A Sliced & Diced Six-Wheel Wonder
Some trends within the custom truck scene come and go, while others remain long-standing. For example, billet wheels and flame paintjobs are two elements of customizing that have been around forever and we don't expect to see them fade anytime soon. On the other hand, the grid graphics and Bow Tie murals of the '80s will not likely re-emerge and take the customizing public by storm once more. The same goes for the trucks used for their execution.
The '88-'98 Chevy and GMC pickups have been the driving force of the custom sport truck industry ever since they went on sale in 1988, and enthusiasts started slapping on roll pans and bumper covers and color-matching everything in sight. The 4/6 drop and Boyd Coddington wheel combination was sweeping the nation back then, and there seemed to be no end in sight until air suspension became popular and wheel companies began to build wheels in excess of 17 inches in size.
One truck in particular that was a prominent subject among sport truck fanatics with several custom examples displayed at shows all over California is the '88-'00 Chevy Crew Cab dualie. Not only were the old dualies built as show trucks, but many of them did duty on the weekends pulling hot rod boats to summer hot spots all over Arizona. These days, the dualie has taken a back seat to Chevy's HD pickup, and many of the custom examples on the road are worn-out old show trucks that have been through several owners and have seen better days.
Joe Brown of Lafayette, Louisiana, is one enthusiast who still believes there is nothing cooler than a long and low dualie with the right stance and attitude. As a veteran custom vehicle builder, and owner and operator of both Acadiana Transmission and Acadiana Collision Center in Lafayette, Joe definitely has his hands full. Back in January of 2001, Joe found a '97 Chevy Crew Cab 3/4-ton pickup with a single-wheel configuration and the craziness to create the gorgeous yellow cruiser displayed across these pages began.
His beat-down and tired shop truck just so happened to be a standard cab dualie with the desirable suspension needed to build the dualie of his dreams. Immediately, the suspension was removed from the dualie and mounted onto the 3/4-ton Crew Cab chassis. After the suspension was successfully swapped, it was time to address the slammed part of Joe's custom equation and get this extra-long Bow Tie on the ground.
Hammering the nose 8 inches was accomplished by installing 3-inch Belltech drop spindles and Firestone airbags from Air Ride Technologies coupled with KYB shocks. The rear of this bright-yellow heavy hauler was cinched down to the tune of 12 pavement-pounding inches, using an Air Ride Technologies Air Bar parallel four-link teamed with Firestone airbags and KYB shocks. The rear framerails were given a healthy C-section to allow the back axle to go as high up as possible when the rear 'bags are robbed of their air supply.
Shuffling air around when Joe gets trigger-happy on the switches are 3/8 valves, i-inch air line, one 5-gallon air tank, and two VIAIR 400 compressors. Inside the cab, flush-mounted in the custom console is a four-way switch control panel from Air Ride Technologies, complete with two gauges for monitoring air activity. After Joe finished getting the 'rails flush with the Louisiana roadways, the chassis and suspension were given a fresh coat of black paint, and it was time to choose a fresh set of custom rollers to cap off the suspension.
Rolling stock under Double Vision includes six 16x8-inch KMC Slam dualie wheels clad in Bridgestone P225/50R16 rubber. Since so much attention was paid to the suspension mechanics, Joe felt that cleaning up the small-block 350ci V-8 would be a good idea before going haywire on the outer skin.
The original small-block Chevy powerplant was hoisted from the engine compartment and delivered to Met's Engines in Lafayette for an overhaul and a bit of performance massaging. Fit with all-new internal components and bored 0.030 over, Joe opted to install a Lunati roller cam to up the rumble factor. A set of Gibson chrome headers help the mill breathe easy, while a 3.5-inch Gibson exhaust system delivers sweet tones to the ears of both the driver and passengers.
Back at Joe's transmission shop, the original 4L80-E gearbox was rebuilt and fit with a TransGo shift-improvement kit for firm and aggressive gear-snapping excitement whenever Joe nails the throttle. Before the engine and transmission were installed back in the truck, the engine bay was smoothed and painted PPG Lamborghini Yellow to flow with the main exterior hue. The block and valve covers were also squirted Lamborghini Yellow, while miscellaneous polished accessory covers and a Yellow Top Optima battery complete the underhood scenery.
Now that Joe had a turnkey pavement-scraper on his hands, it was time to go the extra mile and get crazy on the exterior with his welder in hand. Not many late-model custom truck enthusiasts have the courage to chop their ride. Joe desired the classic street rod characteristics of a chopped top on his late-model custom and decided to take 6 inches out of the roof to create the ultimate low-down look. Following the bold roofline slice, the rear taillights were shaved and the tail end received an Alter Images roll pan and tailgate skin combination piece molded in and stuffed with Corvette taillights. Moving forward, the bed was molded to the cab, and the rear dualie fenders were molded to the bed sides. The top of the bed was molded shut and fit with a custom trunk door and gas filler.
Shaved door handles and a custom-cut rag top opening in the roof are just a few of the many trick custom body changes. The real metal magic lies in the bold '03 Cadillac Escalade front end molded onto the original '97 front end. Rather than just bolt on an updated Caddy clip like most people do, Joe wanted something different so the front section of an '03 Escalade hood was cut off and molded to the front of the '97 Chevy hood. The outer edges of the hood were retained and reshaped to fit the Escalade portions of the fenders. The same process was done with the fenders as the front portion of a set of '03 Escalade fenders were blended seamlessly into the '97 Chevy front fenders.
The lights, grille, and Escalade bumper were put into place at Joe's paint shop, before the truck was delivered to David Ludwig in Rayne, Louisiana, for paint. David coated Double Vision from front to back in a bright PPG Lamborghini Yellow basecoat and set off the bright glow even further with a set of flames sprayed in House of Kolor sunset-pearl, flowing out of a custom trim graphic reminiscent of the classic trim on a '57 Chevy. Color-sanding and buffing was performed to bring the colors to a deep shine and the truck was delivered to Ricky Smith's Audio in Lafayette for some off-the-hook sounds.
Filling the cab with sweet harmonies is accomplished via an Alpine head unit, Kicker 600 and 1460 amplifiers, eight 10-inch Kicker subwoofers, and a host of Kicker midrange and high-range speakers. Custom enclosures for the subwoofers and amplifiers were built and installed in the bed, which Joe now refers to as the trunk area. Housed in a custom-built center console which flows between the front and rear seats are two VAUX DVD monitors for passenger viewing pleasure. After the installation of the ear-blistering sound system was complete, Joe delivered the truck to Superior Interior in Lafayette for some custom threads to be stitched over the front and back buckets.
Going for comfort and style, the original Crew Cab seats were ditched in favor of '91 Honda Civic buckets up front and '68 Chevy Camaro bucket seats out back. Covering the new seats is a combination of tan leather with ostrich skin inserts. To fill the center space of the cab, Joe built a custom center console out of plywood, which has been glassed, smoothed, and coated in Lamborghini Yellow to match the exterior.
The dash, door panels, and cab plastics were all smoothed and painted yellow for the ultimate street rod look, while miscellaneous billet dash trim pieces and a billet steering wheel round out the interior appeal.
Joe Brown has built himself one radical dualie that successfully blends classic street rod character with contemporary sport truck trends. The truck was recently debut at the SEMA Show in Las Vegas, where spectators drooled over its craftsmanship and fit and finish. All the ingredients of an all-out show hauler can be found in this sanitary dualie and with no cut corners visible anywhere. It just goes to show that taking the extra time to build a truck right yields positive benefits.
Could the dualie craze be making a comeback? If more people build them as clean and crazy as Joe Brown's bright-yellow example, we would hope so.