Built With Just A Slight, Mid-Course Correction!
Adam Pela, the talented engineer in charge of Pela Motorsports has been in business since 2009 but this truck is the product of his second company, DmaxSwap.com, They’ve been creating award-winning, feature-worthy Duramax rides for the last several years. Located in Jupiter Florida, the shop is known for getting the job done correctly and his showroom is always filled with enthusiasts, either looking for upgrades or wanting to start complete new builds. Comfortable creating slammed, lifted, or rides somewhere in between like this Pre-Runner, the DmaxSwap team brings a level of experience and creativity to each build that ensures rides are equally at home in the dirt, on the road, or in the winner’s circle.
The unusual story behind this 1987 Chevrolet Silverado began as the vision of one of DmaxSwap’s customers. His dream was to own a daily driven street truck with the power, handling and performance characteristics of a modern turbo diesel but with the look and capability of a classic 80’s Baja Truck! In short, he wanted a Baja-style Pre-Runner.
If you’re a fan of off-road racing, you’re already familiar with the challenge of the Baja 1000, a demanding test of competence, both of the driver and the vehicle as they race down the Baja Peninsula. The winning teams employed Pre-Runners, separate vehicles, similar in build to their trophy trucks, as a way to scout the course before the race. As a result, Pre-Runners needed good off-road tires, stout suspensions, quality shocks, and powerful motors to get the job done. While few fans of the sport could actually run the race, they could copy the style, cranking up torsion bars and fitting wide fiberglass fenders to imitate the Pre-Runner look.
Although the vision of the DmaxSwap customer was clear, his family situation was less so. Part way through the build, the build team was contacted by the very angry wife of the owner who said the project must come to a halt! It was clear who was the driving force in the family and, as a result, the half-completed truck gathered dust in storage for more than two years. Adam bought the truck, intent on completing it and adding his own spin to the project. Although the original build goals were still valid, thanks to the raft of extra touches added by the team, the completed vehicle is a super cool, classic Baja contender that rips on the road or off!
Assembling the basics originally began with the purchase of a 1987 Chevrolet K10, only in fair condition but perfect for the project. Since the goal was 37-inch Baja rubber with no lift kit, lots of structural accommodations were required with the cab. Internally, the inner fender panels were reworked to make room for the oversize tires while externally, wide AutoFab custom fiberglass Baja fenders nailed the Pre-Runner look. Cosmetic upgrades included eliminating the rain gutters, then adding a new Harwood fiberglass low-profile cowl hood, LMC grille, and LMC doors with one piece power windows. Changes to the bed included raising the floor to accommodate the oversized rubber, then fabricating wider wheel tubs and closeout side panels for a finished look. LMC headlights and taillights along with Heise LED Baja lights provide illumination while trophy truck tube bumpers provide protection and reinforce the look.
One of the benefits of the DmaxSwap group is the range of in-house talent. While the bodywork was underway, the chassis specialists were also busy, creating a modern frame to complement the classic look. Beginning with a fully boxed steel frame, a 2007 Silverado 2500 front clip was added with the front axle moved forward 1.5 inches for increased suspension travel and tire clearance. Heavy 2X4 box tubing was used to construct the back half, holding the trailing arm suspension and AAM 11.5 Posi rear axle, running 3.73 gears. Fox shocks up front and ADS coil overs in the rear ensure controlled cornering and soft landings over the whoops. Effective stopping power comes from the combination of GM Hydroboost with drilled and slotted discs while RedHead steering gears provide precise control. The truck rolls on Method Con6 17 x 10 rims and aggressive Mickey Thompson 37 x 12.50 x 17 rubber.
Obviously, the most important part of any Pre-Runner is the powertrain and Adam’s gearhead tendencies mean nothing is ever left stock. The 2007 LBZ 6.6 L Duramax diesel began with a fully rebuilt and balanced Street Performance long block, running Mahle Motorsports cast pistons along with a keyed crank and cam. The fuel/air mix is pressurized by a Calibrated Power Stealth 64 turbo charger with a DmaxSwap low-profile inlet horn and a Pusher SuperMax Y-Bridge manifold guiding air into each cylinder head. Fuel is delivered through Exergy Performance Sportsmen injectors. Once the DmaxSwap standalone harness lights the fire, exhaust is routed through a driver’s side high flow manifold and a custom 4-inch exhaust with a high flow down pipe. The combination is clearly designed for rapid transit, pumping out a stout 1200 pounds-feet of torque and 650 horsepower to the Suncoast Allison 6-speed automatic, fitted with a Suncoast 1056 billet triple disc. Custom linkage was designed to use the factory column shift for the Allison transmission. Additional upgrades include a Melling high-performance oil pump, custom transmission cooler, and an OEM Duramax radiator and intercooler.
Moving into the home stretch, the interior crew was eager to add their design skills, ensuring that driver and passenger were comfortable in supportive Corbeau seats. Dakota Digital RTX gauges reside in a new LMC dash, monitoring vital under hood parameters. Naturally Vintage Air was a mandatory addition with Florida’s (and Baja’s!) scorching summers. Laprade Customs in Stuart, Florida stepped in to complete the project, ensuring that the sheet-metal and glass additions were arrow straight. After the gaps were set to perfection, they finished the project with a distinctive Battleship Gray paint job. The completed truck is a master class blend of perfect stance and subtle design.
After almost two years of work, the result is a super cool, retro trophy truck featuring classic Square Body lines with ultramodern power, ride quality, handling, and braking. Although it’s vintage on the outside, this old ’87 K10 moves like a new 2007 OEM Duramax. Anyone up for a quick scouting run down the Baja Peninsula? We’ve got the ride and it’s got A/C!