and intercooler, as well as add some braking upgrades to improve our stopping power while towing heavy through the mountains of Utah and Southeast Idaho.