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Unread 01-22-2014, 10:51 AM
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Fair! Fair! is online now
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Join Date: Jul 2004
Posts: 6,093
Default Re: Vorshlag Shop Truck - 5.3L SWB GMT800

Project Update for Jan 22, 2014: Not a big update here, just a long overdue front end makeover for our shop parts hauler, Truck Norris.


If you've read the previous installments you know that this 1999 GMC Sierra has an aftermarket front grill which I hate. This has been the most embarrassing part on this truck since we acquired it, and I've had to look past this eyesore every time I drove it. Instead of making this the first modification, we've instead been focusing on performance and suspension maintenance and upgrades. Now the the truck goes, stops and turns better we can finally spend a little time and money on the front end.

Left: Before, with the hideous aftermarket "billet" style grill and chrome '99-02 surround. Right: After, with the '03-06 grill + new lights

I just couldn't take it anymore. The 1990s era "billet grill" that some previous owner installed was just too tacky and had to come off. I really would have preferred to get a 2003-06 GMC to start with, but this truck we found was such a good deal and it was the rare short bed / single cab / 5.3L / RWD package that proved very elusive to find. So I settled on this 1999 with the intent of upgrading to the '03-06 front end at some point.

The only difference in the 1999-2006 model GMC 1/2 ton was the front end; finding the SWB model was tough

I searched the land of interwebs for a deal, high and low, but finally settled on getting the non-chrome '03-06 reproduction GMC grill from fleaBay for $99 shipped. This was considerably less than many other sources, once you factored in shipping. And I skipped the chrome, as I am not a fan of that super shiny coating. The more chrome removed from this truck the happier I am. This unit is a grey outer section with black horizontal bars, which matched the base model Sierra of that 2003-06 model run.

We also picked up new headlights and turn signal lights, with new bulbs, which came to about $80 shipped. The factory headlights were all foggy and half the bulbs were burned out, and the parts were too cheap to replace rather than polishing the old surfaces. The "GMC" emblem is a closely guarded product that you can only buy new from GM, so we got one from a local GMC dealer. Even with our wholesale account it was still $65, ouch! But there's nothing else I'd rather have to fill that hole in the grill, and it sets off the front of the truck well.

The old billet looking aftermarket grill will be for sale on CraigsList later today, if you have to have one. Asking price: fifty bucks. These things sell for $300+ new.

Olof handled the grill and headlight swap in under an hour. This 2003-06 GMC Sierra grill bolted on without any issues on this 1999 model GMC. If you look closely you can see that the angled lower edge of center section of the new grill doesn't quite match the rounded opening of the lower 1999-02 bumper.

You can see the difference side-by-side with Ed's '03 GMC 3500 at left next to Truck Norris with the '03 grill and the 1999 lower bumper, at right. The rest of the parts totaled over $400 for the newer lower bumper, lower fascia, fog lights, brackets and all the rest. Shipping was the major killer there. So I punted, took a gamble, and tried the new grill with the old bumper. Didn't know if it would work, or if it bolted on, how it would look. In the end it is hardly noticeable, and its a shipload better than before.

Ideally I will go to some local body supply place like Certifit (who doesn't list prices online and doesn't ship) and pick up the non-chrome '03-06 lower bumper and fascia parts, soon. The body colored fascia piece will need paint (dilemma - do we stick with this champagne color?) and the steel bumper piece will need powder coat. The plan is to have the chrome bits all powder coated the same charcoal grey as the wheels, so at least we know where that is going.

While we were doing the grill swap Brandon got a shot of the fat Taylor 409 Spiral Pro Race spark plug wires, shown above. You can see the American Racing Headers full length stainless headers in this shot as well. We sell all of this stuff, so if you see something you like, give us a shout.


We had a freak cold snap and wicked ice storm a few weeks back - not something we are used to in Dallas. I had fun hooning around in Truck Norris on nearly deserted roads that day, but I admit there was some difficulty leaving from a stop light on ice with the "one wheel peel". A limited slip differential upgrade needs to happen soon, then we have some other tuning work that needs to be done. The engine is running rough at idle when its cold, so we need to track that down.

There are some other small updates that are bugging me, like the fact that we don't have a mic on the Alpine head unit, so I cannot do hands-free calls. That's a safety issue that I am going to see fixed, and soon. I'd love to rebuild the trans and stick in a hotter LSx motor, but with 8 vehicles now I have to stick to a tighter budget than ever on the GMC. Everything in its time.

Thanks for reading,

Last edited by Fair!; 07-03-2017 at 09:22 AM.
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