An Extra-Flammable Sierra
Creating a custom pickup from a stock bare-bones hauler is an art form. Taking a blank metal truck canvas and painting one's own interpretation of how it should sit along with what colors and graphic patterns will enhance its outer skin is a matter of skill and vision. Many dream up these low-slung and pavement-hugging pickups in their heads and have neither the time nor the money to transfer them from their domes to the pavement. It definitely takes patience, vision, and greenbacks to create a stunning custom pickup.
Judd Lene of Colton, California is one young man who successfully turned a custom truck dream into a flamed and shining reality in the form of a '99 GMC Sierra we like to call Heat Seeker. Judd is a detail-oriented individual. As you can tell from the photos that grace the next several pages, no stone has been left unturned on this wicked ride. The pride he takes in his creation is evident in its presentation, inside, outside, and underneath. Not one to follow the crowd by building an extended-cab version of GM's '99-and-later body style pickup, Judd opted for a standard-cab version to embrace a bit of diversity.
When building an eye-catching custom truck and seeking the thumbs-up seal of approval from onlookers at a show or on the street, the stance is a key ingredient. To bring Heat Seeker down to a more respectable altitude, Judd turned to Sean Thurman and the suspension professionals at Suspension Dimension in Grand Terrace, California. Heat Seeker had previously been lowered, so the necessary steel components were already in place to enable Sean to fabricate an airbag system to get the truck laid out flat on the ground.
After a shipment from Max Spring in Highland, California, arrived at Suspension Dimension containing airbags, two air tanks, two compressors, and air valves, Sean put Heat Seeker up on the lift and started undercarriage surgery. Under the flame-engulfed nose, Sean installed Contitech 2600 airbags into the factory spring pockets and mounted up a set of Doetsch Tech shocks to cushion the ride. Those combined with the existing DJM lower control arms allowed the front framerails to successfully make their way toward the tarmac.
Moving rearward, things got a bit more complicated. Knowing how far Judd planned to go with this truck and that it would probably find its way into the limelight of the custom truck scene, Sean stepped things up a notch when it came time to perform the rear suspension alterations. With the bed standing up in the corner of the shop and the rear portion of the chassis exposed, Sean fabricated a full custom rear subframe for Heat Seeker to prepare for one of the most intense suspension setups we have ever laid eyes on.
After performing an extra-tall step notch on the new rear 'rails, Sean and his crew built and installed a full reverse six-link cantilever suspension setup. A pair of Contitech 2600 'bags were incorporated into the suspension setup to lift and lower the truck's rear section at the tap of a few switches. Plumbing for the air bellows includes two Viair 400 compressors, two 5-gallon air tanks, 1/2-inch ODE solenoids, and 1/2-inch air line, all put to work by a chrome switch box in the cab with ten toggles ready for active duty.
After Sean and the Suspension Dimension crew finished performing their meticulous work on Heat Seeker's chassis and suspension, a call was made to Boyd Coddington, Jr. of Boyd Coddington Wheels to order up some extra large billet wheels to set off the truck's frame-punishing stance. Wanting a true street rod look on a contemporary custom hauler, Judd knew chrome Euro wheels just wouldn't look right. After deliberating with Boyd, Jr. about which wheels in his extensive line would best capture the look he was going for, Judd opted for the new Turbine style to tuck neatly under the front and rear fenders. Supporting the nose are 20x8-inch Boyd Coddington Turbines, while the rear wears 22x10-inch versions of this aggressive wheel. Protecting the hoops from bends and dings are Nitto rubber bands measuring P255/35ZR20 front and P285/35ZR22 rear.
After the frame successfully touched the asphalt and the attractive wheel and tire package was in place, Judd felt it was necessary to mildly enhance the performance of the factory 5.3L engine.
Underneath the hood of Heat Seeker rests the original 5.3L V-8 improved in the power department by a K&N fuel-injection performance kit and Hypertech performance chip and power programmer. For a little more rumble when the ignition is cranked, a Flowmaster muffler with 3-inch pipe was installed by Arrow Muffler in Fontana, California. To enhance show appeal, a few underhood components have been removed and painted for contrast. Completion of the engine modifications led Judd to the next step: analyzing the body alterations and paint scheme he wanted to grace the exterior.
Certain modifications can either make or break your hauler's finished looks. One such modification is custom paint schemes. If there is too much going on in regard to colors and patterns, the smooth side panels of any given hauler can get a little busy. Judd wanted a paint treatment that was at first glance aggressive, but echoed that with a strong element of class.
To accurately capture his wishes, Judd turned to JBC Customs in Colton, California, to smooth Heat Seeker's factory metal and brighten it with bold colors. The pros at JBC massaged the truck's skin by shaving the door handles, cab seams, taillights, gas door, stake pockets, and tailgate handle. The third brake light was modified on the back of the cab and a Sir Michaels roll pan was welded seamlessly in place underneath the smooth tailgate.
Custom LED taillights were mounted in between the tailgate and roll pan to be out of sight when not in use. After Jobe and Kane Jimenez at JBC finished welding, grinding, and smoothing the truck's exterior to a baby's backside quality, Jobe loaded up his paint gun, rolled the raw metal canvas into his spray booth, and began to apply the deep House of Kolor Kandy Apple Red base color with gold flake. Once Jobe took the last pass with the base color, the truck was left to sit and dry for a few days while the Jimenez brothers drafted up a set of hot licks to blaze over the impressive Kandy Apple Red backdrop.
Once the pattern and colors were chosen, Jobe laid out the flowing flame lick patterns on the truck and mixed up the House of Kolor Spanish Gold Pearl liquid and made the flames come to life. After the hot licks were applied, they were shadowed in black and silver and outlined with orange pinstriping. For a little extra flavor, Jobe airbrushed skeletons emerging out of burning flames on the hood and tailgate. The exterior was finished off with a Trenz billet grille insert and APC clear corner markers.
Once the paint was complete, Judd delivered the truck to Pro One Car Audio in Rancho Cucamonga, California, to receive an ear-blistering ensemble of high-quality audio goods. Enhancing the cruising experience in any custom show hauler with a take-no-prisoners sound system is a must. To kick the decibel levels up inside Heat Seeker, the folks at Pro One Car Audio in Rancho Cucamonga, California, filled the cab with a collection of aftermarket sound performance products to please the eardrums. Receiving Judd's favorite compact discs is an Alpine head unit backed by an Audio Control equalizer, Punch 300x and 500x Rockford Fosgate amplifiers, two 12-inch Kicker Comp VR subwoofers mounted behind the seat, and MB Quart PSD 216 6-1/2-inch midrange speakers mounted in each door.
Overhead in the headliner, a custom enclosure was built to house two Nesa 5.8-inch monitors for driver and passenger viewing entertainment. Also on board is a PlayStation 2 unit for those privileged passengers with a video game addiction. With a kick-tail sound system in place, it was time to finish the truck off with an off-the-hook custom interior.
Creating stunning stitchwork inside the confines of Heat Seeker was Stitchcraft Custom Interiors in Huntington Beach, California. Steve "Revo" Reeves and his talented sewing crew laid down some of the most insane digs we have seen in a while using bright colors and trick flame patterns. The seats were covered in black, red, and yellow suede with yellow suede flames singing up the backrest portion. An attractive custom headliner was made using red suede with yellow suede flames stitched over the top.
Revo covered the floor with black carpet and made a custom console pad covered in black suede. The door panels received quite a bit of custom work, as Revo reshaped and angled the speaker pods upwards and eliminated the factory map pocket at the bottom. Black suede was used to cover the door panel insert at the top, while the rest of the panel surfaces were smoothed and coated in the truck's exterior base hue by Jobe at JBC Customs. The dash was also smoothed and covered in House of Kolor Kandy Apple Red to match the exterior. Filling in the blanks inside Heat Seeker is a Trenz billet dash kit, Trenz billet flamed pedal kit, and a Trenz flame-shaped rearview mirror.
Judd Lene is a fortunate enthusiast who had the vision and drive to make his custom truck dream a pavement-shredding reality. He is quick to mention that Heat Seeker would not exist without the help of Jobe and Kane Jimenez at JBC Custom Paint, Sean Thurman at Suspension Dimension, Boyd Coddington, Jr. at Boyd Coddington Wheels, Steve "Revo" Reeves at Stitchcraft Custom Interiors, Carlos at Pro One Car Audio, the folks from Rhino Linings of Rancho Cucamonga, California and Trenz Manufacturing of Bakersfield, California.
Special thanks also goes out to friends Suzee and Paul and his father Jim Lene, who passed away last May and to whose memory this stunning truck is dedicated. Since the truck's debut, it has won many awards and received several compliments. 'Bagged on big wheels, splashed with a retina-burning paint scheme, and equipped with detail on every surface, it's easy to see why. We bet Jim Lene is more proud than ever of his son and his rolling accomplishment. We can only hope more custom truck enthusiasts turn their dreams and visions into trucks as detailed and well-built as Heat Seeker.