Every truck has a story, but there's always a person behind the buildup. The man in question here is Mark Barbee of Peoria, Arizona. Mark is a firefighter and a mortgage broker, and has an affinity for lifted golf carts. When you first meet Mark, you'd never have any idea that he was such a busy guy. Firefighters aren't exactly known for working eight-hour shifts, after all, plus there's his own business - he's a busy dude. Sixty-plus-hour weeks are the norm for Mark.
This '02 GMC is Mark's first truck - at least, the first that's this far into the show scene. He knew he wanted to be low, but he wasn't sure how hard-core he was yet. For the suspension work, he turned to Kevin at Grunion Fabrication in Phoenix. When it comes to airbags and suspensions, Kevin really knows his stuff.
Since Kevin knew Mark was an airbag rookie, Kevin was gentle. Up front, the stock springs were yanked and replaced with a set of Grunion Fab cups and airbags. Since 22s don't just fit perfectly in the front of a fullsize Chevy when it's laid out, the fenders had to be cut out. Mark didn't like that idea, though - he's a bit too much of a perfectionist for that. Instead, he had the stock fenderwells cut, raised, and welded back in. The rear of the truck required a bit more work. The frame was notched, and the stock leaves were tossed in the trash. In place of them, Kevin installed a Grunion Fab two-link with airbags off the frame. It provides a mechanical advantage to the link, and gives the back end of the truck a ton of lift. Cole Russell came in to do the plumbing on the system, and a set of 22-inch Boze Wedge wheels with a custom offset was wrapped in 285/30-series rubber
Since Mark now had a killer suspension and big wheels, he needed some premium stopping power. Baer Brakes is right up the freeway from Mark, so he called the guys there and ordered a set of Eradispeed brakes for all four corners - that's pretty important when you're rolling a big wheel. Now he had all this cool stuff on his truck, but it just wasn't cool enough for him. So he ripped out his entire suspension and had it chromed. The air tanks, the two-link bars - heck, even the bed supports - were yanked and chrome-plated. This is a guy who pays attention to details, that's for sure.
Low wasn't good enough for Mark, through, as he had visions of trophies dancing through his head. He was taking apart the truck one night, and he had his bed on a stand. All of a sudden - bam! - there went the bed, right off the stands. He took the truck and now-mangled bed off to Owen's Custom paint for a respray and some bodywork. The truck was straightened out, and in the process, the tailgate handle was shaved.
With the truck in pieces, Mark decided to swap out some of the stock parts for custom pieces. Starting out back, the bumper was thrown out and replaced with a Sir Michaels roll pan with a license plate box. A tonneau cover was installed over the bed to protect precious cargo. The stock hood was replaced with a cowl-induction hood for a sporty look, and the headlights were replaced with aftermarket projector headlights. While the truck was being sprayed, Mark had the handles sprayed white to match, and he also had a set of Street Scene mirrors installed. It was done, right?
Yeah right. Now it was time for graphics. This time, Mark called upon a friend of his in the field, police officer Troy Buck from Monster Paint FX. The colors used came from the Nissan parts bin, including Nissan Sunset Lemans and the uniquely named Nissan Silver. A set of tribal flames was airbrushed over the length of the truck, including the tailgate and the top of the tonneau cover. With those cool graphics going all over the truck, Mark felt like they needed to go into the windows, too. For that, he went to Frank's Tint, which used three different colors of tint to continue the graphics through the windows and back into the body.
Around this time, Mark moved to the interior of the truck. He has a thing for carbon fiber. He loves it. Seriously. So he sent off a good portion of his engine bay and his interior to an undisclosed location and had everything wrapped in true carbon fiber: inside the dash - all of it - the overhead console, the seat trim, anything that was easily unbolted and wrapped. Then Mark had his seats done in two shades of gray leather by Todd Jubert at The Interior Shop in Phoenix. Todd also did his headliner and used foam to mimic the graphics on the roof. Everything looked pretty cool at this point, but Mark needed a stereo. For that he called upon the talents of Erin at PAE in Phoenix. Erin built him a full-custom console that wraps into a sub' enclosure and an amp enclosure with a pair of Crossfire amps behind the seats. Now Mark had a pair of 10-inch Crossfire subs pounding away right next to him, and even a monitor mounted near the front. He then ditched the stock steering wheel and replaced it with a full-billet Alter Images Tribal wheel. The gauges were also tossed and a set of Cadillac Escalade gauges was installed.
The finishing touch on the truck was the engine bay. Mark had the shroud, the engine cover, the fuse box, and even the cowl wrapped in carbon fiber. Twin Optima batteries were installed with billet mounts, and an Airaid intake and throttle-body spacer were added as well. Custom-colored hoses were used beneath the hood, and the engine bay retains that stock look, thanks to the extra attention given to the wheelwells
If you've only read the last few paragraphs of this article, you might think that Mark's done with his truck. Not quite. He's still got plans in the mix. First things first, he's supercharger-shopping right now, plus there's the '04 GMC Duramax Crew Cab he's rolling around that's already lifted on big wheels. Then world domination. OK, maybe not, but we know we haven't seen the last of Mark Barbee. And neither have you.