A Decadently Detailed Sonoma
People are attracted to the custom truck sport for all different sorts of reasons. Some are born with custom vehicles on the brain and automotive enthusiasm pumping through their veins. Others develop their interest by hanging around individuals who have already embraced this hobby to its fullest. It's the age-old story of whether the bug is inbred in you from birth or you catch it; when it grabs a hold of you, it bites real hard. Brandon McDonald of Lebanon, Tennessee, was blessed with a strong automotive influence at a young age because his father owned several street rods. Although Brandon had become accustomed to the street rodding community growing up, building a street rod-flavored, modern custom pickup appealed more to Brandon's taste. With that in mind, Brandon picked up a '94 GMC Sonoma and began to apply the street rod touch.
Brandon's 'bagged, shaved, and graphically enhanced mini began taking shape when he set out to drop the ride height. Aiming for a seriously hammered look, Brandon and his friend Jason Bullock installed 2-inch Belltech dropped spindles and Firestone 2,500-pound airbags up front to plant the nose down 7 inches. Setting the rear of Brandon's magnificent miniature down 9 inches on the Tennessee tarmac was made possible by Gabriel Air shocks. In order to tie the complete look together, Brandon opted for 18x8-inch Eagle billet wheels mounted on BFGoodrich 225/40ZR18 low-profile rubber. The conservative custom look of this wheel selection captures the mild street rod look beautifully. Once the stance was set and the billet rollers were mounted, Brandon began to focus his attention on smoothing and painting the exterior.
Blending tasteful body modifications with classy graphics is a difficult task within the custom truck scene. For most enthusiasts who do not have boundless budgets once the paint is laid, color-sanded, and rubbed, they are stuck with it. Brandon took extra care to make sure just the right blend of color was used on his mini, and the results are impressive, to say the least. Moving from front to back, the front end was enhanced by a 2000 GMC Envoy front bumper, a Godfather Customs billet grille insert, and a customized hood featuring a '69 Camaro cowl-induction hood skin grafted into the stock landscape. The back end reveals a shaved tailgate handle, a smoothed and molded steel roll pan, and a shaved third brake light. Smoked clear APC taillights and a CheckMate tonneau cover finish off the bed modifications. The factory antenna was also shaved to clean the front end of any factory annoyances.
Once the body modifications were completed and all the panels were straight as an arrow, Brandon had Jason Bullock of Whitehouse, Tennessee, lay down the base color and graphics. Opting to impress onlookers, Brandon chose to go with PPG Cosmic Green as the base color and highlighted it with PPG Get 'Em Green, Orange, Purple, Blue, and Silver graphics, which literally stand off the smoothed body. This unique graphic combination wraps around the whole truck, bringing character to every square inch of the its body and bed surfaces.
Having been raised around the street rodding scene, Brandon has a firm grip on the importance of meticulous detail, which is important when you plan on being competitive in shows. With that in mind, it comes as no surprise that the engine compartment of his truck is detailed to award-winning perfection. The factory four-cylinder was cleaned up with a polished cold air intake, a chrome valve cover, a chrome master cylinder, a chrome AC blower motor, a custom billet aluminum battery box cover, and a polished billet radiator shroud. The tops of the factory fenderwells were cut to allow more clearance for the 18-inch wheels and tires, while assorted components, bracketry, and various non-mechanical surfaces were coated in Cosmic Green to contrast their chromed surroundings.
During the photo shoot, Brandon announced to us that the truck was for sale and that he was planning to move on to another project. Since the truck's completion, Brandon has attended Hunters Custom Auto Expo, the Mini-Truckin' Nationals, Showfest, and Indy Truck Bash 2000, receiving several compliments and seal of approval smiles from other enthusiasts. We think it's great that Brandon has taken an alternative approach to typical mini-truck Euro restyling and built a truck that reflects timeless trends. Brandon would like to thank his wife Rachel, his father Vic, and his friend Jason Bullock for all of their help and support throughout the truck's buildup. The finished product is something a meticulous street rodder will appreciate.
Threads and Sounds
The inner confines of Brandon McDonald's Intensified Sonoma features a creative blend of gray tweed and vinyl sewn over a set of Saturn bucket seats. A custom center console, which flows between the bucket seats and back to the massive audio system, is covered in gray tweed and vinyl to mold seamlessly with its surroundings. The floorboards and the headliner were also given the tweed street rod feel with a boatload of the gray textured material above the head and below the foot. Adding spice to the impressive stitchwork is Cosmic Green painted dash panel pieces, a polished 14-inch Grant steering wheel, and miscellaneous billet accent pieces. The airbag gauge and switch controls are mounted cleanly in the custom center console, allowing for easy adjustability. Brandon and his father Vic completed all of the upholstery chores themselves. Inside entertainment is accomplished using a Sony CD player sending the audio signals to Orion 240 and 280 amplifiers and two 12-inch JL Audio subwoofers all enclosed in a sealed box behind the seat. Component speakers from MTX take care of mid- and high-range duties. One thing is for sure: When climbing into Brandon's mini, you are sure to enjoy the ride.