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1997 GMC S-15 - Orange Phase

The Mandarin Ripens

Amanda Presley
Aug 1, 2004
Photographers: Lance Martz
Photo 2/9   |   1997 Gmc S15 1997 Gmc S15
Life tends to run in phases: the baby phase, the teenage phase, and the midlife-crisis phase. In a weird twist, custom truck buildups have a similar sort of breakdown: the brand-new phase, the what-the-hell-is-this-going-to-be? phase, and the recovery phase.
In the 15 years that Randy Brow has been customizing vehicles, he's seen those spaces of time come and go. The Rochester Hills, Michigan, native has rebuilt numerous S-10s and found a passion to run with. While the bodywork on a truck is a project in itself, Randy also works a little magic under the hood.
Randy's eye caught sight of this '97 S-15 in mid-1997, and he was impressed with the idea of what could be achieved. Taking the little Chevy to Lifestyle Kustoms in Rochester Hills, Randy began reworking the suspension and adding Air Ride 'bags all the way around. The baby phase also included the addition of Belltech 2-inch drop spindles. To set the frame a little lower than usual, the guys welded in a step notch and cut the bed frame to allow the suspension to fully cycle. The rear suspension received a reverse four-link to keep the axle in line. On each corner, 18x8-inch KMC wheels housed in Toyo rubber were bolted on.
At this point, the S-15 hit the teenager years, and it was time to decide what type of self-inflicted bodywork would help this ride find its identity. Starting with the basics, the Lifestyle crew shaved the tailgate handle and added a steel roll pan. A set of Envoy lights took up residence next to a billet grille, drawing the attention to front and center. A Goodhood Ram Air hood was then swapped on, and the body was ready for that special hue. Randy's experience came in handy as he selected PPG's Mandarin Orange to cloak the S-15 and set it apart.
As it has been said time and time again, life flies by. You can never predict what's going to happen, and before you know it, a midlife crisis causes all hell to break loose. The S-15 was no different and found itself back in the shop, broken but not beaten after being T-boned by another truck. Naturally, the damage was sustained shortly after the paint was sprayed. Once again, though, experience came into play, and Randy took the S-15 in for a little surgery: a 3-inch body drop.
With the paint back in place, the interior was given a little makeover. The dash and interior bezels were sanded, smoothed, and painted to match the Mandarin Orange peel. The door inserts, door panels, and center console were also orange-matched and accented by a billet steering wheel.
Although this orange peel only took three years to mature, Randy knows that every late night spent in the garage counts as a lesson learned. The work has paid off, though, with the S-15 taking home First and Second Place trophies along the East Coast. This phase is complete.


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