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1997 Toyota Tacoma Cover Truck Rebuild - Back From The Dead

Extreme Audio & Kustoms Cover Truck Rebuild

Mike Alexander
Aug 1, 2009
Photographers: Courtesy Of Extreme Audio & Customs
We've touched on what happens to past cover trucks once the owner decides it's time to move on.
Most are sold and very few are resurrected to see our cameras, much less the light of day, ever again. This happens to be one of those rare cases, because after Gunner, from Sunset, came across "Slapper's" Tacoma, he knew he wanted to build his own version of the perfect minitruck.
When it was time to get to business, Gunner made two phone calls. First on his list was a call to Devious Customs to modernize the outdated reverse four-link setup on the truck, although, back when Jendro originally 'bagged this Tacoma, it was well ahead of its time. After Jeff and the boys at Devious did their duties, the next phone call was to Joel "Grommit" Sadenwasser at Extreme Audio & Kustoms for the rest of the makeover. This phone call turned this project into a complete rebuild and where our story begins. The truck drove into the shop still looking like "Slapper's" Tacoma and by the time the crew at Extreme Audio had their way with it, the completely transformed Tacoma rolled out as a masterpiece.
Extreme Audio & Kustoms had their hands full with a complete rebuild including full paint, interior, and stereo to be completed in time for the Forbidden Fantasy show, which was only five months away. The starring cast of this build begins with the shop owner and "Project Manager" Joel "Grommit" Sadenwasser. His crew is made up of several talented individuals, so even though the timeline was daunting, it was nothing this team couldn't handle. Adam "Hand Made" Radovich is the stereo and interior master, Matt "The Lagger" Hutchinson handled the paint duties, and Marc "Penut" Darrah took on the role of body work and shop help.
This issue delves deep behind the scenes and rather than showing you the usual step by step install process, we're taking an exclusive inside look at a few of the craziest minitruck builds. So check out what it took to transform this 2003 cover truck into a 2009 cover truck, and be sure to grab our next issue as well for the full feature. For more information, contact the companies listed in the Source box.
The Beginning
Every project starts somewhere, and this one is no different. This truck has seen some wear and tear since its original build. After Devious buttoned up the suspension work, it was time for the crew at Extreme Audio & Kustoms to rebuild the rest of the truck. They decided to start from scratch and began by disassembling the entire truck to put a game plan into action. With the truck tore down, the plan was set to split the truck into two major projects being worked on simultaneously to meet the strenuous deadline. After the tear down, they split into two teams: body and paint, and interior and stereo. Even though some of the work crossed over, this allowed the team to stay on schedule and focus on quality work in a demanding amount of time.
Prep Work
We've all heard it said before - the final product is only as good as the prep work. So the Extreme Audio & Kustoms crew made sure to go into the old paint and body work and begin to repair any fallout, and fix problem areas accordingly. Once the body work was completed and the truck was smooth, the bed was prepped and sprayed with SEM chip guard and black basecoat. With the bedliner duties taken care of, the rest of the truck was prepped and sprayed with two coats of SEM primer. After the primer was dry, more sanding fun and body massaging completed the super-straight surface needed for a black basecoat.
Paint Work
Using SEM Color Horizon products for all the paint work, Matt first sprayed the Tacoma with black basecoat. The SEM products are solvent born and compliant to the new 3.5 VOC paint law in California. With the black laid down and dry, Matt was able to get to the fun stuff. Using fine-line tape he worked out his graphic scheme on the bed, cab, doors, and hood of the Tacoma. With the graphics laid out he sprayed the silver which would serve as the bottom two-tone color and the base coat for the candy graphics.
Interior And Stereo Build
One of the biggest challenges of this rebuild, aside from the fast approaching deadline, was juggling the paint and interior buildups side by side and simultaneously. Moving inside, they don't call him Adam "Hand Made" for nothing. His knuckle tattoo even reads "HAND MADE". Adam worked his magic beginning with building a custom gauge pod to house Dakota Digital gauges in the newly formed instrument cluster. Next, he built a dash mount to house an in-dash TV and control unit for the sound system. Jumping around inside the cab, Adam began to assemble the sub boxes and amp racks. Although, with only a few pictures to show you the progress, this is no easy task. This sort of custom work takes hours and hours of measuring, trial and error, and patience to make sure everything will fit perfectly after its fiberglassed, smoothed, and painted.
Laying Down Some Art
Just like with the audio install, these recap pics makes it look fairly easy, but custom paint work takes a lot of time, patience, and talent. Matt made a ton of skull stencils to help him with the outlines and to ensure that each skull had some diversity. Strapped with his airbrush, he spent hours and hours spraying the black skull graphics that adorn the Tacoma front to back. Each graphic contains a skull at the cusp with a special personality representing different people and special characters of the buildup. The stencils allow for outlining, but the true freehand detail is what really brings each skull to life. The airbrushing is continued throughout the door jambs, and even the tailgate jamb to add that extra little bit of detail to the final product. After many tedious hours of airbrushing, it was finally time for Matt to spray some candy. SEM Color Horizons offers many vibrant colors and candies for one-of-a-kind custom jobs like this. With the paintjob coming together Matt could go now unmask the graphics and finishing stripping the graphic and adding final shadows and detail to give it that 3-D effect. To really go the extra mile, even the frame and suspension was powdercoated, painted, and airbrushed with skulls throughout.
Final Assembly
Matt also painted all the custom interior pieces that Adam built and made sure that the same detail carried into the cab. On schedule with a few more all-nighters left, it was time for the final reassembly. Adam got to work wiring everything and getting the stereo system fitted and mounted. The door panels, dash, electronics, center console, and the rest of the custom interior was assembled and wired for function. The crew worked hard getting everything back together and detailed out. The best part was Gunner, the owner of the Tacoma, had not been allowed to see his truck until it was fully completed. Nothing brings tears to a grown man's eyes quite like the first time he gets to see his dream turned into reality!


Extreme Audio & Kustoms
Riverside, CA 92507


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