A few basic upgrades can add a lot of style and function to your daily driver
Crew cab 4×4 GM pickups are a dime a dozen around jobsites. White is the most common color with silver probably being a close second by our observations. Most are as bland as the ground they work.
That’s usually the way it is with fleet pickups.
But it isn’t the way it has to be if you are the owner of a smaller company where you own the pickup you drive and it’s both your daily driver and rolling business card.
Have some fun. Spice it up a little. Break out of the bland box. Turn a few heads. Add some style while upping the function factor.
That’s the idea behind Project Bedrock, our 2011 GMC Sierra Crew Cab 4×4 SLE. It’s the typical pickup a contractor would be driving if it had to do double-duty as both work pickup and weekend family vehicle. The twist is a few of the common contractor-type upgrades we’re adding aren’t that common.
BED WITH TRED
For example, our friends at Truck Supply & Outfitters here in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, knew we wanted the bed to carry gear and pets safely on weekend camping trips, yet be able to withstand the weekday abuse it would get when used by the typical landscaper or contractor.
We wanted the bed to be easy on the knees, while protecting the bed itself from dents, dings and scratches, not to mention container spills and mulch fills.
Their answer: Bedrug’s (bedrug.com; 800-462-8435) BedTred Pro Series drop-in bedliner.
The five-piece BedTred Bed Liner, which attaches to the bed with hook-and-loop fastners, is made of special textured ¼-inch flexible composite material bonded to a layer of waterproof, closed-cell foam.
The textured surface prevents cargo from sliding, while the thick foam and non-woven fiber backing that’s molded to the exact shape of the bed prevents damage to the bed surface.
Another area we wanted addressed is protecting the GMC’s one-piece rear window from possible damage should we be hauling anything above bed height. But we didn’t want the mundane wire-mesh headache rack.
Backbone Truck Accessories (getbackbone.com; 877-992-2252) had that aspect covered in spades. These guys have designed a headache rack combo that has all the function and form you could ever want. It’s simply called Backbone – and it turns heads.
The Backbone is made from a combination of hand-welded 304 polished stainless and polished (or powder-coated) aluminum components. It’s all custom work, built to the exact measurements of your pickup. No off-the-shelf stuff here.
We ordered the Backbone hoop and “short ribs” version of the bed rails to fit a crossover tool box, along with the ¼-inch polished aluminum Skullscreen to protect the rear window. (The short ribs end caps are tied in to the truck’s brake lights.) The rack also came with multiple tie-downs that slide within the Backbone’s inner slots.
As we have detailed on our Project Bedrock web site (propickupmag.com/project-trucks/bedrock/), TSO’s Daniel Parker and Alvin Bordelon installed the rack, which fits together with high-end hardware.
IN THE WINGS
To add a little more flare and function, we topped off the bed upgrade with a Brute commercial-class Gull Wing crossover toolbox from Unique Truck Accessories (uniquetruckaccessories.com; 800-239-2343).
The heavy-duty Brute is made from thick aluminum with a reinforced floor, full weather seal around the openings, twin-gas struts on each lid and push-button release locks on the ends. There’s a slide tray inside and integrated tool holders for added cargo management.
The Brute complements the Backbone perfectly and adds a level of functionality to the Sierra it didn’t have before we began.
STEP ON IT
Another area we wanted to improve is lower body protection. The GMC’s doors are not protected by rocker panels. So they are vulnerable to damage in off-road situations even though we have a Daystar leveling kit up front and are running 32-inch tires.
Common side-steps and nerf-bars do a good job of adding a little protection and make getting in and out of the cab a bit easier for those who are height challenged, such as kids and four-legged buddies.
But common isn’t what we want. So we turned our attention to Iron Cross Automotive’s (ironcrossautomotive.com; 866-476-6276) HD Steps as the answer. These heavy-duty, black powder-coated aluminum nerf-steps have a distinct design from bar to the step plates.
Installation is easy and the anti-slip tread plates work really well under the soles of muddy boots while adding a very stylish accent to the Sierra.
The Iron Cross HD nerf-steps also do a good job of keeping a certain amount of mud and debris slung up from the various tires we test from damaging the GMC’s body and paint. Again, form with function.
We still have more basic upgrades to do on Bedrock, such as adding a 9,500-pound-capacity Superwinch and Go Industries mount to the front, installing a few basic auxiliary lights and improving the exhaust to see if we can get another mile-per-gallon or so from the 5.3L.
We’ll keep you updated on our progress in the magazine and on our web site.