It should come as no surprise this truck owner has been enveloped in custom cars and trucks for decades. With unique body mods, an elaborate GMC conversion, and subtle touches throughout, this Chevy Avalanche is a crossbreed between the unique styling of a lowrider and the custom touches that make it very much a sport truck. Ralph Fuentes has one of the best and most stressful 9-to-5 jobs on the planet: He's Chief Editor of Lowrider, our sister publication. Now, your thinking: What's a guy used to building '59 Impalas doing owning this awesome example of a Truckin' feature? Simple, the man loves custom. Named the Apache, Ralph's truck is perfect for our inaugural "Mystery Machine" issue, because if you didn't know better you'd be looking for a GMC Avalanche Denali on your local dealership lot.
The '04 Cadillac EXT tailgate was shaved, a '72 Chevy Stepside shortened chrome bumper was
Starting with a Chevy Avalanche, Ralph veered away from the usual Cadillac conversion and went to Merzees Paint and Body in Santa Fe Springs, California, for a unique transformation. Removing the angular Chevy clip, Jeff and his crew at Merzees added an '04 GMC Sierra clip to the truck and then performed some experimentation. A wood panel kit was added to give it an old-school look. After driving around for several months, the wood paneling came off and the truck was re-sprayed in Chevy green. The new look makes you wonder why GMC never made an Avalanche, as the front end is awesome on the Chevy body. Out back, an '04 Cadillac EXT tailgate was shaved and bolted on, with a Chevy SS tailgate spoiler capping it off. Making us scratch our heads as to its origins, the '72 Chevy Stepside rear bumper was shortened, re-chromed, and bolted on. Other custom touches include: the removal of the door locks on the handles; mirrors off of a '93 Cadillac Fleetwood that look right at home on the Avalanche doors; SnugTop rear quarter windows; and, inside the bed, the Avalanche cargo boxes were removed and smoothed using existing panels.
Speaking of the bed, now residing between the rear walls is a beautiful green-tinted Horkey's Show Bed with stainless stringers. A genuine old-school Camaro spare tire kit resides out back, and a '50s Suburban six-lug steel wheel was chromed and installed in a custom notch with a sheetmetal cover in the Avalanche bed. Details and touch-ups were handled by D&D Auto Body and Paint, in Westminster, California.
Inside the massaged Apache, a classy interior abounds with GMC Denali parts everywhere you look. Removal of the stock Chevy wheel provided a new home for the '04 GMC Denali wheel with factory black wood. Other Denali parts inside the truck include the all-in-one center console (with black wood) and all of the factory black wood trim throughout the interior. An Eclipse DVD/Navigation head unit provides entertainment and driving directions while Ralph is listening to tunes provided by a JL Audio five-channel amp pushing two JL Audio subs mounted in the rear midgate. Seven-inch Audiobahn monitors in each front headrest play movies or games from the PlayStation. Mids and highs from those viewed DVDs or games are supplied by JL Audio components. For a view of the Southern California sky, Ralph just needs to look up where a 52-inch Webasto panoramic sunroof is mounted in between the suede headliner. Re-covered factory seats in gray leather and suede completed the interior mods.
Up front: The '04 GMC Sierra front clip looks perfect on the Avalanche body. Ralph used ch
To get the truck at the height Ralph wanted, the Avalanche was delivered to GO-EZ in Placentia, California, for a mild suspension alteration. Using McGaughy's drop spindles up front, Firestone 'bags were set in place of the coils, and the nose was now on the ground. Out back, a McGaughy's rear relocator kit was installed to keep the suspension components closely aligned. Then, GO-EZ welded in a 2-inch C-notch, extended the rear trailing arms, and welded the 'bag mounts in place for a serious rear drop. To keep things lateral, a polished Watts link was added from Totally Polished. A shortened driveshaft was the last modification to get the truck properly laying low. Onboardair.com, from Kilby Enterprises, installed the sweet engine-driven compressor for constant air with 1/2-inch air line and fast valves to finish off the suspension work.
Inside the cab, an Easystreet digital air gauge and switchboard were stealthily mounted in the dash under the head unit. For backup purposes, two Viair compressors were placed underneath the bed in case anything unfortunate should happen. Dropping the Apache down even lower, Ralph swapped the fullsize body mounts in favor of S-10 mounts, basically body-dropping the truck 1-1/4 inches. This is a slick and easy mod that makes a big difference in the overall look.
Stuffing each fender are 24-inch MHT DUB Dirty Dog 6 wheels with 275/30R24 Toyos up front and 295/30R24 out back. Stopping the Avalanche are 15-inch Baer EradiSpeed rotors powdercoated green to match the truck.
Powering the custom rig is a 5.3L equipped with an intercooled MagnaCharger supercharger that is good for more than 350 hp at the wheels. A K&N filter, Gibson headers and muffler, and 4.10 rear gears make the truck haul to the Lowrider offices.
With the truck nearly completed, Ralph finished things off by putting old-school '60 Apache pick-up badges on the tailgate with "Supercharger" script placed right below it to lead on that this truck is more than meets the eye. This truck proves that by melding together two passions, one slick truck can be the end result. Simple and mostly easy-to-find stock GM parts can build one awesome lowrider.