Custom 1997 Chevrolet Silverado - Low Life Kustom
A Fullsize That Will Rail With the Best of Them!
Back in early 2000, Josh Eppes was out looking for a truck to customize when he ran across this '97 Chevy Silverado at a local car lot. Josh wanted to build a truck that wouldn't be an ordinary run-of-the-mill mini-truck, which is why he chose this fullsize truck. Since Josh spends most of his time in Beaufort, South Carolina, serving as a Marine, while his family lives a few hours away in Anderson, South Carolina, it gave him several different shops to choose from as he started to work on his truck. He is also the owner of Low Life Kustoms, also in Beaufort, which not only gives him a place to do much of the work himself, but also gives him something to do while he's not out protecting our country.
The first thing to do was get the truck a little closer to the ground - in this case, flat on the ground. In the front, the stock spindles were swapped for a set of DJM spindles and the springs were tossed to make room for a set of Slam Specialties 'bags. Out back, the frame was notched and a two-link was added. A set of Firestone 'bags was used for lift in the rear. To make sure he would always have plenty of air, Josh hooked up an engine-driven compressor and a 12-gallon tank, which is mounted in the bed. He used all 1/2-inch lines with 1/2-inch Up valves and 3/8-inch Down valves so the dumps would be a little slower.
After driving around for a while with the truck just being able to lay frame, it was time to take the truck to the next level and get the body to lay out. In order to do this, Josh, with the help of Bob Reffle, modified the frame for the 3-1/2-inch stock-floor body drop. The stock gas tank was swapped out for an S-10 tank for better clearance, and the filler neck was moved inside the bed. The stock battery location was also raised to clear the wheels when the truck was laid out.
Now that the body of the truck could be slammed flat on the ground, it was time to pick out a set of wheels that would tuck nicely. Josh decided to go with a set of 20x8.5-inch Boyd Coddingtons wrapped in a set of 255/35R20 Dunlop Sport 9000 tires in the front and a set of 22x10s with 285/30R22 rubber in the rear. The inside of the bed was tubbed all the way across and smoothed out to clear the new wheels and framework, then Rhino-lined for protection. To keep things intact, the new 3-inch exhaust piping and Flowmaster mufflers were plated to keep from dragging them to pieces on one of the many drag sessions Josh puts the truck through.
Now that Josh was happy with the look of the truck, he decided that the body needed to receive the same amount of work as the suspension did. For starters, the whole front clip was swapped out by Josh and Nick Dodgens for an Escalade clip. The front bumper was then replaced with a new GMC piece. Josh took it upon himself to make sure the door handles, antenna, emblems, tailgate handle, gas door, and stock taillights were all welded up and smoothed out. To continue the smooth look, the tailgate was then welded closed. Just to make sure he wouldn't get rear-ended, a set of Cadillac taillights was grafted in place of the stock taillights.
Now that the bodywork was done, it was time for Josh to spray the two-tone paint using DuPont base and PPG clear at his shop. The bottom half of the truck was painted Silver, while the top half was painted Tangerine Orange. After driving with a basic two-tone for a while, Josh still felt his paint was missing something. That something wound up being a few graphics and flames to split up the two-tone. Some tribal lines were sprayed with Nissan 350Z Blue and pinstriped with Silver, while the flames were done in Green and striped with Baby Blue.
With the bulk of the truck already done, it was time to redo the interior before it was all bolted back in. All the plastic pieces, including the dash, door panels, and trim, were 'glassed and painted with the same Silver off the bottom of the truck by Josh and Joe Rosenbaum. The door panels were smoothed before the paint was sprayed, and a JL emblem was raised in the passenger door. A four-window control panel was grafted in the driver door and wired up so that the front buttons would control the two windows while the two rear buttons, meant for a set of rear door windows, control the air suspension. A custom center console was made to house the air gauges and a monitor. The CD changer was also mounted in the driver side of the new console, and a Sony PS2 was molded in the passenger-side airbag hole. A Billet Accessories Direct (BAD) steering wheel replaces the stock unit, and a Trenz billet rearview mirror, along with a few other billet pieces, were used to brighten up the interior. Custom kick panels house JL 6-1/2-inch mids, and tweeters were made in order to match additional JL speakers that were 'glassed into the doors. The seats were then stitched with gray tweed and orange vinyl, while the headliner was wrapped with gray tweed and accented with raised flames.
In the extended-cab portion of the truck, Jack from Onsite Installations in Beaufort built a custom fiberglass enclosure that houses a JL BW7 sub as well as JL 1000/1 and 300/2 amps. The enclosure and custom center console were painted to match the truck, complete with orange flames.
Even though most trucks built on this level can be seen sitting in a garage until it's time for a show, that is one place you'll never see Josh's truck. He drives it on a daily basis, yet trailers it to shows. The only reason he trailers it to shows is because he normally tries to break something by railing it at the show and wants to make sure he can get it home. You can not only see him taking Best of Show awards, but you can also usually see a trail of sparks shooting from under the truck while he's off railing with the rest of his club, Aftermath. Josh would like to thank Ben Morgan, Clint Garrison, Joe Rosenbaum, Jack at Onsite Installations, Russell at Hitts, and his fellow Aftermath members - oh, and, of course, his girlfriend for understanding his love of the sport.