This article originally appeared in the May 2020 issue.
Often with a brand-new truck (and a brand-new truck payment) there can be a little delay in your build, but in this case being featured at the 2019 SEMA Show in Las Vegas in the Truck Hero booth helped jump start the process. Truck Hero’s biggest component on this truck is a bold 6-inch Superlift lift kit, which helps this truck stand out in a big way. Owned by Daniel Delancy of Choudrant, in northern Louisiana, this is a black short bed 2020 GMC Sierra AT4 2500HD 6.6L Duramax. The AT4 trim makes it a fairly high-end, sporty truck that delivers a unique combination of distinctive style, advanced technology, and off-road capability. For the 2020 model year, the engine churns out 445hp with 910 lb-ft of torque and is mated to the all-new Allison 10L1000 10-speed automatic transmission.
The new GM trucks have special enhanced performance, fuel economy, and operational flexibility right off the bat thanks to this Allison that has a lot of speeds. This is great news for heavy towers and haulers demanding a wider ratio spread for better torque distribution; that’s as many speeds as lots of semi trucks out there, and now these new pickups will be able to almost haul like them now, although this is an Allison automatic. This new beefy transmission sure helps and will continue to help Daniel have a lot of fun with his rig; it’s also quite low-maintenance. Daniel has loaded this truck with mods too though, so he’s enhancing the fun of the 2020’s aggressive dynamics even further.
Starting The Build
This build started from Truck Hero Accessory Brands Marketing Director Lee Riser who is a close friend of Daniel’s. She reached out to him to see if he knew anyone with a 2020 AT4 Duramax Sierra because she was looking to do a project with one for SEMA.
“I didn’t have one at the time, but I was due for a new truck, so I stepped up to the plate and said, ‘Tell me what you want and I’ll go get it,’” Daniel recalls.
He gladly obliged and purchased the new GMC in August 2019, knowing it was bound to end up at the premier automotive specialty products trade event in the world a few months later. With some direction from Daniel, Truck Hero completed the entire build in time for the November show with the company’s marketing copywriter Tyler Coolidge doing much of the work.
“I basically told them to do whatever they preferred, because I like their style and I love their products,” Daniel says. “I had some input on some things that I liked, and they worked with me to get it onto the truck. Everything on the truck was custom-built, including the bed cover and power steps.”
Life After SEMA
Daniel’s Duramax is used in various walks of life. It’s largely his daily driver, but he also works as a completion foreman in the oil fields for the Texas-based Hunt Oil Company, so he uses his black Duramax for his job a lot too.
“I travel approximately 1,300 miles per month for work,” Daniel says. Oil is black, so the dark color of his rig seems quite fitting for the profession, doesn’t it? For a work truck, Daniel sure keeps it cleaned up. Other than daily driving and work, the high-end Duramax is quite a sturdy recreational and towing machine as well.
“I am an outdoorsman, and during my time off I use my truck for towing anything from a boat to a 60hp tractor,” Daniel adds.
The truck also towed a Jeep Wrangler on a trailer across the country from Louisiana to the SEMA Show, and it handled the roads effortlessly. He hunts frequently, so he uses the racks for loading his equipment.
“I load my hunting clothes in there too; I shut that Roll-N-Lock cover and it keeps everything high and dry in there.”
With that said, Daniel generally splits his time 50/50 between on- and off-road activities in his GMC. Owning a full-size four-wheel drive off-road truck per se can always make your life more versatile if you try to get full use out of it.
The Strenuous Terrain
Built to be used for a specific profession, oil field work, there haven’t been any engine or powertrain upgrades yet to Daniel’s truck. However, it’s still so much beefier than a stock truck because of its lively undercarriage and body upgrades, along with loads of accessories and add-ons. In most of the photos, the truck comes off as enjoying life in its natural setting; the suspension, wheels, and tires make it fitting for rugged desert terrain. It also makes so much sense as a recreational truck to fit Daniel’s outdoorsman lifestyle.
The 6-inch Superlift Black Diamond edition Non-Torsion Drop (NTD) lift kit blends so well with this truck that it really gives it an extra layer of boldness and sophistication. The lift kit is one of the top-rated in strength and durability and is designed to tackle the toughest of off-road terrain. The kit’s unique “No Drop” torsion bar relocation bracket keeps the suspension well-protected, while he’s out on the rough terrain.
“Working in the oil and gas industry, I travel some of the worst roads in America,” says Daniel. By “worst roads” he means they are among the most difficult ones in non-icy and non-snowy off-roading conditions.
“But thanks to the Black Diamond edition Superlift 6-inch lift kit, my truck makes traveling a breeze, whether I’m traveling down a 15-mile lease road in the Permian Basin or towing my hunting rig down the swampy back roads of Louisiana. You got 3 or 4 feet of water and that truck will go through it with no problems.”
Key components in the rugged Superlift kit include rear traction bars, front lateral strut bars, full Black Diamond edition skid plates, and King 2.5 remote reservoir coil over shocks on the front and rear. Below the suspension are 20-inch Fuel Vandal wheels wrapped with Mickey Thompson 37-inch Baja Boss M/T tires. The tires have an asymmetric tread pattern with a PowerPly 3-ply sidewall construction and four-pitch Sidebiters that are 50 percent larger than any other off-road tire, so they are well-prepared to tackle the extreme desert and mud terrain.
Because he goes off-road so much, Daniel decided to be even more prepared by allowing space for his 37-inch spare tire and wheel of the same setup as what he’s currently using. To allow for that, he used a Roll-N-Lock QwikRak system over his Roll-N-Lock power tonneau cover and then added an ARE Ascend basket onto the rack to hold the tire, a great finishing touch on any truck while achieving the best of both worlds in versatility of a rack system and the security of a tonneau cover. Also on the truck bed are a BACKRACK headache rack for extra cargo security and a BedRug bed liner to keep his bed from getting dinged up from the cargo. Additionally, Daniel had AMP PowerStep XL power folding running boards installed so he and others could climb in and out of the truck more easily.
The Path Ahead
Daniel is only getting started right now. With an off-road truck this loaded, you know he has big plans for it. As far as future add-ons go, he wants to add a replacement front bumper with a WARN hitch. He’s not sure what brand he wants yet, but he’s passionately looking at using a BodyGuard bumper that can hold a ZEON 12 winch. Especially when you’re on those harsh terrains, you never know when you’ll get stuck and need a winch to pull others (or yourself) out.
“The performance of this well-equipped GMC never ceases to amaze me,” he says. “As far as the truck feels overall, it handles everything like a champ. You let go of the steering wheel and there’s no body roll or issues with bumps or potholes whatsoever. With the King shocks, it’s kind of like you’re floating on air.”
Many folks he lets drive his truck also tell him that it’s an absolute pleasure to drive.
In the future, he plans to do a lot of traveling with his truck.
“Florida, Colorado, and that truck will see the whole south-central U.S.,” he says.
He’ll get more into hunting and he’ll continue using the GMC as a tow rig as well.
“It’ll be used to tow a Jeep to Moab, Utah, and other different events across the country I’ve participated in.”
Although he doesn’t currently have any engine or powertrain upgrades, he does plan on getting into that in the future. A cold air intake and a tuner are on his most immediate radar, but his vehicle is so new that he wants to make sure he doesn’t void his warranty and that there are no issues before he starts getting involved with the engine and transmission mods. Regardless, this truck has served him so well so far.
“I get good comments on it everywhere I go,” he says. “The only restrictions I have are parking garages, but other than that, it’ll go about any direction you point it.”
Fuel Off-Road Wheels
Mickey Thompson Tires & Wheels