1998 GMC 2500 - Lowered Expectations

The First Time Goes Big Time For Jason Bell

Joe Greeves
Jan 1, 2004
Photographers: Joe Greeves
Photo 2/2   |   1998 Gmc 2500 orion Silver Paintjob
There's something about a challenge that brings out untapped levels of creativity. You know, it's the old joke about getting the job done because you didn't know it was impossible. Whether it's the need to prove ourselves in competition or because someone questions our ability to succeed, the challenge generally motivates us to new heights.
Jason Bell from Anderson, South Carolina, knows about challenges. He bought his '98 GMC 2500 series brand-new from the dealership and owned it about two years before beginning its customization. "What prompted the makeover?," we asked. "Aggravation!" was his terse reply. A lot of Jason's friends already drove custom trucks and implied that there was no way he could outdo them. Always up for a challenge, he decided to prove them wrong.
Lots of people decide to customize trucks, but Jason's only previous experience was working in the family furniture business and running a window tinting job on the side. He took the unique approach of teaching himself the full range of skills needed to complete the customizing process. He began by modifying the truck's profile using a Firestone Air Ride system with 2,600 'bags and Viair 450 compressors that fill the 10-gallon reserve tank mounted to the chassis. The new adjustable suspension worked well, but it didn't bring the truck quite low enough. In order to take advantage of the new 'bags, the next step was the huge 10-inch C-notch in the rear and Chassis Tech 3-inch dropped spindles up front. Here's where things got complicated. To further emphasize the truck's low profile, Jason decided that a 3-inch body drop would be a nice touch. It went quite well, and while the drop was in process, he decided to eliminate both the top and bottom style lines on the body. Since that also went smoothly, he pressed on, electing to suicide both doors while he was at it. He chose an interesting approach by splitting the doors in half width-wise and removing the outer skin. Then Jason reversed the inner door skins, using the right door on the left side and reconnecting the stock factory hinges. Once the two door skins were properly hinged, he welded the outer skins back on and relocated the latches up front - a neat trick!
The hood is just as interesting in that it is a tilt-forward hood with a smooth underside, thanks to a combination of sheetmetal and fiberglass. The windshield wiper cowl was removed from its factory location and molded to the hood. Since the windshield wipers were eliminated, Rain-X has become his close friend. The front end of the Chevy was fitted with a pair of bumpers, cut in half, and molded back together for a massive look. Stock headlights flank a new Trenz billet grille. All four fenders were flared (1 inch in front, 1 inch in the rear) to make room for the 20-inch MKW wheels wrapped in Kumho 255/35/ZR20 tires. Under the custom hood is a 5.7L Vortec V-8 with a Corvette five-speed automatic transmission. Power additions include an air intake, bigger jets, ported and polished heads, a computer chip, a heavy-duty fuel and water pump, headers, and a custom Flowmaster exhaust.
Moving to the rear, the roof rails were eliminated and the bed of the extended cab truck was filled with a full-width set of tubs, chosen for their dramatic effect as well as to make room for the oversize transfer truck airbags. Just for fun, Jason installed a pair of 60,000-pound transfer truck 'bags in the rear, giving the truck a huge 22 inches of lift. A custom three-link suspension was added along with a Positraction rearend. Inside the bed, the twin nitrogen bottles augmented the Viair compressor; their 3,000-psi capacity ensures lots of play time for the air suspension.
Inside, the huge computer screen in the custom-made center console dominates the interior along with the unique air-powered amp rack. The rack uses a steel frame and a pair of 12-inch air cylinders for upward mobility. When it's time to watch, the six Rockford Fosgate amps create their unique display. Hit the switch and they fill the entire rear window; tap it again and they glide silently out of sight. A formidable power source, the multiple amps send 520 watts to the different banks of 24 mids and highs in the truck as well as the four 10-inch subs housed in their own chrome and Plexiglass enclosure. Each of the doors is equipped with three speakers in custom-made enclosures. Four more speakers are located in the center of the dash, providing a center channel, two more are located in the kick panels, and another dozen are positioned strategically throughout the truck interior. Hidden from view, the twin Optima batteries are located left and right in the extended cab portion of the interior. There is also a 200-amp circuit breaker to protect the entire electrical system.
The huge monitor in the center of the console controls the stereo system. There is no head unit in the truck; everything is done by computer. Using the DVD player and CD burner, Jason has 600 songs in the hard drive and can download more from the cell phone interconnect to the Internet. He again chose the computer because it was a challenge. "I'm not too familiar with computers and don't know a lot about them," he told us. Since he spends so much time in the truck, he thought it would be the perfect way to get smarter if he added a computer to the vehicle. His brother Gerald Bell is a computer graphic artist and computer enthusiast, and he helped Jason with the electronics. Jason did most of the interior, with Anderson Auto Interior handling the Sparco seats, stitching up a combination of carbon-fiber-looking vinyl and silver-tweed fabric.
Jason finished the project by tackling his own paintjob - his first! His all-silver Silverado began with House of Kolor's Orion Silver, tweaked until he found a shade he liked. The ghost graphics are also custom-mixed using darker and lighter shades of silver.
Working on the weekends, the project took two years and resulted in Jason's new business, Twisted Metalworks. The truck has become the rolling calling card for the shop and Jason's talents. Not content with teaching himself how to do body drops, C-notches to the frame, suicide doors, major bodywork, and paint, Jason's future plans include chroming out the engine, creating some unique details in the fenderwells, and adding pneumatic power to the doors and hood. As you can see, you have to be very careful when presenting Jason a challenge.
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