1999 Cadillac Escalade EVT
Happiness Comes at a Cost
Bobby Martinez of Clovis, New Mexico, jokingly calls his truck The Crapalade, which couldn't be further from the truth, but his jaded attitude is understandable once you find out that it was built in three months for SEMA. It's a story that some can personally relate to, but more so, one that many of you have read before within the pages of Sport Truck: A truck is picked up, built in record time for the show of all shows, and then it all catches back up with the builders. Most want to climb in a hole and sleep for about six months, but life's not fair like that.
For Robby, it all started when he picked up this '99 Chevy Silverado from a local wholesale dealer last August and took it back to his shop, Solar Shield. The game plan was to do a full Caddy conversion on the truck, but it was important that the truck wasn't just another cookie-cutter vehicle. It would need to have features that no other truck would have at SEMA.
The first thing on the to-do list was to get the truck to sit at a respectable level. Tony at Southwest Concepts pulled out the lower control arms and replaced them with DJM drop pocket arms. A set of Firestone 2,600-pound 'bags replaced the coil springs and were plumbed with 1/2-inch line through Parker valves. The rear axle was flipped and treated to Firestone 'bags as well, which were run through the valves to a 244ci nitrogen tank mounted in the rear. To finish off the job, a set of 22-inch Edge Concepts Arrow wheels encased in Toyo rubber was set onto each corner.
Elmo at Northstar Paint & Body removed the front bumper, grille, and hood, and began to reshape the front fenders to accept the new sheetmetal from an '02 Escalade. The hood was removed and a set of recessed vents was cut into the driver and passenger side of the hood. Six chrome trim pieces were cut to length and tapered for some additional styling, and were later installed once everything was painted and put back together.
To help clean up the cab, the seams were filled, the door handles were shaved, a set of Street Scene mirrors was added, and a custom third brake light was set in above the rear window. Below the window, the stake pockets were filled, and the stock taillights were removed, filled, and replaced with Caddy tails. To complement the custom styling on the nose of the truck, Elmo decided to do something a little different with the tailgate. An extruded design was started from the sides of the tailgate and brought in to meet at an angular peak at the center.
Northstar then came up with a two-tone paint scheme that would bring out the unique body lines of the truck. The top portion of the truck was sprayed using Dupont Silver and the lower half was coated with White. An overlapping flame design was laid out over the fenders, doors, and bedsides, then connected below the custom body lines of the tailgate. The Dupont Blue flames were then pinstriped by the steady hand of Rick Mayo of Eight Ball Engineering.
Below the hood, a few upgrades were added to the 5.3L powerplant. A K&N cold-air intake and Poweraid throttle-body spacer were added to the top of the engine, while a set of Gibson headers was coupled with a MagnaFlow exhaust down below. To improve the stock programming, a Hypertech Power Programmer was plugged in below the dash to re-burn the computer.
The inside of the truck was treated to a slew of fiberglass, paint, and billet. The door panels were removed and reconstructed using resin and 'glass, then painted to match the exterior. A center console was constructed from steel and incorporates the vent styling from the hood. The two-tone graphics were applied to the console, and the dash was smoothed and sprayed with silver. Behind the dash sits a Cadillac gauge cluster, which continues the Caddy theme. Cody Boles used white and sapphire leather to rewrap the seats and headrests.
An Alpine 6100 flip-screen head unit was chosen to command the stereo equipment throughout the cab. Alpine full-range speakers fill up the dash, doors, and rear pillars, while two 10-inch MTX subs bump from below the rear seats. The subs are supplied with 800 watts of Alpine power, and the full-range speakers are powered with a 500-watt Alpine amp.
To finish up the truck, Robby sprayed the bed using a Reflex spray-on bedliner, which can be mixed with standard automotive paint for color-matching. It's the little things that end up setting one truck apart from the next, and Robby, with the help of some other great people, went the extra mile to make subtle, yet extremely effective modifications to his truck. Hopefully, after they get some needed rest and relaxation, they'll start to like the truck again.