The idea for Godfather Custom's latest cover truck began with a conversation over several drinks at one of our favorite SoCal dining establishments. Hal Johnson, president and owner of Godfather Customs, wanted to build yet another award-winning, kick-butt, and take-no-prisoners custom.
Hal had ventured west of the Mississippi for the annual NOPI Import Auto Salon held here in California. He proceeded to tell Dave Withrow (Truckin' magazine's publisher) and me that when we came back to Atlanta in roughly two weeks, he wanted us to photograph his latest truck project. The only problem was that Hal didn't have the truck nor did he know exactly what he wanted to build except that whatever it would be, the truck had to be done in two weeks. His one stipulation was that it had to be good enough to make the cover.
Two weeks to some may seem like an eternity for those who lead a sedentary lifestyle, but in the magazine publishing business where everything -- and we do mean everything -- runs on deadlines, two weeks is nothing. So we promptly mapped out a plan and time frame that seemed to work for everyone involved. However, the problem still persisted about what kind of truck to build and whether it should be body dropped or not. Normally, we would love to have the lowest body-scraper possible for the front cover, but again, with two weeks to get the truck and prepare it for the World's Leading Truck Publication cover, certain sacrifices had to be made, so the body dropping scenario was out.
However, the following plan was formulated: Build the world's first completely modified GMC C3 Sierra. While on the outside, this may seem like another mundane-appearing 1/2-ton truck, what lies underhood and for suspension is another thing entirely. This Sierra C3 is so impressive, it won the much-coveted Truckin' Magazine 2001 Truck of the Year Contest. It features an all-wheel-drive suspension and a very torquey 6.0L V-8 that makes gobs of horsepower and torque. So there you have it, the foundation for success was laid. However, it presented many problems as well.
As a result of the C3 being an AWD truck, lowering it to extremes took a lot of time and patience. Hal was supremely confident his that Godfather Customs crew could accomplish the formidable task at hand. Collectively, we all came up with the following plan: Godfather Customs would lower the truck, get it decked out in the latest cool-colored graphics, and have the truck be Truckin' magazine's first cover truck to run massive 23-inch wheels and tires from Giovanna Wheels and Toyo tires, respectively.
So with time pressing, Hal headed back to Atlanta and called us right from the local GMC dealership near his house. We all got on the telephone in a conference call and collectively came up with the right truck with the correct options per whatever Dave and I wanted on the C3; whatever was not there, Godfather Customs would soon upgrade with aftermarket components. Upon making the final transaction, the truck Hal drove off the dealership lot in was a brand-new '01 GMC C3 Sierra with a deep-black exterior and a nice light-gray, two-toned leather interior. From there, it was a twice-daily barrage of calls asking what we thought of this or that idea and us explaining what other elements we would like to see. Again, more telephone calls and even more e-mails would become the norm for the next two weeks leading up to Dave's and my arrival in Atlanta.
As you can see from the end result, the efforts on our part were well worth the two weeks of near minute-to-minute stress. Not only did Godfather Customs get one cool show truck, but Hal Johnson also got a really nice daily driver that is a rolling business card for his business. Finally, we got a very nice cover truck with one of the very first sets of 23-inch chrome-plated Giovanna wheels in the country. Was this experience worth all the time and stress involved to make it happen in our short window of opportunity? In a nutshell: yes. This is what we love. When a person and a company such as Hal Johnson and Godfather Customs is willing to take our ideas and suggestions and run with them to create a partnership we can collectively agree upon and make the cover of the World's Leading Truck Publication, then that says a lot about their company and even more about the power of Truckin'.
The nuts and bolts behind Godfather Custom's stunning show truck read like a Who's Who from Hal's extensive catalog. To get the desired ride height, a set of prototype Belltech AWD keyways was used to severely alter the C3's ride height. These key ways are very similar to Belltech's 4x4 lowering system. Once installed, Godfather Customs cranked down on the front torsion bars to get the truck ever so slightly lower, then added a set of DJM Suspension spring eye hangers and a rear shackle kit to the rearend.
To smooth out the bumps and dips in the downtown Atlanta highways, Godfather Customs also fit the truck with Toxic shock absorbers and a set Firestone Ride Rite airbags out back. Now tucked under the four corners are a set of 23-inch chrome-plated Attack Giovanna wheels measuring 10 inches wide all the way around and covered in SUV-sized P305/40R23 Toyo Proxes. Not only was Hal's two-week wonder the very first truck to grace the cover of Truckin' dressed in 23s, but these were one of the very few first sets now available from Giovanna, which is a leader in the plus sizing of luxury chrome-plated 18- to 23-inch wheels.
In addition to the way-cool suspension modifications and massive Giovanna wheels and large Toyo tires, Godfather Customs also drastically altered the exterior sheetmetal with brand-new door handles. Gone are the very large and quite ugly stock pieces and swapped into their place are a pair lifted from a new Corvette. Not only are these much more aesthetically pleasing but they also practically get lost in the side of the truck for a stealthy, almost shaved appearance. Besides the cool door handle mod, the truck bed was capped with a Gaylord's X-2000 hard tonneau cover, and a Sir Michaels roll pan now resides where the stock bumper once sat. A filled and flipped tailgate handle from Sir Michaels further complements the truck's rear appearance. The final backend dress-up items consist of a new set of APC Euro Clear taillamps.
Up front, Hal also replaced the stock hood with a new steel cowl-induction unit from Reflexxion. The less-than-pleasing factory mirrors were swapped out with new Street Scene signal mirrors and a wiper cowl. The final appearance items on the wiper cowl were a set of Zoop's billet wiper arms. However, the coup de grace was when Hal placed a call to his good friend Doug DeBerti at Trenz Manufacturing to have his crew come up with a unique approach to a replacement billet grille. What Doug came up with can only be described as unique. Not only was the polished insert built and installed into the grille shell, it also incorporated the Godfather Custom's logo into it. Doug then powdercoated the recesses of the logo to help it pop out better and make it appear as if it is floating in billet. The final mod prior to paint was a new set of PIAA foglamps.
Once the C3's deep-black basecoat was scuffed up at Gary's Body Shop in Decatur, Georgia, the truck was covered in its new tribal-flamed hue in multiple layers of 2-Stage House of Kolor paint. The colors consist of Candy Lime Gold over Lemon Yellow followed with Sunset pearl over Persimmon and finally coated with Candy Violet of Lavender. Most of these colors make up the tribal flames that run down both sides of the truck, across the top of the hood, and onto the back of the tailgate. The whole scheme looks very cool and with its pearlescent paint, it is ever so eye-appealing in just the right light.
Pop open the Corvette door handles and the inside reveals a very nice factory two-toned interior that Godfather Customs made even better with more Trenz products on the gas and brake pedals, plus new polished billet sill plates. Fit to the dash is a new woodgrain kit from APSIS USA in Huntington Station, New York, plus a new matching leather-and-wood-wrapped steering wheel. Inside the dash, the anemic stock radio was replaced with a new Pioneer head unit consisting of a color television monitor plus a complete Pioneer audio system incorporating new replacement speakers, amplifiers, and a pair of subwoofers. The entire system was built, designed, and installed by Troy Milner at Audio Concepts in Conyers, Georgia. Fit to the driver-side pillar post was an Auto Meter pod filled with dual Auto Meter gauges that help monitor all of the vital underhood details. Playing guard over the entire truck and system is a Spal security system.
Under the Reflexxion steel cowl-induction hood rests a powerful 6.0L V-8, but Hal was certainly not content enough to let it rest on its laurels. So out went many of the stock components, including the factory exhaust and manifolds, plus the stock air filter assembly and the mass air sensor. After that, Borla headers and an after-cat system were installed as well as an Airmax Spiral Flow cold-air intake incorporating a K&N air filter and a Granatelli Motorsports Mass Air Sensor. Complementing the motor is a set of Zoop's billet hose ends, an Optima red-topped battery that handles both the cold starts of the motor and the severely upgraded audio accessories, and new Taylor Ignition matching yellow spark plug wires.
There you have it. Not bad for a two-week wonder. This project just underscores the philosophy of what can be done when three individuals put their minds to task. Simply put, the creation of the world's first fully modified GMC Sierra C3 tucking 23-inch Giovanna wheels was all done in less than a month. Another first from the World's Leading Truck Publication.