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Custom Truck Facelift

Resurrecting a tired-looking custom truck

Before and After

The shelf life of a custom truck - much like the shelf life of a supermodel - is short at best. In fact, when you think about it, it’s funny how the custom truck world parallels the world of high fashion. One minute you’re the hottest thing on the block, gracing the pages of magazines, getting noticed wherever you go and being envied by your peers – and the next minute, you’re searching for ways to maintain your looks and keep yourself in the game.

To beat the odds and stand the test of time, you have to be willing to change. If you’re a supermodel, you might consider a trip to the plastic surgeon where a snip ‘n lift here and a nip ‘n tuck there can add years to your career. However, when you’re a custom truck, you must turn to an expert build team. That’s exactly what the marketing group at Stylin’ Trucks did when they decided to breathe new life into their 1999 Chevy Silverado. Instead of calling a doctor; they called together a meeting of the truck experts known as the Stylin’ Trucks Build Team and compiled a list of awesome truck accessories to outfit the truck with.

The Lift
A mere six years old, Stylin’s once cutting-edge show truck was looking tired, out-dated and no longer illustrated the company’s position as a trend-setting accessory retailer. They were looking for a radical change. For starters, the trucks lowered suspension was to be torn out completely and replaced with an equally extreme lifted suspension system.

The build team opted for a 6” lift system to give the truck the aggressive stance they were looking for. With the truck up on the lift and the wheels off, the team began by unloading the torsion bars using a torsion bar removal tool and removing the stock cross member and bars (Fig 1). Next, the lower control arms, shocks and factory bump stops were removed and discarded; followed by the disconnection and removal of all the factory brake lines, calipers and rotors (Fig 2).

Remove cross member.
1. After carefully removing the torsion bars, the factory cross member is removed and discarded.
Front brakes are removed.
2. The front brake rotors and calipers are removed and the brake lines disconnected.

Next, the front axles were removed from the differential housing and the upper control arms were carefully removed and set aside. The stock steering knuckles were then removed and discarded. Then, the lower control arms and differential skid plate were removed and the front drive shaft and electrical connections were disconnected from the differential housing. Now, the team was finally able to remove the front differential and trim the appropriate portions of the differential frame mounts and differential housing to prepare for its relocation (Fig 3-4).

Trimming the frame.
3. A small portion of the frame is trimmed away where the front differential was mounted.
Cutting the differential.
4. The stock differential must be trimmed to prepare for it's relocation to the new cross member.

The Bolt-On
New lifted cross member installed.
5. With everything trimmed and ready to go, the team is ready to install the new cross member.
With the majority of the disassembly complete and the appropriate modifications made, the team was ready to begin bolting on the new parts and reassembling the front suspension. First, the new front differential mount was bolted into place followed by the cross-member drop down mount (Fig 5). The new heavy-duty cross member and the front suspension bars were carefully fitted and bolted into place. Now, the team was ready to begin reassembling the suspension.

A Boost in Front
The team started by reinstalling the newly modified front differential to the new mounting brackets. Next, the lower control arms were bolted into place and the new steering knuckles were added with the stock hubs pre-assembled to the steering knuckle/spindle. Instead of reinstalling the stock rotors and calipers, the team took this opportunity to upgrade the front brakes using Baer’s Alumasport 14” slotted and cross-drilled rotors and calipers to gain superior brake performance, reduced fade and better stopping distance with the large wheel and tire package the team has planned for the truck.

Baer Brakes installed on the front.
6. Once the cross member is in place, it's time to bolt everything back together and add the Baer brakes.

For the final phase of the front install, the team reinstalled the front axle and reattached all the necessary vacuum and electrical lines to the newly relocated differential. Next, the new front shocks were bolted in place. Finally, the torsion bars were reassembled, adjusted and the entire process was repeated for the other side of the truck (Fig 6).

A Rear Boost
For the rear suspension lift, the team began by removing and discarding the rear U-bolts, shocks and blocks. Next, the new add-a-leafs were added to the original spring pack and the rear lift blocks were bolted in place using the new, longer U-bolts and hardware. Finally the new shocks and bump stops were added, and the entire process was repeated for the other side of the vehicle (Fig 7-8).

Lifting Blocks.
7. Here, you can see the rear blocks and new add-a-leaf bolted to the stock rear suspension.
Baer Brakes added to the rear.
8. We complete this install by adding Baer brakes to the rear of the truck and cleaning up the rust.

New Treads
With the 6” lift complete at all four corners, the team was ready to bolt on the new American Racing wheels wrapped in the aggressive tread of Pro Comp’s X-terrain radial tires. These tires were designed for maximum traction both on road and in snow, rocks and mud; yet they still provide quiet running for highway driving. To properly accent these aggressive tires, the team added a set of Bushwacker pocket flares that are designed to provide the look of bolt-on flares, but install using a revolutionary no-drill, clamp-on system. These flares are also designed to provide an additional 3” of tire coverage to prevent damage to the truck’s finish.

Fresh Face
To provide a fresh face for the front of the truck, the Stylin’ team added a Street Scene SS style bumper cover and the bold, clean look of a Street Scene chrome speed grille. The chrome grille is a great choice for an on-road/off-road truck like this one because the easy-to-clean finish will wipe clean with no need to polish.

To give the truck a bold purr and high performance edge, the Stylin’ team added a pair of Dynatech headers, complete with a high-flow, stainless steel catalytic converters. This powerful header system adds horsepower and an aggressive sound that’s sure to get this truck noticed. From the cat-back the crew added a straight-through Corsa exhaust system. Corsa manufactures its systems using the highest quality mandrel-bent stainless steel pipe for uninterrupted exhaust flow and maximum corrosion resistance.

The Look
With the suspension, style and performance elements complete, it was time to focus on the finish of the truck. After kicking around some paint schemes and ideas, the Stylin’ marketing team remembered back to the elaborate vinyl wrapped trucks they had seen at the SEMA show in Las Vegas. They immediately got in touch with Troy Downey at ApeWraps, and the began working out a one-of-a-kind graphic for the truck. They decided on a futuristic blue and silver theme designed to send the truck’s style into the stratosphere.

Spray-on bed liner.
9. A color-matched spray-on bed liner is added.

Stylin’ decided to have ApeWraps come out and wrap the truck during Stylin’ Trucks High & Low truck show to let some of the spectators see first hand this amazing and truly unique process. But, before the truck was wrapped Stylin’ sent the truck to Permatech who shot the bed of the truck with a unique blue bed liner that they custom color-matched to a swatch of the vinyl wrap (Fig 9).

ApeWraps laid out in order.
10. The ApeWraps vinyl is laid out and ready to install on the truck.

ApeWraps arrived the day before the show to begin wrapping the truck. As promised, they cleaned up the finishing details during the show to the amazement of the Stylin’ crew and show spectators (Fig 10-13). It’s truly remarkable what a transformation this truck made in just a few weeks time. In fact, when you look at the before and after shots, it’s hard to believe it’s the same truck. This just goes to show you; if you have a tired-looking sport truck, it may just have a little life left in it after all. So get to work, we’ll look forward to seeing you in the future…

ApeWrap installation begins.
11. The new finish begins to take shape.
Finishing the rear of the cab.
12. The wrap is smoothed over the rear of the cab.
  Smoothing the bubbles.
13. The ApeWraps team stretches the vinyl over the roof of the truck and carefully removes all bubbles.

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