Home » I Drove A 250,000 Mile GMC Yukon With Mad Mike From ‘Pimp My Ride’ And It Was Both Terrible And Amazing

I Drove A 250,000 Mile GMC Yukon With Mad Mike From ‘Pimp My Ride’ And It Was Both Terrible And Amazing

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You know GM’s GMT400 platform even if you don’t think you know it. It underpinned millions of GM trucks and SUVs for the entirety of the 1990s to the point where, if you stood anywhere near an American road at the turn of the millennium, the chance that there was a GMT400 within sight was 87.3 percent according to a study I’m making up right now. But now it’s been 20 years, and you may be wondering how well these once-ubiquitous trucks held up. Well, I just drove a 250,000 mile model that someone traded in to Galpin Ford, and it was a steaming pile with a heart of gold. Here, watch me review this trade-in with Mad Mike of Pimp My Ride fame, and you’ll understand what I mean.

First things first: Allow me to introduce Mad Mike, the legendary technician whom we all know and love from Pimp My Ride, but who also starred in Car Kings and who now works at Galpin Auto Sports.

Vidframe Min Top
Vidframe Min Bottom

Actually, first things first: Watch this week’s episode of Trade-In-Tuesday:

OK, now back to Mad Mike. If you’ve somehow suffered an injury to the cranium and forgotten about Mad Mike, here’s a reminder of his genius:


Anyway, since you’re watching video reminders, now that you’ve gotten to know my sometimes-co-host all over again, allow this legendary commercial to bring you back to when the GMT400 reigned supreme:

That’s right, the GMT400 was that “Like A Rock” Chevy pickup that made its way into your and my and, frankly, collective consciousness — probably permanently.

It may seem hard to believe, but when it debuted for 1988, it was considered a “softening” of an otherwise simple/work-oriented trucks. It featured an interior that Chevy billed as “the most comfortable Chevy Pickup interior ever,” which means it bathed you in an ocean of hard plastic:


1988 Chevrolet Full Size Pickup Brochure (rev) 16 17

Another thing that may be hard to believe is that the GMT400 — known lovingly as the “OBS” or “Old Body Style” Chevy — was in some ways thought of as a smoother, more aerodynamic pickup than Chevys of yore:

1988 Chevrolet Full Size Pickup Brochure (rev) 08 09

Up front was a coil-sprung or torsion-bar independent front suspension, while in the back there was a leaf-sprung solid axle.

1988 Chevrolet Full Size Pickup Brochure (rev) 03 04 05 06


1988 Chevrolet Full Size Pickup Brochure (rev) 24 25

The GMC Yukon was basically the same as the Chevy Tahoe, but of course, GMC focused on luxury. Just look at how this brochure talks about “glove-soft leather” and electrically-actuated “shift-on-the-fly four-wheel drive”:

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The Yukon that Mad Mike and I drove was sadly not the two-door, but rather the four-door. Really, the 250,000 mile Yukon was a 3.5-door, because one of the doors was thoroughly sagging to the point that the door’s latch didn’t line up with the striker on the B-pillar.

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Speaking of doors, I love the Yukon’s rear barn doors, but only the right one seemed to open:

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The black paint was severely faded from the California sun, with the hood now white and the roof now rust-brown. Also apparent when looking at the vehicle from the side: It seemed to sit quite low:

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Under the hood, a shoestring held the 5.7-liter Chevy 350’s intake onto its throttle body, and only now am I realizing that I totally blew the opportunity to make a “shoestring budget” joke in that video above:


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Someone had wrapped a nasty towel around the brake master cylinder, and yes, that’s because it leaks, which is quite dangerous.

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I also noticed that the oil was a bit low:

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Inside, there was trash and a burlap blanket in the rear, but the seats were quite nice. Up front, things got strange, and not just because the driver’s seat was wrapped in a T-shirt and the headliner was falling:

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First, the seats were absolutely chewed up:

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But more importantly, look at what’s on the floor:

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Astro turf floor mats! It’s genius! Or maybe it’s not, but I appreciate the wackiness!

Once in the driver’s seat, I turned the key and nothing happened.

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So I grabbed the jump starter that’s pretty much permanently sitting in the Galpin Used Car lot, and…

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It fired right up! Actually, the 350 sounded awesome, though as you may be able to surmise by my less-than-amused expression in the picture below, it wasn’t perfect — I had to keep my foot on the gas to keep the engine from shutting off:

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Having driven junkers before, I was used to the whole “can’t let off the pedal or the car will die” situation, and was able to limp the thing — while holding the driver’s door closed — over to my new sometimes-co-host, Mad Mike, who made this expression upon first seeing this steaming pile:


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Here Mike is showing me that the vehicle’s lock has probably been “popped” at some point based on the damaged key hole:

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Here Mike is explaining the speakers in the back:

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Mike grabbed some brake fluid to top off that leaky master cylinder:

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And here’s the look he made when I hit the gas pedal on a nice, straight stretch of road. That old Chevy V8 legitimately pulled, and it sounded good! “This thing’s got balls!” Mike says in the video.

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Honestly, as beat up as that Yukon was, the powertrain was absolute magic. The only thing better was what happened when we hit a speed-bump at speed:


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The thing just soaked it up! Like, remarkably!

I do think there may have been a bad engine mount, because there was some serious clunking happening when we came to a stop, as Mike’s face indicates:

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During our drive, we found this stripped-out car on the side of the road near Van Nuys:


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For some reason, Mike felt like trying to convince this Corvette owner that we wanted to race (the owner didn’t bite):

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In the end, Mad Mike taught me about the “Corn Horn,” which is a horn that sellers of Crema-covered corn-on-the-cob play to lure in customers. Mike even bought me a corn, and it was life-changingly delicious!


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Watch our YouTube video at the top of this article to see the whole episode of us driving a vehicle that somehow has an amazing powertrain and suspension, but terrible everything else. The episode includes Mad Mike teaching me about what he calls “Afro American Ingenuity,” among other things. Honestly, I think I’m going to learn a lot from Mike.

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1 month ago

DT with the “what’s this little spoon for!?!”

Mr Sarcastic
Mr Sarcastic
1 month ago
Reply to  3WiperB

Down on the ground cocaine. Ride the white horse.

Angry Shawn
Angry Shawn
1 month ago

Add me to the list of villagers clamoring for more of the “The hoopty adventures of Mad Mike and David”

Lew Schiller
Lew Schiller
1 month ago

I daily a 2002 Yukon Barn Door 4 Door. Aside from the paint falling off of it it’s swell. While I like the barn doors the center divide is problematic in the mirror.

One More Last Chance
One More Last Chance
1 month ago

I’ve owned a GMT400 and a GMT800. Currently looking for a GMT900. Love them. I did watch the video and thoroughly enjoyed it. However, several times in the video you refer to the Yukon as a truck. Based upon Torch’s article These Are The Rules The Rules That Make a Truck a Truck, the Yukon is not a truck. It is an SUV. Just saying.

1 month ago

I had a 94 2 door, and it was absolute bliss. Along with an 88 2500 six-lug, and a 91 Silverado. I regret selling them all. Something about these trucks just captivates me. The satisfying solid feel of the door handles, that door buzzer, the smell of early 90s plastic and cloth hitting your nose, the sound of that classic chevy starter motor going “Cha-shi-SHISHISHIS-VROOM” get’s me every time.

I have a GMT400 in the fleet now, a 96 extended cab shortbed with 296,000 miles on the tired old 305. I have no use for it. It’s too hard on gas to drive to work with. It doesnt have enough power to tow. I refuse to dent it up by throwing firewood in the bed. It exists as a fully functional yard ornament. I could probably get a good few thousand out of it.

But I just cant bring myself to sell it. I literally just like to look at it. Knowing I have one is worth more than money to me. I’m a Jeep guy ’till death, but these trucks bow to no one.

Last edited 1 month ago by H4llelujah
1 month ago
Reply to  H4llelujah

Heh I hate the door buzzer in my 95. Thankfully GM made the buzzer a big ol’ box that just plugs into the fuse panel under the dash.

1 month ago

David, there are places where you could walk in and say “Gimme my usual.” Bit they’re not gonna hand you a plate of food. They’re gonna hand you whatever ZJ or XJ parts just came in.

1 month ago

Seeing GMT400 Tahoes in this condition makes me realize mine is still REALLY nice. They really are some of the best trucks ever, though.

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