Ever thought you could make that fun turn by your house going a little faster than normal, only to realize you've just pushed your truck past its limits? You get that sick feeling in the pit of your stomach, your knuckles get white, and usually that turn ends up not being very fun at all. If you can relate to that story, this tech article is for you. Our used and abused '04 Sierra felt more like a school bus trying to turn at speed and with a worn-out stock suspension, puny 16-inch wheels and 275/60R16 donuts, along with no rear sway bar, the truck wasn't raising any hairs on the back of our necks. To get to the bottom of our stock misery, we rented a runway at a private airport and strapped on Racepak's latest GPS data acquisition gear, the G2X, for incredible real-world performance information. This way, we'll know exactly what our stock 0-60 mph, slalom, 1/4-mile, and 80-0 braking figures look like. Once the testing was complete, the data told us what we suspected; our truck was slow, handled like a barge, and was a real buzz kill. No worries, we had a plan.

Our plan for a revived suspension consisted of dropping the truck four inches up front with a McGaughy's spindle and Hotchkis lowering coil spring, six inches out back with a McGaughy's drop shackle and Hotchkis drop leaf, strapping on some burly sway bars engineered specifically for lowered trucks from Hotchkis, and all-new shocks from McGaughy's. To get the most out of the suspension, we ordered a set of Nitto's new street-legal, ultra high-performance summer tires, the NT05. Project Novakane gets its anti cookie-cutter image and name from the wheels we bolted onto each corner-BMF Wheel's 20x9-inch Novakane's in Death Metal Black.

Handling was a priority, but power was a must. We knew the stock 4.8L V-8 still had life left in it and could crank out some serious power to make the Sierra really impressive, which is why we turned to Banks Power. Known for their extensive research, Banks is no stranger to products that "put up, or shut up", so we ordered a Power Pack, which consisted of a new Ram-Air intake, Torque Tubes headers, Monster exhaust, and OttoMind programmer-basically covering the usual suspects of performance bolt-ons.

Want to know how well everything performed? Follow along and get the facts. This way, we make it easy for you to decide what parts are best for your truck. To see the truck in action, check out truckinweb.com for video footage and exclusive autocross action where the old work truck surprised two race-prepped muscle cars!

DRIVING IMPRESSION

FROM THE DRIVER SEAT
OK, editors are known for exaggerating and even I can be convicted of pumping things up a tad too much. But, when it came time to fire the ignition and go do some slalom runs, the Sierra went from work truck beater into Project Novakane. With a deep rumble from the Banks Monster exhaust and bulldog-like looks from the lowered suspension, our truck was ready to have some fun. Throttle response was instant, we could hear the throttle body actually sucking air into the intake, and what may have impressed us the most- the Nitto NT05 tires were completely planted. With a treadwear rating of 200, the tires are much stickier and literally eliminated tire spin during hard launches. Despite being designed for lifted and leveling kit-equipped trucks, the BMF wheels fit our lowered GMC perfectly and the deep lip gives the Sierra a unique, race-style look. Handling was impressive, as the slalom times show, we went through the cones 12 mph faster (an incredible feat for just basic bolt-ons). Hotchkis and McGaughy's lowering components worked very well together and combined to give the 4,300-pound GMC a compliant (though for some it may be too stiff for a daily driver) ride with sports car-like turning abilities. We spent just shy of six grand and considering the improvement, we can't think of anything that can transform your truck overnight better than these mods. Next month, check out how well the track-installed AP Racing big brakes, from Stillen, brought the Sierra to a halt from 80 mph.

YOUR QUESTIONS ANSWERED

Time Spent Working: 12 hours
Degree of Difficulty: Intermediate
(If you can follow directions and you have a good assortment of tools, you can do this in your driveway)

Tools Needed:
Assorted metric and standard sockets and wrenches, jack, jackstands, drill and assorted bits, angle grinder, Sawzall, torque wrench, larger hammer, rubber mallet, screwdriver, prybar

Parts Used:
Banks Monster exhaust 48331 $469.06
Banks Torque Tubes headers 48006 $569.00
Banks OttoMind programmer 66053 $299.00
Banks Ram-Air intake 41802 $358.20
BMF Wheels 20x9-inch Novakane in Death Metal Black $450 (each)
Hotchkis front and rear sway bars for lowered truck 2229 $522.95
Hotchkis 2-inch sport coil springs 1914F-disc $75.00
McGaughys 2-inch drop spindles 33002 $329.95
McGaughys 2-inch drop shackles 33037 $49.95
McGaughys front and rear shocks 2050 $63.95
Nitto NT05 275/40R20 tires $279.95 (each)

Total: $5,848.71
(prices from bmfwheels.com and summitracing.com and does not include tax, shipping, or installation)

SOURCE
Hotchkis Performance
12035 Burke Street
Suite 13
Santa Fe Springs
CA  90670
877-735-6425
http://www.hotchkis.net
AP Racing/Stillen
3176 Airway Avenue
Costa Mesa
CA  92626
866-250-5542
www.stillen.com
Nitto Tire
6021 Katella Avenue
Suite 250
Cypress
CA  90630
877-565-8448
http://www.nittotire.com
McGaughys Suspension Parts
5680 W. Barstow
Fresno
CA  93722
559-226-8196
http://www.mcgaughys.com
Banks Power
546 Duggan Avenue
Azusa
CA  91702
866-738-5915
http://www.bankspower.com
Racepak Data Systems
30402 Esperanza
Rancho Santa Margarita
CA  92688
949-709-5555
www.racepak.com
Summit Racing
Akron
OH
800-230-3030
330-630-0240
http://www.summitracing.com/
BMF Wheels
1401 N. Batavia Street
Suite 107
Orange
CA  92867
888-313-2580
www.bmfwheels.com
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