If you happen to live on the West Coast, specifically Southern California, there's a good chance you've seen this truck. It's impossible to miss, and owners Doug and Kent Pielemeier are a mainstay in the local custom-truck scene. For the last few years, the father-and-son team have single-handedly turned out some of the sickest purpose-built on- and off-road trucks we've ever seen and have routinely been the subject of magazine articles.
Doug's last project was a late-'90s Chevy extended cab that began life as a beaten-down 2WD freeway cruiser and ended up a straight-axle beast that would smoke the living daylights out of the 39-inch Super Swampers it was wearing. That truck, as all the projects that came before it, was entirely crafted inside Kent's aircraft painting shop in Chino, California. The story behind Up on 46s is similar but on a much grander scale.
Kent picked up the white-colored '01 Chevy 3500HD dualie from a local insurance auction with the express intention of building an enormous show truck. The only stipulation that Doug had was that it needed a giant set of wheels and tires. The duo immediately set their sights on building one of the only 2WD trucks to ever clear a set of 46-inch tires. Doing so would not be easy, but nothing the Pielemeiers have ever set out to accomplish has been, so they continued on, undaunted by the task at hand.
The backbone of the massive 29-inch suspension lift is a system of drop-down brackets that Doug and Kent designed and had laser-cut from cold-rolled steel plate. The brackets did not attach to the original control-arm mounting locations like the production lift kits we are all used to seeing these days. Kent cut away all the original suspension mounting locations and then welded the new lift into place. Next, a set of control arms were scratch-built and MIG-welded together, with holes punched out to save weight. The arms and spindles pivot on 1-inch uniballs.
Because the guys had never built a truck of this magnitude before, nor had they seen an IFS lift of this size, choosing a coilover shock system and the appropriate spring rates was left up to the good folks at King Shock Technologies. King responded with a pair of 3-inch coilovers with 900-pound dual rate springs. The coilovers are mounted on custom upper hoops that are welded into the framerails of the truck.
You'd think a truck this big would tip over even a mild corner, right? Well, Doug and Kent planned to drive this bad boy and tow their 30-foot Scarab powerboat, so they designed the suspension to not only look good but work smoothly. With miles of driving in mind, they built a custom front antisway bar to tame the inevitable body roll that nearly 30 inches of lift would create.
The work performed on the rear suspension is just as impressive as the front. Gone is the factory multileaf suspension, and in its place is a three-link setup and another pair of King coilovers. The link bars were built from DOM tubing and plated for strength. The stock dualie rearend was trussed and gusseted with new mounting locations for the link bars and coilovers. The upper coilover mounts were fashioned from the same material as the front shock hoops and position the coilovers on the outside of the framerails.
This was done in an effort to improve the handling of the truck by moving the shocks as far away from the center of the suspension as possible. Finally, a gigantic Firestone air spring was given a home atop the rearend, specifically to help smooth out the load of the 6,000-pound powerboat that the Pielemeiers are known to tow to nearby Lake Havasu in Arizona. During the months Up on 46s spent inside the confines of the shop, Doug and Kent plotted and planned out the perfect rolling stock to complement the new stance of the truck.
What they settled on is nothing short of spectacular: A set of 20x10-inch Ultra wheels were selected and stuffed into a quartet of 46-inch Michelin X1 tires. The combination is huge to say the least and actually very quiet when in motion. We took a ride in this truck and were amazed at how road-friendly the setup was.
Making almost 12,000 pounds of rubber, plastic, glass, and steel move isn't easy. Up on 46s is powered by GM's 8.1L, big-block V-8 and Allison automatic transmission. Remarkably, the only additional power booster put into effect was a custom 4-inch, stainless-steel exhaust system fabricated by Gibson Exhausts. The only other drivetrain modification came in the form of a 4-inch extended driveshaft. There was no regearing for the rearend, no supercharger for the motor -- nothing. Surprisingly, the truck has no trouble spinning the Michelins on command.
The exterior of the truck is a different story, though. Lots of time was spent changing the understated appearance of the truck. The dualie bed was replaced with a Fleetside unit, and door handles from a Cadillac Escalade were swapped in place of the stock HD handles. Also, the rear sheetmetal was revamped with a roll pan, a shaved tailgate handle, a shaved fuel filler door, and '03 Chevy Silverado taillights. The bed also received a motorized tonneau cover, which hides a fullsize spare wheel and tire, which are flush-mounted into the bed floor.
Those who have had the unfortunate experience of competing against Doug and Kent at a truck run know that they have a serious weakness for Valspar's House of Kolor paint products and its brilliant orange and purple hues. In keeping with tradition, Kent sprayed Up on 46s with HOK's Tangelo Pearl and Burple hues inside and out.
You'd need a step ladder to even catch a glimpse of the interior of this truck. We know because we used one to grab some photos of the purple-and-gray leather seating that Augustine at Chino Aircraft Interiors stitched together. The seating is factory Chevy to which Augustine added purple inserts that match the custom bed interior kit. Rolling big means not only having a huge truck but also a huge audio and video entertainment system.
Up on 46s is embellished with three monitors that vary in size from 7 to 10 inches. A Panasonic DVD system keeps the entertainment moving nonstop, and a complete Crystal Audio surround sound-system bumps louder than the law will allow. Doug receives the credit for installing the 10-inch subwoofers behind the rear seat in a custom enclosure, as well as the Crystal component speakers in the doors.
We can't imagine a more inviting environment from which to look down on the rest of mankind. The only question we are left asking now is, what's next? What could these guys do to top this truck? Maybe we shouldn't ask such questions. We don't want to put any ideas into the heads of lunatics such as Doug and Kent.
Owners/hometown : Kent and Doug Pielemeier/Upland, California
Year/make/model : '01 Chevrolet 3500HD Crew Cab long-bed dualie
Engine : 8.1L V-8
Transmission : Allison five-speed
Gear ratio : 4.10
Suspension : Owner-fabricated IFS with uniball-equipped control arms and King Shock Technology coilovers; owner-fabricated three-link rear suspension with King coilovers and Firestone air spring
Tires/wheels : 20x10-inch Ultra billet wheels/46x15-inch Michelin X1 tires
Additional items : Crystal audio/video system; Valspar-House of Kolor paint; Gibson stainless-steel exhaust system and custom leather interior by Chino Aircraft Interiors