This article originally appeared in the April 2016 issue.
Tyson Underwood is a crazy man. He has to be; otherwise there’s no explanation for what he’s attempting to do. As the owner and sole proprietor of Point Blank Performance in Brookland, Ark., Tyson is building exotic versions of diesel trucks that he calls Super Diesels. Once you lay your eyes on them, it’s easy to see why.
His flagship vehicle is a 2015 Chevy Duramax LML that, as you can see, is dressed to the nines. But according to Tyson, if it’s just a pretty face, he’d rather not bother. “It’s cool when a truck looks pretty, but man, if it doesn’t run, I couldn’t care less,” he says. “That’s just the way it is. If it doesn’t run and it can’t get out of its own way, and you can’t have fun with it and every once in a while power slide it around a corner, I don’t care nothing about being in it.”
Tyson started Point Blank in February of 2010 with the goal of catering to high-end clientele, people who have the money to buy a pre-built truck that just screams luxury. He feels that there’s a section of the diesel market that’s looking for something special out of their trucks, something that no one else is providing. He wants to fill that niche.
How he got there, and where he’s gone since, is a tale with more ups and downs than you might expect. Some time during his senior year of high school, he had an epiphany. “I somewhat enjoyed school, but I knew that, hey, there’s more out there than this, and this is what I want to do. Long story short, one weekend my senior year, I decided to drop out. Just didn’t want to proceed with, in my opinion, wasting my time with that stuff.”
So he dropped out and got his GED. From there, he decided to get his hands dirty right away and go to WyoTech to learn how to be a technician. He says, “I knew I loved trucks and had some pretty cool stuff, but never really knew how to work on them. One thing I always looked at was how things could be done better. Where things are at in the diesel industry could look cleaner, better.”
Upon completing the nine-month course, Tyson graduated at the top of his class, then went to work for a local Dodge dealership. He dove right in with their master-level technicians, but soon found that the pay wasn’t enough to sustain his lifestyle, so he decided to open his own shop. He taught himself the performance side of things, because his education at WyoTech was simply enough to “give you the tools to start out. When you go there, it’s very vague.”
In The Big Time
His first year went swimmingly for him—better than he expected, actually—but he admits he got a big head. He says, “I thought, I’m going to move to Dallas. I’m going to open up a shop there. I thought there was enough truck stuff there that could support what I do. Higher-end clientele is what I’m always trying to achieve. So I moved to Dallas and found out really quick that time is the one thing that you need, and when you move somewhere super big like that, it’s hard to make it.”
After only eight months in Texas, he pulled the plug and went back to Arkansas for a year or two, then tried his hand at another move—this time to Scottsdale, Ariz. Life was similarly unkind to him and he only made it nine months before turning back around yet again and heading home.
“I didn’t see that curious of a truck market there,” recalls Tyson. “I couldn’t get real serious people. We went to the Dub shows, we went to Cars and Coffee, we even had a booth at the Dub show, and we didn’t pull one person off it. I was kind of crushed. We had spent all that money.”
Back To His Roots
Now that he’s back home, Tyson is doubling down on his dream. “I like fully functional, daily driver, SUPER clean trucks. I like functional rigs. And I like them fast as hell. Anybody driving a Mustang or Corvette or whatever, it’s going to roll with it. I’ve poured my heart and soul into it.”
That heart and soul is on full display with his Chevy. He started with a High Country model, which you can see in the stitching on the leather seats. They took off the High Country badges on the doors and replaced them with their own custom-made Point Blank Performance badges that mimicked the look of the old badges. Those badges cost $400 apiece. “I wanted the highest quality that we could, tastefully, instead of a sticker all over the back glass that said Point Blank Performance, because anybody can do that,” he explains.
You Gotta Have POWER
As for the performance modifications, take a deep breath, because it’s quite a list. For starters, there’s a dual fueler used in conjunction with the stock CP4 pump, T4 turbo kit, custom cold-air intake, and hot and cold side intercooler pipes all from Wehrli Custom Fabrication. There’s also a Borg Warner billet S369 turbocharger, Dynomite Diesel 30 percent over injectors, Manton rocker arms, and HSP billet exhaust manifolds and 2-inch up pipes. Those up pipes are actually a custom construction, because the standard HSP pipes aren’t made to work with the turbo kit the truck uses. All of the engine components, like the turbo housing, down pipe, up pipes and full exhaust, are coated in black cerakote to withstand high engine temperatures, up to 2200 degrees. The truck also sports Cognito upper control arms, a Fleece Performance oil feed line kit, an AirDog G4 low-pressure pump, and a Beans Diesel fuel tank sump. Finally, the whole thing is rolling on 22x12 Fuel Forged wheels wrapped in Nitto G2s, all under a ReadyLIFT leveling kit.
Tyson is working with Motor Ops and PPEI to get the custom tuning all dialed in. He’s not sure what numbers the truck is posting, because he says dynos are kind of hard to come by in Arkansas, especially load-bearing ones. Any shops with dynos only cater to cars, so they’re not equipped to handle a big truck. Regardless, he says that based on their initial testing, the truck is over 600hp right now, with the goal being 650-700hp. Any future trucks bearing the Point Blank name have the same goal in mind.
Light It Up
The next figure is likely to blow your mind a little: $7,000 worth of lights. Yep, you read that right. “That’s the big kicker,” Tyson says with a laugh. He worked with plainANsimple By Design to get all the lights put in. For the high beams, they used a Rigid Industries Aviation LED; for the low beams, Retrofit Source upgraded projectors. The signal lights are all white when they’re on, then flash yellow when you hit the turn signal. The fog lights are projector fog lights from Morimoto. They added clear lenses to the turn signals on the mirrors and then added signals to the housing of the mirrors by tapping into the signal line as well, and those also go from white to yellow. The rear lights are Recon lights that were taken apart and modified to include a Baja Designs reverse LED. Finally, the third brake light is painted to match the rest of the lights.
The interior was mostly left alone, since the High Country version of the truck is already pretty plush as far as amenities go. The one thing he added was an all-digital Edge Insight gauge. The bumper is spaced out a half-inch to clear the wheels and tires.
Even with just a glance, you can tell how much care Tyson puts into his work.
“I am very meticulous,” he says. “When people paint stuff, when things are done, I expect grade-A quality, and one of the hardest things to see in the market is the half-assed work. It is absolutely life-draining. I’m trying to be the one crazy guy from Arkansas saying that the diesel market needs to be held to a higher standard and that these trucks can compete with half-million dollar cars, and they can. That’s the gist of me. It’s been me for six years. I’ve had painting on some things redone two to three times, and it’s a brand-new truck!”
Baddest of the Bad
What it all comes down to is how badass the truck is. Tyson is looking at other luxury shops around the country for inspiration and trying to make a name for himself. He says, “I’m going to make it so when people look at the diesel stuff, they see that it came from Point Blank and they think, ‘This is the baddest thing in the world.’ Everybody can put a lift, wheels, and tires and some headlights in, that’s cool. But who can build a 700hp daily driver, functional, maintenance-free aside from basic oil changes and fuel filters, like you went to Shelby in Las Vegas and got a Super Snake GT 500 or a Raptor and you’re out the door? That’s what I’m trying to do with the trucks.”
If all these details combined with the pictures have you salivating, you’re in luck, because this truck is for sale. The price is a cool $115,000. With everything that’s poured into it, you better believe it’s worth every penny. Tyson is reaching for the stars, and with the quality work he’s putting out there, the sky’s the limit.
Photos by Point Blank Performance and 490Media
Point Blank Performance
plainANsimple By Design
Wehrli Custom Fabrication