A Bow Tie Body-Dropped Below Purgatory
The trends appearing in the custom truck scene over the last few years have pushed enthusiasts to cut, notch, chop, shave, and mold their rides into rocker-dragging works of art. The scene today has exploded with trucks that lay body, tuck exceptionally large rims and rubber, and feature a plethora of body modifications that are both mild and radical.
In taking a close look at the do-or-die spirit that encompasses the hobby of building and showing customized trucks, the staff of Truckin' couldn't be happier. When builders go all the way to build the most radical rides on the planet, more quality cover trucks land on the coveted Truckin' cover, therefore setting the bar higher for other builders and enthusiasts to try and match the work currently out there.
Eric Dunaway from Tacoma, Washington, is an enthusiast who would not let up when creating the '02 Chevy Silverado laid gracefully across these pages. From the start of the project, Eric was committed to laying Blue Hell out over a set of 24-inch wheels and tires and tending to every custom detail inside and out. The truck's previous rendition made the pages of Truckin' back in the Jul. '03 issue under the title "Identity Crisis." Back then, Eric was content rolling low on air with 22s and an Escalade front clip, but he knew that to achieve his goal of seeing the Silverado on the cover of Truckin,' a complete makeover with more body alterations, a brighter base color with graphics, and a host of audio gear and extended custom interior work was in order. After presenting the Truckin' staff with a rendering drawn up by talented automotive artist Jason Rushforth, Eric went to work and began tearing the Silverado down.
As with any custom truck build, the first order of business to nail is the stance. Once a truck has the right stance everything else tends to fall into place and the direction of the project can be shaped. One of Eric's crystal-clear goals for the finished look of Blue Hell was to be able to lay the truck's rocker panels on the ground while stuffing 24-inch rims and tires up into the fenderwells. This is not an easy feat by any means, but when you are determined, anything is possible. Enter the suspension and fabrication pros at IF Customs (IFC) in Sylmar, California. After a bit of shop research and checking out other rides on the show scene the company worked on, Eric figured the crew at IFC could make his body-grinding dreams come true. And for an added bonus, they were not scared to cut the truck up for 24s. Starting up front, a pair of Slam Specialties RS72 airbags was used to regulate ride control and bury the bottom edge of the Escalade front bumper on any ground surface Eric chooses.
To hammer the tail end, Dave, Carey, Fonze, Phil, and Matt, all from IFC, step-notched the frame, built a custom rear crossmember, and installed a custom IFC two-link with Slam Specialties' RS72 airbags. Air is flowed to the 'bags through a 1/2-inch line, while removal and supply of air for the 'bags are handled by GC 450 1/2-inch valves. Air storage is managed by three 5-gallon air tanks that are fed by an Oasis HP1000 compressor mounted underneath the bed. An IFC switchbox takes commands from Eric's itchy trigger finger, which enables the fenderwell openings to close in on the 24x10-inch Rozzi Switch rims and Kumho P305/35R24 rubber.
To facilitate a snug fit and eliminate clearance issues, the bright, chrome Rozzis were milled on the backside to the tune of a 1/2-inch by Classic Wheel Works in Glendora, California. The stock rearend was narrowed 4-1/2 inches by Hoopers Rear End Exchange in Sun Valley, California, to get the 24s to nestle comfortably inside the Silverado's rear fenderwell openings and sit flush with the bed sides. After the IFC crew got Blue Hell to lay rail on 24s, the next challenge was to hammer the rockers on the tarmac. Careful measuring followed and a 4-inch body drop was carried out on the Chevy to capture the ultimate laid-out look Eric had cemented in his cranium. When body-dropping a truck to this degree, clearance problems come into play under the hood with the brake booster location and A/C placement. Due to the exceptionally large rollers capping off the suspension on Blue Hell, these clearance issues became even tighter, and IFC was forced to move the A/C back and relocate the brake booster.
Completion of the suspension work and body drop led the IFC metal magicians to the body, where Eric's list of smooth subtractions was attended to with care. Now missing from Blue Hell's exterior metal landscape are the door handles, the gas door, the taillights, the stake pocket openings, and the rain gutters. Out back, the scenery was smoothed with a Grant Kustoms roll pan and tailgate skin combination that eliminated all annoying seams and cleaned up the rear view for smooth show status. A set of LED taillights mounted in the top of the tailgate region keeps tailgaters at bay when Eric takes Blue Hell out for a mid-Saturday cruising excursion. A Cadillac Escalade front clip present on the truck's previous debut remains intact, while the custom exhaust tips fabricated by R&J Customs in Buckley, Washington, exiting through the center of the Grant roll pan become just one of the many new body additions. Topping the bed is a custom-made tonneau constructed by Ryan at R&J Customs, which helps to seal the host of audio enhancements mounted inside the box from the elements.
After IFC performed all of the rough metalwork, the truck was put into the hands of R&J Customs where Shawn made sure the body was smoothed to a wrinkle-free and baby's-backside quality before the crafty colors were laid down. While Ryan at R&J was in fabrication mode, he fabbed up a host of custom sheetmetal engine dress-up panels to give the doghouse a less-is-more street-rod appearance.
With the metal sculpting complete, R&J Customs' painter Rich Thayer mixed up a large helping of House of Kolor True Blue with Magic Pearl and began creating a bright, new look for the Bow Tie. Several coats were laid down to ensure supreme coverage and set the stage for the devilish Jason Rushforth-designed flame graphics. Using House of Kolor Silver, the beltline is accented with a Swiss cheese-style tear-away graphic flowing all the way down both sides and meeting in the center of the molded tailgate. Running through the center of the fenders, doors, extra cab region, and finishing out on the bed are House of Kolor Primetime Green flames with arrow-shaped tips. All of the fresh liquid artistry was sealed with clear, and the truck emerged from the booth at
R&J a smoothed and flamed stunner. It was then brought to a deep shine after a lengthy color-sanding and polishing session.
Now that Eric had the exterior looks in check, his attention was on the interior and audio system, what modifications to make, and what equipment to use to get the truck's guts to match the degree of detail present on the surface. Since the truck was now body-dropped over big wheels and sporting an elaborate paint scheme over a sea of custom metal modifications, Eric knew the cabin had to be off-the-hook -- out came the checkbook and the creative element. The truck was delivered to Advanced Audio Design in Auburn, Washington, where Jim Benham went crazy designing a system to make heads turn and eardrums bleed. An Eclipse head unit heads up the pack of audio gear, while a custom enclosure in the bed, built by Jim, holds four 15-inch Cadence subwoofers. Mounted inside each extra cab door panel are two 10-inch Cadence subwoofers balanced out with four 6.5-inch Cadence mid-range speakers and four Cadence tweeters. Amplification is handled by one Cadence four-channel amplifier for the mids and highs and three two-channel Cadence amplifiers for the subwoofers, which are all mounted in custom form in the bed. Wiring for the audio system was handled by Benji at Advanced Audio Design. Visual entertainment was attended to by Accele Electronics in the form of a custom DVD unit sending images to a host of screens located throughout the cockpit. A 10.2-inch Accele monitor was grafted into the dash, while each seat headrest features an electric slide up 15.4-inch Accele screen. Displayed in the airbag panel is yet another 7-inch monitor, while each custom door panel features a 7-inch monitor. Virtually everywhere you look there is visual entertainment in this Chevy.
Complementing the wild audio ensemble inside the cab of Blue Hell is a custom-stitched upholstery featuring black leather and blue suede. McFarland Upholstery in Buckley, Washington, is responsible for the custom interior amenities. Jamie and Chong at McFarland Upholstery custom-built the rear seat to allow sound to travel from the ported box into the interior. Adorning the floor is Mercedes-Benz charcoal carpet, while a custom center console covered in black suede holding the air gauges and head unit complements the surroundings. For a bit of contrast, the reconfigured door panels were painted to match the exterior with the graphics running through the jambs for extra detail that flows seamlessly onto the panels. The dash was smoothed and painted in House of Kolor True Blue to stand out from the seats and show off the custom Severed Ties-themed billet steering wheel. To keep things cool, the factory A/C controls were moved to the glovebox where they would be out of sight. The finished look was not confined to the cabin, as McFarland Upholstery also took care to upholster the box in black leather to complement the custom-made audio enclosures.
Eric Dunaway built one insane custom Chevy that is currently forcing a lot of enthusiasts on the scene to go back to the drawing board with their trucks. His commitment to build the perfect pavement-altering stunner paid off as it shines on the cover of this month's Truckin'. Eric would like to thank the crew at IFC (Dave, Carey, Fonze, Phil, and Matt), artist Jason Rushforth, good friend T.K. Wilhite, Brandon at Rozzi Wheels, Rich Thayer, Shawn, and Ryan at R&J Customs, Chad Lucas at Accele Electronics, Jamie and Chong at McFarland Upholstery, and Jim Benham and Benji at Advanced Audio Design for all of their efforts on the project. Eric would also like to thank his extra-patient wife, Jennifer, for putting up with his automotive addiction and allowing this rolling masterpiece to become a reality. Blue Hell has definitely raised the bar in respect to all-out fullsize show trucks and has come along way from its first appearance in Truckin'. It just goes to show what a little vision and commitment will do when embarking on a custom truck project. There is no doubt that Blue Hell will be blazing up the show scene for several years to come.