Meet The Blue Bruiser, a 93' GMC Sonoma with an LS Heart

By: Holley | 07/28/2021 < Back to Motor Life Home

Holley CEO, Tom Tomlinson, is no stranger to performance vehicles, and his clean, low-mile, LS-swapped '93 Sonoma is an ultimate weekend bruiser! Utilizing Hooker BlackHeart's LS Swap system for the S10/Sonoma, an LS3 crate engine and T56 magnum transmission were stuffed into the small chassis, and the extra attention-to-detail makes this truck look as nice as any factory build. 

Inside the truck, the only clue to its performance potential is an extra digit on the classic Hurst white shift ball.

“I found this truck quite a few years ago on eBay," Tomlinson recalls. A guy in Indiana had listed it, but it came from Arkansas. He bought the truck to daily drive it but described it as "too nice for a daily driver." My son and I drove up to Indiana to pick it up, and it was really nice. It had a 2.8L V6 and 5 speed manual and was painfully slow. It was super clean, though, and everything worked including the A/C. The drive home to Kentucky was uneventful,” Tom says. The paint is original and because the original owner kept a seat cover on for most of the truck’s life, the interior is nearly immaculate as well.

Yanking out the anemic 2.8L and T5 transmission provided plenty of room to play with his new LS engine. Using Hooker Blackheart engine mounts, the LS3 slipped into place with its massive 1-7/8” tube mid-length headers but did require a new steering shaft (which provides a ton of room when compared with OEM). Tom wanted to retain the A/C, so a new tucked evaporator side cover was designed with plenty of clearance for the larger engine.

The T56 Magnum was bolted in behind the LS3 and held into place with a new crossmember. The shifter did require trimming the floor pan back an inch around the shifter hole. A Hurst Blackjack shifter for 78-88 G-bodies provided a nice upgrade while sticking with the restomod theme. A hydraulic clutch assembly insured that gear changes were butter smooth.

Under the hood is a Hi-mount accessory drive system, a Frostbite LS swap radiator (to allow for cleaner hose routing) paired with a set of electric fans. The factory fuel tank was used with a 255LPH pump inside the stock hangar to supply the required fuel to the newer engine.

Tomlinson didn't stop there; Many chassis and suspension upgrades were performed including full ZQ8 sway bars, Blazer front 2-piston calipers, as well as Calvert Racing springs and traction bars. Ditching the factory box, a custom Lee Power Steering unit handles the 18x8” front wheels and provides a nice light feel. An 8.5” GM 10-bolt rear-end with 30-spline axles, and aftermarket locker help handle transfer all of that power to the ground.

A complete 3” exhaust system was designed to maintain an OEM look and feel, narrowing into a single tailpipe while leaving a ton of space for the aftermarket suspension. A Hooker stainless muffler produces a mellow tone at cruising speeds yet provides plenty of grunt for those “spirited driving moments.”

Holley’s Dominator EFI is used to control the LS3's drive-by-wire throttle body, as well as all of the fueling and ignition requirements. Other tricks include tying the T56 VSS and reverse lock out solenoid into the ECU and outputting it to the factory gauges.

It is easy to appreciate the simplicity and lack of over-the-top modifications which enabled him to build a tasteful, yet very quick little pickup. “In the past I've sometimes gone too big (tires, gears, cam, etc.). This truck was built with a little restraint and although it's super quick, it is an absolute joy to drive.” Restraint or not, this mini-truck is a definite head-turner and will fit in at any track day or racing event!

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