Grayson Elliott is an 18 year-old college student working at a Valvoline instant oil change shop near Forth Worth, Texas. He’s also a diehard fan of 1999 to 2006 Chevy Silverados and GMC Sierras — trucks built on the beloved “GMT800" platform. On Saturday Elliott spotted a beautiful GMT800 that had a broken tailgate handle bezel, so the young technician fixed it on the spot. For free.
This is a nice story making the rounds on Facebook, and something that I’ll share for two reasons: First, it’s a pleasant tale that might improve someone’s day. Second and most importantly, I have strong opinions about GMT800 tailgate handle bezels (You may recall that I wrote a few years back the story Tons Of Chevrolet Silverados Are Missing Their Tailgate Handle Bezels And It’s Driving Me Nuts).
“The mint LBZ deserved it” reads the caption that Elliott wrote Saturday on the Facebook group “GMT800s with Threatening Auras” — a silly group for fans of the legendary General Motors truck platform (the “LBZ” references the engine code for the most desirable 6.6-liter Duramax diesel engine offered in only 2006 and 2007 GMT800 models).
I got in touch with the young truck fan, and he immediately began our conversation by gushing about his love for this era of GM pickups. “I am an avid GMT800 lover and a firm believer they are the last modern trucks built to last. I’ve owned a few of them in my life, and my 03 is my latest,” the wrencher told me, sharing a photo of his machine:
“I’ve grown up around these trucks on my father’s used car lot,” he continued, “and I’ve seen just how tough, reliable and all around great they are. They’re my all time favorite pickup truck.”
I inquired about Elliott’s claim that the GMT800 platform is the last Chevy pickup “built to last,” and here’s what the clearly-smitten truck fan told me:
The generation after (GMT900s, 07-13) are plagued with issues mostly relating to the [active fuel management] cylinder deactivation they have, as well as generally all around cheaper materials and build quality. I feel that they lost their “soul” when the last GMT800 rolled off of the line. The next gen, the K2XX 2014-2018/19s are plagued with transmission issues as well as lifter issues, just like the previous gen, as well as electrical issues that they commonly have.
At least, In all of my experience working on, and being around trucks my whole life that’s what I’ve seen. The GMT800s hold up stronger and much longer than any truck from their generation, and most trucks that came after as well, dare I say: “They don’t make em like they used to!”
As for his act of kindness on Saturday, Elliott said he was on his way back to the Valvoline oil change shop from the car parts store, where he was picking up an oil filter. “It happened right by my work in Keller,” Elliott described. “There’s a senior assistance home next door and the truck was in the visitor lot. I was picking up an oil filter for a car we had in the bay that we had run out of stock of!”
“I always have a few spare trims on me, as it’s very common for them to fall off, and it’s kind of my little sign of love from one GMT800 owner to the next,” Elliott said about why he fixed the random truck in the senior assistance home visitor lot. “This specific truck was an extremely clean LBZ Duramax, and I was on my way back from picking up some parts from lunch. Took a shortcut through a parking lot and spotted it, so I stopped, wrote the little note you see on a piece of an oil filter box, and popped the trim on the truck for the driver.”
Elliott, who buys these bezels in bulk, says the part was only $3 or so. Still, it’s a nice gesture from someone truly passionate about the GMT800 platform. As someone who’s obsessed with a certain vehicle platform (Jeep XJ/ZJ), I have to admit that I’m a huge fan of Elliott’s palpable enthusiasm for this pickup.
The young mechanic who grew up wrenching on cars with his dad at a dealership says he’s in college working on getting certifications to become an aircraft mechanic. I wish him well, just as he wishes well beautiful but damaged GM tailgates hanging off the beds of Fort Worth, Texas’s GMT800 pickups.