Custom Truck - Gotcha
On the Floor
El Paradoors is gone. The tube chassis is gone. The almost rust-free cab (number 3!) is gone. Two chrome CCE hydraulic pumps, eight 1-inch-diameter rod ends, one 4L80-E Overdrive transmission, a Bulletproof 9-inch rearend, and four 22-inch Intro wheels and Dunlop tires are gone. Four years of my life is gone, stolen by the vilest form of human life I can think of-a common thief. First, the wheels disappeared, and then while the truck sat on blocks, sans rolling stock, outside of a shop in Brea, California, it too disappeared.
Almost ironically, the truck was stolen right before it was time to move it into my new shop. It's my own fault, though. You can't leave a truck like this outdoors, even in a busy industrial complex, and not expect some low-life to drool over parts like those and not come up with some weak-ass plan to make it their own. Lesson learned, and now it's game on. This jackass didn't steal a truck from just anyone. He blew it and exercised his thievery upon a man with a computer, a magazine, and thousands of eagle-eyed readers. He also screwed up by stealing parts from the guy who built them, fabricated 90 percent of the truck, and has just as intimate a relationship with this particular truck as this POS thief does with his tools of a car-stealing trade. I may not get my parts back, but I'll make damn sure the custom community knows what they look like just so this jackass cannot use them.
So, to the guy who ripped me off, I'd like to say one thing: Kiss those parts goodbye, because every custom truck owner from California to New York will now know exactly what you stole.
Let's start with the rear of the 2x4-inch fabricated tube chassis, shall we? The chassis was built by me and my friend Tim Welch. That's a 15-gallon fuel cell from Summit Racing and a pair of Prestolite solenoid blocks mounted to the rear crossmember. If you look close at the top of the 9-inch rearend, you'll notice the FK 1-1/2-inch outside-diameter adjustable rod end inside of the custom pivot mount. That mount is welded, top and bottom, and inside-out to the housing, and to the left of the housing is a sizable divot where some older mounts were burned off the housing with an acetylene torch. Note that the upper wishbone was bent and TIG-welded by my friend A.J. Bowman, and it was unfinished when it was stolen.
Here, you can see the chrome CCE hydraulic pumps. This is an older photo, though, and the pumps now have custom-bent stainless steel hard lines and four black-colored bladder-style accumulators attached to the pumps. Note that the rear hydraulic cylinders are mounted to the outside of the framerails on tubular mounts and to the lower link bars. In this photo, I had yet to build the last section of the frame, where the fuel cell and Odyssey dry cell batteries would mount.
Here are the batteries and fuel cell mounts. Note that the fuel cell is perimeter-mounted from beneath the chassis and uses the stock cell-casing bolts to attach to the frame.
The front suspension of El Paradoors is unique because it started out as a No Limit Engineering front crossmember and tubular control arms, which I adapted my own hydraulic cylinder mounts to. Notice that there are no coil springs here. The 8-inch CCE cylinders are mounted solidly inside of the casings I fabricated, and the entire assembly mounts to the No Limit crossmember with a Delrin bushing and Grade 8 bolt. The bottom of the cylinder mounts to the control arm using a 3/8-inch stainless steel rod end.
The cab came from a '68 OE longhorn-edition pickup. The dashboard was unmolested with all the factory radio and A/C holes intact. The rear wall of the cab has two dents in it from where the bed once smacked into it. The only truly rusty areas on this cab are the rockers, which are dented and need replacing. Otherwise, it's in great shape. Note the old NDBA drag racing sticker in the corner of the back window. I tried to scrape it off, but it's on there good.
This is what stock No Limit arms and polished 12-inch Baer brakes look like. My particular lower control arms now have a crossbar and lower mount for rod ends.
And finally, this is what a 4-year-old set of Intro Vista II wheels and Dunlop 285/30ZR20 tires looks like. Immediately after building my wheels, Intro switched outer hoops and every wheel built after mine has a soft lip on it, instead of the extra lip protruding from the outer edge of the wheel, making this set of wheels unique. The wheels also have a 5x5 Chevy bolt pattern, and two of the wheels have 6-1/2 inches of backspacing and the other two have 5-1/2 inches of backspacing. Also, keep in mind that I set this chassis up to lay the rocker panels of the cab flat on the ground while tucking the 22s. The aftermarket '67 front sheetmetal has all been modified to fit the large wheels. The fenders have been notched at the top, and the hood has been notched underneath the outer edges to keep from hitting the tires. Also, the aftermarket core support is notched at the lower edge to clear the frame. The only stock part on the front end is a vintage white-colored '67 grille shell.
So, there is my pile of missing parts, most of which have been highly modified. If my stolen truck had been a resto job with stock parts, I wouldn't have bothered to print this column. Those types of parts can be sold or reused on any truck. But, as you can see this rocket scientist stole a one-off chassis, wheels, rearend, and so on. Good luck showing up at a truck show or cruise with my parts now, buddy!