Looking back at the history of the custom truck scene, it's obvious that build styles are cyclical. The wild colors, ostentatious body kits, and over-the-top interiors of the '90s have come and gone, and a resurgence of clean design has taken over. However, clean build style is a delicate balance—too much modification leaves the truck looking flashy, and too little leaves it looking little more than stock. For 29-year-old Eddie Stokes, owner of Detroit Autobody in Covina, California, finding this balance was the key to building a flawless truck. So, after picking up a new 2011 GMC Sierra to serve as his blank canvas, he turned to master fabricator Aaron Iha of Chassis by Aaron, also of Covina. Combining his knowledge of paint and body with Aaron's years of custom metalworking experience, the stock Chevy would soon be elevated to a new level of clean style.
The build process began at Aaron's shop, where the factory fresh truck was immediately stripped down to the frame. Although many shops can build trucks that lay frame, Aaron also knows how to build a chassis that retains excellent handling and ride quality, so he began by cutting off the rear frame at the cab and adding tabs to accept a forward four-link. The new rear subframe is CNC-cut 1⁄8-inch plate steel and incorporates a C-notch, body mounts, hidden hitch, and bed mounts. The Chassis by Aaron team then narrowed the rearend 3½ inches on each side, added tabs to support the four-link with adjustable aluminum upper bars, a Panhard bar to center the axle, and cantilever airbag mounts. Up front, new sheetmetal upper and lower control arms with Uniballs were fabricated out of 3⁄16-inch steel and were built 1½-inches narrower than factory. New upper control arm mounts were welded in place to correct the front geometry and accommodate 10 inches of lift at all four corners. Fox 2.0 shocks were valved for the weight of the Sierra and combined with 2800-pound Contitech airbags create a smooth ride with performance handling. To complete the rolling chassis, Wilwood big brakes were installed all around and topped off with 26-inch Bonspeed wheels and Falken tires.
Once the air suspension was dialed in, the chassis was sprayed in a fresh coat of black, and then the cab and bed were bolted back on. Now, it was time to give the truck enough power to spin the big billet wheels with a dab of the throttle. Eddie promptly called up Vortech and ordered a Vortech/Lysholm twin-screw supercharger kit, which crams 8.5 psi of pressure into the Sierra's 5.3L and adds nearly 140 hp. To add even more power, a Banks water/meth system was installed along wtih a set of Banks Power headers and a 3-inch Spintech muffler. Aaron even fabricated a custom airbox and intake pipe, which dresses up the engine bay and also helps the V-8 inhale plenty of cool air. The new setup then received a custom tune at SoCal Tuning & Performance in Ontario, California.
With the GMC's functional upgrades handled, Eddie applied his own paint and body experience to improving the truck's exterior. Here's where the clean style comes into play, since the body panels were left completely stock with the exception of wheel tubs and a shaved tailgate handle. Paramount Restyling billet grilles were installed in the hood and bumper, a SnugTop tonneau cover was bolted on, and then it was time to move on to paint. Eddie's team at Detroit Autobody sprayed the truck in a distinctive one-off mix of PPG Gold hues, leaving paint that seems to shimmer and change shades in the sunlight. To further set off the extravagant new color, billet side mirror covers and door handles were brushed to a unique matte finish. Much of the truck's interior was also paint-matched in gold, as well as the custom metal underhood panels created by Chassis by Aaron. To finish off the interior, the seats and pillars were wrapped in Katzkin graphite grey leather by Rogelio's Upholstery of Baldwin Park, California. Finally, Kent Fletcher of Glendora, California, upgraded the truck's audio with an Alpine head unit, JL Audio speakers, JL amps, and two JL 10-inch subs under the rear seat.
While there's nothing wrong with upgrading your truck with bolt-on suspension parts and a body kit, it takes true mastery to build a custom truck with little more than raw metal and skill. Thanks to Aaron Iha's talented metalwork and Eddie's paint and body know-how, this subtle masterpiece doesn't reveal its intricate custom fabrication at first glance, but upon further inspection, it leaves onlookers awestruck. For helping with the build, Eddie would like to thank Chassis by Aaron, PPG, the Detroit Autobody team, Banks Power, Rogelio's Upholstery, and Kent Fletcher.
Inside the Build
Year Make Model:
2011 GMC Sierra
Owner and City/State:
Eddie Stokes • Covina, California
Type: 5.3L V-8
Induction: Vortech/Lysholm twin-screw supercharger at 8.5 psi, Banks water/meth, Chassis by Aaron custom-fabricated intake pipe and airbox
Exhaust: Banks Power headers, Spintech 3-inch exhaust
Cooling: Vortech air-to-water intercooler
Fuel System: Vortech fuel rails, high-flow injectors, and stainless fuel lines
Engine Management: Custom tune by SoCal Tuning & Performance
Output: 460 rwhp
Transmission: 6L80 six-speed automatic
Rearend: 4.10 gearsChassis
Front suspension: Contitech 2800-pound 'bags, Fox shocks, Chassis by Aaron custom tubular upper and lower control arms with 'bag mounts
Rear suspension: Contitech 2800-pound ‘bags, Fox shocks, boxed rear frame with CNC-cut 1/8-inch steel, cantilevered four-link with adjustable aluminum upper link bars and Panhard bar
Brakes: Wilwood 16-inch front disc, Wilwood 14-inch rear disc, stainless lines
Wheels & Tires
Wheels: 26x10-inch Bonspeed Huntington
Tires: 305/30R26 Falken S/TZ04
Inside the cab, simple paint-matched trim panels and leather-wrapped seating are all the G
Blasting down the freeway on tucked 26-inch billets, Eddie’s Sierra drops jaws everywhere
Chassis by Aaron fabricated these incredible dress-up panels underhood, including the mult
Although Eddie chose to leave most of the truck’s sheetmetal untouched, he did shave the t
Detroit Autobody customized a set of solid billet door handles by brushing them to a matte