The Box Chevy certainly isn’t what it used to be.The model was originally produced by the millions for businessmen and families alike from 1977 to 1990, only to later devolve into a vehicle frowned upon by most of America as a bucket you cop on Craigslist for $800. However, it’s become glaringly apparent in the last year or so in RIDES, on Instagram and at car shows that the box Chevy—specifically, the two-door—has planted its flag on a new custom-car continent and doesn’t seem to be losing any ground.
For whatever reason, custom box Chevys are becoming exponentially more popular in the Midwest, so it’s to no surprise that a top-tier box build would originate in the region. However, to be built by a one-man operation in Des Moines, Iowa, certainly raises a few eyebrows. Marcus Anderson, owner of donkparts.com, brought his box to Trae Bruce, owner and operator of Xcluzive Autoworkz, roughly a year and a half ago with modest intentions of giving the previously customized ride a refresh. “He just wanted to finish what the other guy didn’t do,” says Trae. “He started off wanting to do an LS swap, and it spiraled from there.” A meager build evolving into a much larger project certainly is a common theme in the custom-car world, but the lengths to which this particular project progressed is certainly compelling.
Beginning with a 6.0-liter motor out of a Yukon Denali, the performance portion of the build became amplified from the jump. “He started seeing these Donks with turbos and got the idea to add one…and then two,” explains Trae. “And of course the motor had to be built to handle that.” Trae had the motor stroked and bored as much as it possibly could be, ultimately ending up with a 6.8-liter 421 stroker producing an estimated 1,000hp with the help of the turbos and other upgrades. At this point in the build, it only made sense to apply the same attention to the rest of the vehicle, so Trae convinced Marcus to go full frame-off. “I figured if you spend 40 grand on the twin-turbo setup, we might as well go all the way,” proclaims Trae. From there Trae separated the body from the frame and started replacing everything—literally. “I wanted everything to be brand-new,” says Trae. “Every nut and bolt is brand-new, all the brake lines, fuel lines, everything.”
In addition to the small details, a full suspension overhaul was also conducted, gutting all the old components for a slew of new equipment such as Speedtech tubular upper and lower controls arms, UMI upper and lower adjustable rear trailing arms and Viking fully adjustable coilovers. In addition to the massive overhaul on the drive train and chassis, the rest of the ride was treated to a nice dose of custom and class. The body was coated in House of Kolor Shimrin2 Ocean Blue and a set of staggered 26-inch Forgiato wheels, with the accompanying grille and steering wheel added to boot.
Spec the Technique
• Performance: 421 stroker LSX built with fully forged rotating assembly; March billet serpentine setup with A/C; polished LS3 heads; Katech cam; MSD street fire coils; Precision Turbo 66mm turbos with full custom stainless piping; TiAL Sport wastegates’ blow-off valve, front-mount intercooler, 1,340cc injectors, electric pump/pump setup; Holley fuel rails; 3-inch stainless exhaust with electric cutouts; Borla exhaust; 4L80E transmission; Moser Engineering 9-inch rear end; Wilwood brakes; six-piston with 14-inch rotors front, four-piston with 12-inch rotors rear, master cylinder; stainless braided fuel and oil lines; custom hard-lined coolant lines; aluminum radiator with custom radiator support cover; AGR Performance billet close ratio steering box
• Exterior: Full frame-off restoration; powder-coated frame; House of Kolor Shimrin2 Ocean Blue; Forgiato grille; shaved locks; LED sequential taillights; HIDs; LED daytime running bumper lights with switch-back signals
• Interior: Tan leather and suede interior; custom center console, floor shifter and bucket seats; custom ported rear deck with third brake light; Forgiato Inferno steering wheel; billet steering column; fully sound-deadened with Stinger RoadKill
• ICE: iPad-controlled audio; DB Drive components, A6-2800.1D amps, 400.4 amp; Kicker 15-inch L7 subwoofers in custom fourth order box vented in car through rear deck; Stinger secondary battery, wiring; Dakota Digital gauges; AEM Electronics Tru-Boost controller/gauge, wideband/gauge; LCD tire-pressure monitoring system; push-to-start setup with lighted logos in Plexiglass
• Wheels/Tires: 26-inch Forgiato Infernos, staggered 26×9 front, 26×10 rear, with color matched accents; Lexani tires, 275/25/26
• Suspension: Speedtech Performance tubular upper and lower control arms; UMI Performance upper and lower adjustable rear trailing arms; Viking Performance fully adjustable coilovers; BMR Suspension front and rear sway bars; Energy Suspension bushings