by Andrew Tanner
Car: 1993 GMC Sierra
Owner: Leighton Swearingen, Junior
If you were to venture out into the storage units at Mustang Properties just across Baer Street from the college, you would find a vast assortment of student-owned vehicles in varying states of repair. These cars range from fully restored, to fully disassembled. One vehicle has just finished being put back together after spending two years in a state of extreme disassembly, and that is Leighton Swearingen’s 1993 GMC Sierra. Swearingen arrived at McPherson College in the fall of 2015, and at that time his Sierra was his preferred and only method of transportation. A native of Topeka, KS, Swearingen has a special bond to his truck, as it was his first vehicle. He originally purchased the truck from a friend of his dad’s, who enjoyed watching the upgrades Swearingen made to the truck. Some time around New Year’s Day, 2015, the original 4.3-liter V6 engine seized up so he decided it was time to make a change. He opted to install a 5.3-liter GM LS V8 engine out of a newer truck and an NV4500 5-speed manual transmission. At the same time as he was making these modifications, he also decided to lower the truck three inches in the front and four inches in the rear. Swearingen decided that to complete the look, he needed different wheels, so he installed factory wheels off of a 1990s Chevrolet 454SS pickup. It was this configuration that many college friends have fond memories of Swearingen cruising around with. In March of 2016, Swearingen was visiting home in Topeka when he entered an intersection and collided with another vehicle that had run a red light. Though he wasn’t injured and it wasn’t a high-speed impact, serious damage was done to his beloved GMC. The frame was bent, hood and fender crushed, and the bed made contact with the cab. Now he is reassembling the truck into what he says is “the truck I always wanted.” Since the accident, Swearingen has put the cab and bed on a new frame, lowered it two more inches all the way around and completely rebuilt the suspension. He sold the 5.3 V8 and bought a 454 GM big block V8 to install instead. He hopes to have the 454 and the NV4500 transmission installed soon and to have the truck running by summer.