1997 Chevrolet S-10 - Audio Overload

Earplugs Optional

Joe Greeves
Sep 1, 2005
Photographers: Joe Greeves
Photo 2/2   |   1997 Chevy S10 rear Side View
Most of the time, we photograph a truck that had the bodywork done first and the stereo installed sometime later. Bobby Hillgaertner from Ocklawaha, Florida, did it the other way around. His '97 S-10 is a complete package that attracts Best of Show trophies like a magnet, but the stereo in this ride was no afterthought. Originally designed as an audio competitor under IASCA rules, the sound-quality truck became a solid contender on the audio circuit. With this much exposure, Bobby decided to expand his business, AudioNutz, that he and his cousin Steve Head started in their garage. The truck's success contributed to the business' success, and the customer demand for Bobby's systems allows him to come up with some radical configurations.
The first thing you notice about this truck is the combination of great paint, wild graphics, and the fullsize 22-inch wheels. Move a little closer, and you'll discover an amazing variety of details. It's obvious that Bobby's first love is stereos; the system in this truck is as elaborate as any we've seen. Open both doors on the driver side, and you'll see the collection of amplifiers, speakers, and monitors that make up his award-winning package. The extended cab provided lots of additional room, but for a true competition system, even that was not enough. Bobby began by cutting a pass-through under the back window to accommodate the sub enclosure. The custom box holds the twin OZ Audio 12-inch subs that fire directly into the cab. Behind the seats, the elaborate collection of four ARC Audio amps energizes the system with more than 5,000 watts. A free-form fiberglass stand not only showcases the amps and the PlayStation 2, but also becomes a major design element for the interior. Between the seats, the unique center console features a skull-shaped armrest that incorporates the Dakota Digital air gauge for the air suspension system. The power window switches in the driver-side door were modified and now activate the 'bags.
In order to free up the space in the dash, the Sony CDX C90 head unit was relocated to the forward portion of the fiberglass center console, along with a joystick remote that works all the controls. Bobby used the space in the dash to install the Accelle 10.4-inch screen. Multiple speakers were positioned throughout the cabin in addition to the two subwoofers in the pass-through enclosure. Each door also holds another 12-inch OZ Audio sub, and the kick panels were fitted with Morel 9-inch mid-bass units. All front stage speakers are also from Morel with 4-inch mids in custom fiberglass enclosures on the dash along with 1-inch tweeters on the A-pillars and doors. Completing the interior are the Nu Image flamed gauges, tweed upholstery, billet accents from Billet and Acrylic Fantasies, Trenz flamed rearview mirror, and Katzkin cream-colored leather on the modified S-10 seats. A Clifford security system protects the truck and its contents. While that might have been enough for most, it was just the beginning of the custom work on this radical S-10.
Chassis work began by replacing both the front and rear suspensions with Air Ride Technologies components. The front end uses new upper and lower control arms, 2-inch Belltech drop spindles, Shock Wave shocks, and Power Slot front disc brakes. The rear incorporates a 6-inch notch and a four-link setup with Air Ride tapered 'bags. A VIAIR 400 compressor fills the 5-gallon reserve tank using 3/8-inch lines. All the components are located out of sight, under the bed.
Running big wheels created the look he was going for, but also presented a new set of problems. In order to add the 22s, Bobby carefully measured the available space, then had Intro design wheels with the proper backspacing. Wrapped in Nitto rubber, the Twisted Vista II front wheels are 22x8 inches and the rears are 22x10 inches. Once the wheels were in place, it was a simple matter of relocating the clutch reservoir and notching the firewall for clearance. While he was under the hood, the 2.2L four-cylinder engine received plenty of attention, receiving a Sport Truck Specialties intake, Comp cam, 60-shot ZEX nitrous kit, Pace Setter header, Borla muffler, electric fan, Stinger 200-amp alternator for the multiple battery setup, and lots of detailing.
Body mods included a Cal Combo tailgate skin from FBI, an integrated roll pan, and subtle Hi-Tek 18-inch LED taillights. Covering the bed is a new Gem Top tonneau adorned with a Maltese cross and skull graphic. Lift the cover to discover the new fiberglass enclosure that houses the multiple batteries powering the system and the nitrous bottle, paint-matched nitrous bottle. Up front, the Street Scene front bumper is fitted with APC projector headlights, JBM grille insert, and PIAA foglights. Additional details included a smoothed cowl, a rear window from Altered Images complete with license plate holder, shaved door handles, and side mirrors from Arlen Ness. The primary color is the new Mopar Amber Fire Pearl handled by Central Florida Collision in Bellview, Florida. The beautiful graphics add to the look using multiple House of Kolor shades. Eagle Eye Graphics, also in Bellview, did the airbrushing.
What does the future hold for this consistent Best of Show winner? Bobby plans to rebuild the dash, rework the firewall, and go with even larger wheels. There may even be a body drop in the truck's future! We will be looking forward to seeing more of this slickly styled, stereo S-10. Bobby would like to thank Tony at Air Ride Technologies, Lynn at Intro Wheels, Chad at Accelle TV, everyone at A.R.C Audio, the folks at BAD and Dakota Digital, his AudioNutz partner, Steve Head, and everyone from Acraphobia Car Club.
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