1995 GMC Sierra - Switch Hitter
A Suspension Guy's 'Rail-Dragging Ride
Making a career out of automotive passion is something that individuals have strived to do for many years. After all, if you are a car nut, what could be better than spending the majority of your time wrenching on radical rides? For years, enthusiasts have turned the hobby of building and showing custom rides into businesses which cater to those who may have the passion but lack the mechanical know-how required to make the custom facets of a hot-rod hauler work together for the ultimate look. There are many elements involved in turning a stock pickup into a colorful and slammed work of art.
A large part of any custom truck's appearance is its stance. The way the fender lips tuck over the tire and conceal a small or large portion of some bright and shiny chrome or billet aluminum wheels is attributed to the hard work put into the truck's suspension, enabling it to sit at a ditch-digging level. Jessie Dickerson of North Little Rock, Arkansas, is an automotive artist by trade. As the owner and operator of Air Ride by Jessie in North Little Rock, Jessie uses a truck's undercarriage as his blank canvas on which to execute his professional suspension expertise. Ridding the world of stock-height Bow Ties, Blue Ovals, and Rams is Jessie's main professional concern, as he spends his weekdays welding, grinding, and fabricating to make his customers' switch-hitting dreams come true. With a knack for putting rides in the weeds, it was only natural that Jessie have his own custom hauler to promote his business and show off his work. Getting Jessie back and forth between his home and shop in style is the '95 GMC spread across these pages, dripping with color and sitting at the perfect level with big bold billets at all four corners. It should be obvious from the images here, this is no average shop truck.
The project took shape back in December of 2001, when the search began for a reliable daily driver with a clean body and low miles that could be easily transformed into a show hauler. A '95 GMC standard cab was located, and it was not long before this beauty had a permanent date with the Arkansas asphalt. To drop the 'rails to the ground, Belltech 2-inch drop spindles were first mounted up front, along with Firestone 2600 1/2-inch port airbags. Out back, the rear framerails were kicked up 7-1/2 inches above the rear axle in the form of a bridge notch using 2x4-inch steel tubing, and a custom-made triangulated two-link suspension was fabbed up. Moving the tail end up and down are Firestone 2600 1/2-inch port airbags. The entire adjustable suspension system is plumbed with 1/2-inch Parker air valves, 1/2-inch stainless steel air lines, two 5-gallon air tanks, two nitrogen bottles, and four Thomas 317 compressors. Damping the suspension are Belltech shock absorbers, forward and aft, to complement the ride characteristics of the air bellows. When Jessie can't keep his hands off the switches, a set of 20x8-inch Eagle Style 212 wheels are tucked neatly under the fenders and protected from road hazards by BFG rubber, measuring P245/40ZR20 up front and P245/45ZR20 in the rear
To enhance the driving performance of this slammed stunner, Jessie added some ponies to the factory 5.7L in the form of JBA headers, a MagnaFlow exhaust, and an AIRAID intake system. With the suspension and some mild performance upgrades completed, body modifications and custom paint were next on the list.
To transform the truck's exterior into an attractive rolling portrait of the extreme end of customizing, it was first left with the capable hands of professional bodyman Steven Harts. The front clip was first replaced with a complete Cadillac Escalade unit to give the nose a more elegant and aggressive appearance. To clear the body of all unnecessary stock elements, Steven shaved the door handles, stake pocket holes, tailgate handle, antenna, wiper squirters, third-brake light, gas door, and stock taillights. A Sir Michaels steel roll pan was molded into the tail-end scenery, and '94 Cadillac taillights provide stylish and attractive stopping and turning signals for those who follow Jessie's ride in admiration.
Once the metal had been worked over and the grinder had done its job of cleaning up all the rough welds, Jessie and Jeff Bryant from McCormick's Paint & Body in Jacksonville, Arkansas, spent some time in front of the paint cabinet picking hues to help kick off the subtle and not-so-subtle modifications performed on the exterior. What they came up with was a bright PPG Toner Yellow base with 14 different hues used in contrasting graphic patterns, present on both sides of the truck. The driver side was graced with slash-cut graphics and flame patterns, while the passenger side features various patterns running through Toner Yellow, with a granite effect down below. With the exterior attitude complete, the metal artwork was color sanded and buffed to a showground shine, and customizing attention was shifted to the bland and stock cockpit.
Enlisting the professional assistance of Jay Lucy of AC Sports in North Little Rock, Arkansas, Jessie set out to smooth and paint every plastic panel on the inside of the cab including the dash, A-pillar posts, and back cab wall plastics. After hours of removing the factory texture, the panels were drenched in yellow liquid to match the exterior base and the graphics from the hood were continued inside on the top of the dash. The requisite aluminum spice was added in the form of a Billet Specialties steering wheel and miscellaneous bits and billet pieces. The stock bench seating arrangement was updated by Buddy's Upholstery in Cabot, Arkansas, with the addition of gray and yellow leather.
To make cruising in Switch Hitter entertaining on the audio end of the spectrum, Jessie had AC Sports wire up and install a kick-tail audio system complete with a Pioneer head unit, Audiobahn amplifiers, Audiobahn mids and highs, and two 10-inch MA Audio subwoofers mounted in a custom-built box behind the seat. A Pioneer DVD monitor unit allows for a bit of viewing pleasure as well
Since its completion, Jessie has shown Switch Hitter at such popular shows as Texas Heat Wave and Showfest in Greenville, Mississippi, and has turned quite a few heads with his bright and bold Bow Tie. If only we could all roll to work sparking frame and tucking rim, the custom truck world would be a better place.