With most custom truck owners, referring to their project with terms like hack-job, scrap heap, or ugly will earn you a punch in the face. Chris Volponi of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, is not like most truck owners. His 2000 GMC Sierra is not what most people consider pretty, and not only does he acknowledge this, but he actually went out of his way to make it look that way. He chose body panels in nearly every '99-'02 GM truck color to create its multicolored exterior. Then he proceeded to bolt a ludicrous 650hp turbo LS1 underhood and destroy competitors at the track. We like his style.
It all began with a stock Sierra, but it didn't stay that way long. Chris wanted to create an aggressive look for his standard-cab truck, so he decided to swap the GMC frontend for one from a Silverado SS. He picked up some black '03-'06 Chevy fenders and a hood, bought an SS replica bumper, and found a red grille shell and headlights in a junkyard. The truck's dark green cab remains untouched, with the exception of a liberal amount of body filler. A burgundy and gold GMC shortbed was also added, along with a red roll pan and white tailgate. The body sits on a McGaughys 4/6 drop suspension, as well as Belltech shocks, Caltrac traction bars, and a custom-fit Tahoe rear sway bar. Finally, 18-inch Escalade wheels and sticky Nitto tires were bolted on, and the exterior was complete.
Don't let this truck's disjointed exterior fool you—that's just what Chris wants when he takes it to the track. Popping the hood reveals a 5.7L LS1 from an '01 Corvette, which has been built with forged pistons, rods, LQ9 heads, and ARP hardware. The motor is force-fed by a precision-engineered one-off turbo setup designed by Jeff Oppenheim at 1st-Try Engineering in Coraopolis, Pennsylvania. With a massive 88mm turbo, custom turbo piping, and a custom air-to-air intercooler, it shoves 12 psi of compressed air into the intake. 1st-Try also fabricated a custom 4-inch exhaust with a diesel truck muffler, allowing the engine to exhale freely. The setup is topped off by a built 4L80E transmission and GM 10-bolt rearend with 3.73 gears, a Detroit TrueTrac unit, Yukon axles, and welded axletubes. Chris estimates it makes around 650 hp, and given that he recently ran an 11.58-second quarter-mile at 123 mph, we believe it.
We first met Chris at Holley's LS Fest in 2012, and he competed in our THROWDOWN competition, taking Eighth Place overall. His multicolored Sierra impressed all of us then, and he returned once more to this year's LS Fest THROWDOWN with a fresh orange paintjob and several other mods. Pick up Issue 5 in February to see the completion of this monstrous Sierra. Chris would like to thank The Auto House, Jeff Oppenheim at 1st-Try Engineering, and Hollywood Graphixxx for helping with the project.
Inside the Build
2000 GMC Sierra
Owner and City/State:
Chris Volponi • Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Type: 5.7L LS1, forged pistons and rods, ARP main and head studs
Heads: 6.0L LQ9 heads
Cam: Corvette Z06
Induction: Precision PT88 88mm turbo at 12 psi, 1st-Try Engineering custom turbo piping, high-flow air filter
Exhaust: 1st-Try Engineering custom 4-inch exhaust with 4-inch diesel muffler
Cooling: 1st-Try Engineering custom air-to-air intercooler setup
Fuel System: Dual Walbro fuel pumps, 65-lph injectors
Ignition: Stock coil-on-plug
Engine Management: Factory ECM tuned by FJ Performance
Output: 650 whp (est)
Built by: Chris Volponi/The Auto House
Transmission: Built 4L80E with Jake's Performance shift kit
Rearend: GM 10-bolt with 3.73 gears, Detroit TruTrac, Yukon axles, welded axletubes
Front suspension: McGaughys 2-inch drop spindles, McGaughys 2-inch lowering springs, Belltech Street Performance shocks
Rear suspension: McGaughys flip kit, weld-in C-notch, Tahoe rear sway bar with custom-fabricated mounts, Caltrac traction bars
Brakes: Stock with power Hydroboost conversion
Wheels & tires
Wheels: 18x8-inch Cadillac Escalade
Tires: 295/45R18 Nitto NT555R
With a McGaughys’ Suspension 4/6-inch drop, retrofitted Tahoe rear sway bar, and sticky Ni
Under the hood, an enormous 88mm turbo is nestled next to the built 5.7L LS1. Boost pressu
Chris’s Sierra may not look like much on the outside, but once you see it in action, you’l