Photos by John “Headed North” Jackson
This Sonoma Puts Down Plenty of Twin Turbo Power
The fundamental notion of hot rodding is putting a massive amount of power into a small package. Looking good while doing it doesn’t hurt either. In the truck world, the S-10 and Sonoma platforms fill the bill for small packages that still have plenty of room under the hood to make a massive rubber footprint when the gas pedal is slammed down.
General Motors knew this, and in the early ‘90s, as the sport truck craze was booming, they implanted the S-10 platform with turbocharged motors, AWD and exterior styling cues and called the truck the Syclone. Of course, a lower end version dubbed the GMC Sonoma GT was produced that had all of the bark and none of the power bite of the Syclone. Very few were produced and one of these models wound up in the hands of Marty McGuire of Downers Grove, Illinois. He wanted to tear down and rebuild the Sonoma GT into a high-end hot rod concept truck, one that the GM designers dreamed of. His first step was to contact Bob Thrash, who pulled out his pencils and sketched out a rendering and paint scheme for the truck. Marty had a few ideas in his head, but once Bob put his brain to work, Marty knew that the Syborg build would take on a life of its own and the ground-up customization soon began.
As with any ground-up build, the first step is the chassis and suspension work. The truck was delivered to Dave at Competition Fabrication. A full Ride Tech system was installed under a custom back half fabricated from steel tubing, including a parallel 4-link with ShockWaves for performance and a low customizable style. A Currie Enterprises aluminum Ford 9-inch rearend was hooked up to complete the rear. Up front, a full set of RideTech control arms mounted to Bell Tech 2-inch drop spindles and ShockWaves was installed. The plan was to have plenty of power under the hood that would need to stop on command. Massive 14-inch Wilwood brakes with a Wilwood dual master cylinder were installed inside of custom Billet Specialties SLG20 18 x 8 and 20 x 10-inch wheels wrapped in BFGoodrich KDW-II 225/45/18 and 295/45/20 rubber for plenty of traction.
The next step was, of course, to put a beefier power plant under the hood. The factory V-6 was tossed aside, but rather than throw an SBC or LS motor at the mini, Marty opted to drop in a fully built V-6 and add a few accessories to boost its power. Martin Automotive handled the engine build using parts from Race Proven Motors. A Bow Tie 4.7L V-6 was topped with Pontiac 18-degree cylinder heads and a Hogan sheet metal intake manifold. The internals consist of a Crower crankshaft, Oliver connecting rods and JE pistons. A COMP Cams camshaft and Jesel valve train were added. For the power and awe factor a pair of Percision Turbo GTQ32 58 Tangental exhaust housing turbos was added to a full stainless steel exhaust system and Innovative Mini-Gate wastegates. Providing the fuel and spark mix to the compressed air is an Aeromotive fuel system and Big Stuff 3 ECU from MSD. The power is backed up by a Bowler 4L80E transmission.
Returning to the beginning, the truck was brought over to Kenny Davis Hot Rods for plenty of bodywork and paint with graphics to come from Bob who rendered the design for the truck. To fit the twin turbo system perfectly and house the massive transmission, the firewall was set back 2 ½ inches and smoothed, and the wiper cowl was modified to match. An eight-point roll cage was fabricated for safety. On the outside of the body many modifications were made from front to back. The Sonoma GT ground effects kit was kept but molded into the body and widened to match the fenders. The bed was slightly widened to match up flush with the cab. The hinges were removed in favor of adjustable models, and an AVS shaved door kit was installed after all of the handles and gas door were shaved smooth. A custom twin scoop cowl induction hood was made and smoothed. Billet hinges and hood pins were used for a race look and plenty of functionality. Out back the bumper cover was cut, molded in and widened to match the tailgate. Inside of the bed the floor was raised to accommodate the suspension, skinned smooth and enclosures to house the Kicker audio subwoofer and dual Optima battery setup with a custom fuel cell at the rear. Up front, the bumper cover was molded in and an opening for the intercooler was cut out and smoothed. Then Kenny created custom mesh grille inserts using custom-made wood bucks.
With the bodywork finalized, Kenny picked up his spray gun and laid down a two-tone Standox Eclipse Spyder Sunset Pearl and Porsche Prosecco Met scheme before bringing in Bob to add his touch with the Syborg TT lettering and a Subaru Black Granite Pearl anti-glare shield on the hood before everything was cut and buffed to a shine. Once all of the detail work was buttoned up, the Syborg TT traveled to Recovery Room Interiors for a full custom setup that appears to be a high-end OEM luxury design with plenty of tricks. Hydro Illusions provided the tan leather conversion for the stock bucket seats as well as some carbon fiber goodies for the dash and console. Floating headrests were made and RideTech billet accent buttons were added throughout the custom door panels and interior. AutoMeter gauges keep an eye on things under the hood and everything was wired up using an American Auto Wire harness. Rounding things out is a mild sound system from Kicker including a ZX550.3 three-channel amplifier, QS65 6.5-inch component speakers and a Solo Classic S8C 8-inch subwoofer.
The Syborg TT mini is the epitome of a hot rod in mini-truck fashion. Marty kept with the theme laid out by Bob as a highly detailed concept truck that designer’s would only dream of actually being produced.