Orange Dream: Travis Dodd’s 2016 GMC Sierra 2500 Denali HD

These days, it helps to have a souped up truck. It gets you more attention, opens up doors you might have thought were shut, and nabs all the likes and comments you can handle on social media. For Travis Dodd, owner and founder of the largest truck-focused Instagram page, Nasty Trucks Nation, a truck is all of these things and more.

Travis took a great deal of pride while building up his 2016 GMC Sierra 2500 Denali HD, and made every possible effort to get it done the way he wanted. To say that the result is great is an understatement.

We found out about Travis and his GMC from the aforementioned app. His truck was shared on a page called trucks_b4_after and instantly caught our attention. It was only then that we realized we were dealing with a big fish in the social media pond, and we reached out to Travis to get the full picture.

Background of the Build

Travis’ vision for his truck was to have it be stunning and amazing, even among the competition at the annual SEMA Show.

Travis’ history with trucks started with his childhood in Tennessee. “My mom bought trucks and she got me into them as a kid,” he explained. “She owned a big ole Chevy, and ever since, I’ve had a huge passion for trucks.”

When he was 21 years old, Travis was on his third truck, a Duramax, and was quickly learning the ropes of social media. He began to see how things like Instagram could be used to attain fame and attention. “Someone gave me a page that they had started, and it had only 200 followers on it,” said Travis. “He said I had a nice truck and essentially let me have his page for free. He said I could build it up or do whatever I wanted with it, and I said, ‘Yeah, sure.'”

In 2010, when he was 17, Travis started getting into the diesel culture and lifestyle. Five years later, he was handed the keys to an Instagram page with only 200 followers. He slowly but surely grew the page into something incredible.

Soon enough, managing the page and working on his truck were hand-in-hand hobbies. Travis attended SEMA for the first time in 2014, having been sponsored by Cognito Motorsports. “I loved being out there and mingling with other truck enthusiasts,” commented Travis. “It was insane. I told myself I was going to have a truck at SEMA the next year, and that’s what inspired me to get going on this build.”

The Build Begins

From the outset, Travis knew he wanted a truck he could be proud of. “I wanted to express my passion for trucks and make a vehicle that stood out,” he said. “It had to be a game-changer.”

To that end, Travis had his Denali become the first ever (of that generation) done with front and rear air ride suspension. This also happens to be his favorite aspect of the build. “It’s so different, and not a lot of people have it,” he commented. “Being able to raise and lower the truck at will is pretty sweet.”

From start to finish, Travis spent about nine months watching and waiting as his truck was worked on. He had to have it ready for the 2016 SEMA Show, and thankfully, he had it done with less than two weeks to spare.

Travis started his 2500 by taking care of what most of us do – the height. “I did the lift kit first, and then took care of the wheels and tires,” he said. “Then I did the exterior, which took me through changing out the bumpers, the hood, the tonneau cover, and then the headlights and taillights. I waited until the end to do the wrap, and did the stereo upgrade just before that.”

The Truck As It Stands Today

The outside of Travis’ GMC is where it shines the brightest. Covered in a matte orange wrap courtesy of Suncoast Wraps, the rig looks like a glass of orange juice infused with Cheetos. It also helps that the suspension components match the color, too. “I thought it was going to be too much orange, but it turned out pretty sweet, in my opinion,” commented Travis.

Bolstering the exterior’s appearance is a Royalty Core grille and RK Sport hood. The bumpers, meanwhile, are Backwoods units. The front holds OffroadLEDBars lighting, including a 20-inch light bar and four pod lights, with two on either side. Speaking of lighting, Travis had the stock headlights and taillights swapped out for custom painted units from Plain An Simple.

The matte orange wrap on the truck was courtesy of Suncoast Wraps. It's matched by powder coated orange suspension underneath, which was provided by Ultimate Air Ride. Also, note the four massive train horns, made by Hornblasters. This is one truck that can really bring the noise.

Tucked up under the truck, we see again the custom powder coated suspension components, provided by Ultimate Air Ride. These consist of a four-linked rearend and front end, giving the truck a more desirable ride on the road. AccuAir e-Level air management lets Travis dip or raise the truck at will, and he has four 5-gallon air tanks providing a constant supply of air pressure.

Also tucked away here are four HornBlasters S4 horns. This way, if the custom stereo (more on that later) blasting tunes is not grabbing the attention of those around him, Travis can always let the horns rip and wake up birds within a two-mile radius.

To assist in ingress and egress from the pickup, AMP Research power boards extend and retract. They do so automatically when the doors are opened and closed, respectively.

Armed with all manner of Crescendo tweeters, speakers, and amplifiers, Travis can turn his truck into a rolling rock concert on the streets of his hometown in Sarasota, Florida.

For shock absorbers, Travis went with FOA polished units. He has two shocks on each corner, providing stability when things get bumpy.

The engine and drivetrain are mostly what you would expect. The 6.6-liter LML Duramax has very little in the way of modifcations. It has stock exhaust manifolds, leading to a five-inch downpipe-back straight pipe with a hex tip painted gloss black. The DPF has been deleted, and an S&B cold air intake gives a little something extra to the motor in terms of horsepower and torque.

Bolstering the dashboard is Edge tuning and accessory switches right at Travis' fingertips. Here, he can control the tune levels of his truck, monitor its vitals, activate the AccuAir air management system, blast the train horns, and more.

The rear axle is stock, while the front axle was swapped with a Dana 60, as that was the only way Travis could get the Ultimate Air Ride kit installed. Both axles run on a 3.88:1 gear ratio and are painted gloss black, and the rear axle has a G2 differential cover. At the ends of these axles, a set of killer 24×16 American Force Royal wheels (with custom-painted and pinstriped faceplates) are wrapped in 40×15.5R24 Toyo Open Country M/Ts.

That does it for the outside. Inside, Travis can bask in truck command post heaven. Here, he has a navigation head unit, as well as a stereo practically built for a concert hall. It starts with three Crescendo Mezzo SQ2 6.5-inch speakers, and is supplemented with a number of tweeters and large amplifiers that make any music playing in Travis’ truck audible across county lines. Other features of the interior are custom black leather on the seats, an sPOD switch panel, and Epicenter Designs custom door panels.

Suspension on Travis' GMC can raise and lower between 3-15 inches, and has independent control for the front and back. What's more, Travis tells us it was the first of its kind in the entire country when it was installed. Polished FOA reservoir shock absorbers let the truck ride nicely through the bumpy stuff, and lights from Offroad LED Bars give Travis the ability to see anywhere in front, behind, and underneath. Suffice it to say, no stone was left unturned when it came to improving this build.

All in all, Travis’ 2500 is one shining example of what a guy can do when he has a vision – and a few hundred thousand followers. The way that he was able to secure sponsorships and promote the passion of diesel trucks is something we can all get behind. To see more, check out the man’s Instagram page.

Photography by Kyle Evers

About the author

David Chick

David Chick comes to us ready for adventure. With passions that span clean and fast Corvettes all the way to down and dirty off-road vehicles (just ask him about his dream Jurassic Park Explorer), David's eclectic tastes lend well to his multiple automotive writing passions.
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