Trucks are usually built for utility first and anything else like comfort second. Comfort and convenience are often given up in lieu of better towing, hauling, or off-road capabilities
. This is not the case with Denali editions. GMC builds their Denali trucks to have such a level of comfort that you could mistake their interiors and feature lists for a high-priced luxury car. This luxury doesn’t come without a hefty price, however. Air-cooled seats, custom-quality audio systems, and video screen definitely add to the cost of a truck, sometimes upwards of $60,000. This is why you don’t often see Denalis in the custom truck world. Those of us that love customizing trucks usually go for more standard models and add in what we want. That was not the case with Travis Sweigart from Shingle Springs, CA, however. He took a 2011 GMC Sierra HD Denali 4x4 and made it into a luxury beast. Engine The Denali HD comes with a 6.6 L Duramax LML engine and uses a single turbo with Banks Ram-Air intake. All this power needs a solid exhaust system to let the best of an engine exhale, and a Banks 4 inch monster exhaust does just that. To get even more power out the turbo diesel a Banks AutoMind with iQ 2.0 was installed. This helps squeeze as much power from the engine as you safely can. All this brings the truck to 420 hp and 841 ft/lb of torque. Transmission All that power would mean nothing if it weren’t for a good transmission to get it to the road. The 2011 Denali uses a six-speed Allison 1000 transmission with a custom Ford NP273 transfer case. Wait…a FORD transfer case in a GMC truck? This had to be done to mate with the Dana 60 front axle from the 05 and newer Ford Super Duty trucks. The rear-end uses a GM AAM 14-bolt with a Mag-Hytec cover. The original steering box with some custom interior parts from Rare Parts keep the truck driving straight, and fully custom joints and brackets hold everything in place.
Chassis and Suspension Starting off, the very first upgrade done to this truck was a lift kit from B&C Off Road. A 16-inch lift system was used with a four-link rear suspension. King 3.0 coil overs are used in the front and rear with the custom four-link suspension. As I mentioned above, a Rare Parts custom dropped Pitman arm handles the steering with a PSC hydraulic assist. A high steer knuckle was provided by Full Throttle Suspension to round out the steering package. Wheels and Tires To match up with the lift installed on this Denali, 22x14 LRG 103 wheels were used and wrapped in 40x15.50R22 Toyo Open Country M/T tires. This gives the truck a mean look and a great off-road prowess. While these tires are ok for off-road use, they’re not great for dunes. This is why Travis has a pair of one-off set of 40-inch Skat-Trak paddle tires for hitting the sand in style.
Exterior With a truck like this Denali, Travis wanted it to stand out from the crowd. Originally ordered in factory black and wrapped in orange vinyl. Every part that is bolted to the truck was removed and powder-coated in either orange or black to match the color scheme. Road Armor bumpers were installed on the front and rear to give the truck a little more serious look and capacity. Paired with these bumpers you will find an RBP grille and a rear Tire Gate to store the spare up and out of the way. Ask any off-road guy about lighting and you’ll get the same answer. Lighting isn’t only a cool upgrade; it’s vital to getting you home safe and sound. The Denali uses dual 50-inch Bulldog Bone LED light bars on the roof and a single 30-inch bar on the front bumper. Interior As I mentioned above, the interior of the Denali is beautiful from the factory. Travis did choose to upgrade the already lush interior with color-matched trim panels all over, replacing the stock wood-like panels. The stock head unit was replaced with a double-din JVC head unit that controls the upgraded sound system. JL Audio speakers and amps were used throughout the truck with dual competition-level 12” W7 subs under the rear seat.
Wrap-Up This is one serious truck. There are so few Denali HD trucks in the custom and off-road worlds that this is not only a cool truck, but also a very unique one. Spotted by Truckin’ magazine at SEMA, this custom off-road truck wasn’t built for a famous celebrity or athlete, but by a regular guy that loves customizing everything, including his killer Denali HD truck.