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1994 Chevrolet C1500 Extended Cab

Budnick's Evolutionary C/K Ducati Hauler

Gary Robinson
May 1, 1998
Photographers: Wes Allison
The latest creation from Budnik Wheels isn't a rim, a steering wheel, or a trim accessory. It's a '94 Chevy C1500 Extended Cab truck that Alan Budnik, president and founder of Budnik Wheels, bought new three years ago to haul some of his collection of wild street bikes. It has taken those three years to transform the truck into his vision of what a post-'88 C/K sport trucks should be.
We think he's created a shining example of sport truck styling that rivals the best we've seen. It breaks the mold of late-model cookie-cutter trucks and raises the standard for those who aspire to build a pickup of their own.
The subtle yet unique look of this truck wasn't achieved overnight. It was accomplished through a tedious and meticulous metal-metamorphosis. The front fascia is entirely made of steel which was cut, trimmed, welded, and ground until it fitted tight and smooth, giving the front end a molded one-piece appearance without modifying the hood or front bumper. The grille inserts are precisely machined billet aluminum pieces that have a subtle peak down the center, and the top insert features unique electric hideaway headlamps that are a marvel unto themselves.
The cab has a few noticeable body mods too, including a shaved door with remote electric switches, Street Scene electric mirrors, filled cab body seams, and an oval-shaped third brake light that utilizes a machined and polished acrylic lens inlaid with a computer-generated latex graphic of the Budnik logo.
The front end clip is made even more swoopy with a specially made metal hood cowl which covers windshield wipers that were modified to exhibit a lower profile. The cowl features two functional scoops that direct air into the HVAC.
Then there's the bed that's as unique and swoopy as the front fascia and grille. You can't begin to appreciate the work that has gone into the bed until you study it very closely. For starters, the bed's sides were pulled out 1.5 inches per side to accommodate the 13.5-inch-wide Goodyear tires Alan planned to use on his newly designed, specially made 18x12 Budnik Arrowhead wheels. He also made a molded-steel rear roll pan for the bed and modified the tailgate which has a reversed latch, a small spoiler welded onto its top edge, and radiused exterior corners, and it houses part of the modified '97 S-10 taillights that mount partially in the bed corners and in the tailgate.
The tailgate's lower fitment gap was decreased and the hinges were relocated. To open the latch, a remote pull-cable system is used. A peek just below the steel molded rear roll pan spots a unique belly pan held on with quarter-turn fasteners that have oval exits through which the polished stainless steel exhaust tips protrude. To prevent road debris from collecting in the belly pan, Alan handmade and installed special steel rear inner fenderwell panels.
On top of the bed is a flat flush-mounted canvas-covered aluminum bedcover--another unique Budnik creation. It's comprised of four panels; the two in the center swing downward to create an opening for hauling Budnik's '97 Ducati 916 two-wheeled canyon carver without having to remove the bedcover. Macs tie-downs and special aircraft connectors mounted to the bed floor help secure the bike.
Keeping with the tight-fit theme, Alan moved the bed 3/4 inch forward to close the gap between the front of the bed and the back of the cab. That completed the bold creation and implementation of sheetmetal mods--probably the most important yet difficult part of this buildup.
Redoing the chassis was much easier, but nearly as important since stance is intrinsic to a sport truck's overall image. Because the bed was moved forward 3/4 inch, Alan also moved the rear end 3/4 inch forward from its stock location. He C-notched and boxed the rear framerails for axle-housing clearance, relocated the springs' hangers upward from their stock position, and, in the pursuit of the right rear ride height, installed a set of Firestone airbags on a custom-made mounting system.
The front suspension was treated to a set of Belltech 2-inch dropped spindles, Eibach springs, and a set of Firestone airbags mounted inside the coil springs with the front shock absorbers relocated to an outer mounting point on the lower control arm. Front- and rear-mounted Suspension Techniques sway bars help to stiffen the chassis and stifle cab and bed roll. Big Baer Racing binders work on all four corners to promptly slow things down, and give a high-tech look that blends well with the newly designed open-lug Budnik Arrowhead rims.
Body-paint prep was completed by Alan and his crew, but the final sanding and spraying was performed by Mick Jenkins of Mick's Paint of Huntington Beach, California. Mick applied PPG Yellow over the smoothly prepped metal surface, and with the help of Paco, color-sanded and buffed the paint to an almost-liquid high luster.
Then, Budnik's hauler was hauled to Arizona for audio and exhaust tuning. Streamline Audio in Tempe, Arizona, created and installed a powerful audio system with fantastic style and sound, using the best Rockford Fosgate automotive audio hardware.
B Fabrication installed a set of Doug Thorley Headers and backed them up with a custom-built, all-stainless steel-tube, hand-fabricated exhaust system. All exhaust components were treated to a protective ceramic coating provided by HPC coatings of Salt Lake City.
Back in SoCal, it was trim time for the truck. Alan can do many things with his machining and metalworking talents, but upholstery isn't one of them. He commissioned Dan Miller of Simi Valley, California, to cut, fit, and stitch Spinneybeck leather over the Flo-Fit front bucket seats, reshaped rear seat, custom door panels, dash pod, console, and the newly designed Budnik Stringer billet aluminum steering wheel.
The steering wheel, steering column cover, and various other exposed interior panels were all color-matched in a flat tone to complement the leather interior and contrast with the bright yellow exterior hue.
As for the truck's powertrain, Alan opted to keep the 5.7L V-8 and 700R4 transmission stock for now so that he can enjoy the fruits of his labors by putting some miles on the truck.
Further plans include the possible installation of a '97 Vette LS1 V-8 engine--a powerplant worthy of a sport truck of this quality. There may be other surprises to come, but according to Alan, only time will tell. As he puts it, "Nothing is ever really finished. As time progresses, there's always some new idea that can make something better than before."
Maybe so, but we think time will prove Alan's Ducati Hauler to be an ageless sport truck masterpiece.



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