This Tauranga-built supercharged and bagged GMC pick-up is probably the last thing you would expect to see cruising the streets of Tahiti
Picture this. You’re lying on your sun-lounger on your own secluded beach in Tahiti, without a care in the world. After working hard for many years, it’s nice just to be able to relax and not worry about working for The Man. But something is missing from this peaceful idyllic lifestyle. The hustle and bustle of a combustion engine. The whine of a supercharger. The pish pish of deflating airbags. Oh yes, these would really complete the picture and make this dream even better. At least that’s what the owner of this 1985 GMC pick-up thought. Known to Andy and the team at Tauranga’s Etchells Race Partz simply as Boosie, the relaxed Tahitian decided he wanted a cool truck, and that Andy’s crew would build it for him.
A Long Way From Home
Having family in New Zealand, and lacking anything performance-related back home in Tahiti, Etchells was the logical choice for Boosie. Because he was only in New Zealand for limited amounts of time, he needed a one-stop shop that could not only build exactly what he wanted, but source a car to start with. The starting point for the project was found not too far away in Rotorua, and was your run-of-the-mill truck. While Boosie could have simply exported it back home as it was, he had a far grander plan. Despite limited English, he informed the Etchells team that it must be low ” very low ” must have good power, must look great and most of all, must be reliable and driveable, as the chances of getting anything fixed in Tahiti are slim.
Like the beginning of an episode of Monster Garage, the truck was quickly turned into a pile of parts. With the chassis stripped bare, the team started on the construction of a monster c-notch to allow the rear diff to rise far higher than standard. With the notch in place a custom four-link was welded in, and before you knew it, the chassis could sit on the ground. To allow the front end the same courtesy, tubular A-arms were fitted with 2-inch dropped spindles. Both the original rear leaves and front coils were sold off as scrap, and in their place is one very trick airbag setup. For peace of mind as well as ride quality, the system is controlled through a digital touch screen in the cab.
From factory the GMC had a fuel tank below each seat. However, given the truck’s new-found ability to hit the deck, the tanks had to be ditched. Instead, tucked away out of sight there’s an air tank setup for the bags on one side and a couple of Optima batteries on the other.
Seeing the chassis sitting on the ground with small steel wheels was impressive, but nowhere near as cool as seeing it with the new rims that Andy had sourced. Measuring in at 10 inches wide up front and a massive 12 inches at the rear, the 20-inch-tall Intro Twisted Vistas are perfect for the truck. Here’s hoping Boosie doesn’t wear out the 325/25R20 Michelin rear tyres too quickly, as who knows if there’s even a tyre machine in Tahiti that can change one of those monsters.
Build It Tough
While the chassis was off getting painted, work began on the motor. Starting with a four-bolt 350ci small block Chev, a bulletproof combination of H-beam rods, forged pistons and the like was pieced together. The no-expense-spared build features all the brands and parts we know, love and wish we could afford. Items such as Edelbrock Performer RPM alloy heads and, of course, the piÃ¨ce de resistance (Boosie speaks French remember, so we’re allowed to be cheesy), a polished Weiand 6-71 supercharger. But that big butter churn isn’t just a show piece. With a couple of decent-sized Holley carbs sitting on top and a hydraulic cam turning below, the combination is good for around 450 to 500hp. Unlike many blown street cars, there’s no under-drive going on here, in fact quite the opposite, as the supercharger is currently seeing eight per cent more revolutions than the crank.
With the standard fuel tanks now crushed to make baked bean cans, an RCI fuel cell has been fitted under the rear of the tray. Feeding the expensive octane from here forward is an electric Holley fuel pump, and metres of braided lines and Goodridge fittings. There’s just a Mr Gasket street scoop sticking out of the bonnet, so you wouldn’t know the truck was blown ” until you hear it fire up, of course. From the front end, all you hear is that wide supercharger belt whining away. From the rear it’s a different story. The twin three-inch exhausts are fitted with Forza Flow mufflers, and thanks to the ‘x’ designed pipes, the sound created is music to any petrol-head’s ears.
The truck’s driveline is relatively simple, yet stout enough not to cause our Tahitian friend any trouble should he decide to impress the locals. A TH350 trans fitted with a shift kit and 2000rpm stall work with the factory column shifter.
Down the rear is the stock LSD diff, which is more than up to the task. Speaking of which, the brakes have also been left alone thanks to GMC’s over-engineering at the factory.
Taking a look inside the cab, you start to think that perhaps Boosie is from the future ” or maybe he just wants to be ahead of the times. To get this effect he’s installed a Windows-powered computer in the cab. This is not only handy for storing music and movies that can be played through the touch screen, but has virtually unlimited uses. The computer is even fitted with internet access, so no matter where you are in New Zealand or Tahiti, you can check out what the surf’s like at your private beach back home. For surround sound when watching movies there are two sets of component speakers, as well as a pair of 1500W subwoofers and Alpine amps all fitted into the small cab. When the exterior of the vehicle was painted, Andy sent the interior upholstery off to be retrimmed in a colour to match. Auto Meter gauges and a bunch of billet accessories also brightening up the interior. On the road the truck drives far better than it did in stock form, not to mention it’s a whole lot of fun with that much power at your disposal.
By the time you read this, it should be cruising the streets of Tahiti, where Boosie will no doubt be the new king of the road. Hell, with a truck this good, he should really be the king of the whole island! Where to from here? There’s always the chance of a big block finding its way into the engine bay, but for now, Boosie is happy cruising the streets, soaking up the sun and the looks.
Good thing he decided to keep the bench seat, as finding passengers keen on heading back to his private beach shouldn’t be a problem. Now that’s the life.
1985 GMC Pick-Up - Boosie
Occupation: Man of leisure
Why the Truck: Always liked pick-ups and will be taking it back to Tahiti
Build time: One year
Length of ownership: One year
Boosie Thanks: Etchells Race Partz Ltd for all the work; Andy and the team have a great one-stop shop. Phone 07 578 0042
Engine: 5735c (350ci) small block Chev, four-bolt block, H-beam rods, forged pistons, dual key crank and balancer, Edelbrock Performer RPM alloy heads, Lunati hydraulic cam, Mr Gasket air scoop, Holley Weiand 6-71 supercharger, two Holley 600cfm carbs, Holley HP150 electric fuel pump, Holley regulator, RCI fuel cell, stainless braided fuel lines, MSD billet distributor, MSD 6AL ignition, MSD leads, MSD coil, twin three-inch exhausts, Forza Flow mufflers, Afco radiator, Proform valve covers
Driveline: TH350 transmission, shift kitted, 2000rpm stall converter
Brakes: Stock disc/drum
Suspension: Four-link rear, tubular A-arms, airbags, two-inch drop spindles, digital controller
Wheels/Tyres: 20×10 and 20×12-inch Intro Twisted Vista wheels, 285/30 R20 and 325/25 R20 Michelin tyres
Exterior: Billet grille, LED taillights, chequer plate deck
Interior: Full re-trim, Billet Specialties steering wheel, billet shifter, billet gauge surround, Auto Meter gauges, Windows XP touch screen, Alpine head unit, Sony Xplod subwoofers, Alpine amplifiers, four 6-inch components
Performance: 335-375kW (approx 450-500hp)
Words: Todd Wylie Photos: Adam Croy