There are custom truck enthusiasts, and there are possessed custom truck enthusiasts. Once bitten by the bug, it seems to consume its victims, becoming an obsession that is with them 24/7. Its venom is potent with no antidote for a cure. During our younger years in school, they call it daydreaming if you had these tendencies. Then your weakened immune system was no challenge for the dominating obsession. The enthusiast venom sometimes has a delayed reaction on its victims. Once bitten, it might take time to get you, but when it does, you're at its mercy.

Phil Rush from Thousand Oaks, California, was bitten at a young age. He began building custom trucks when he was a teenager -- even before he acquired a driver's license. Many of his previous creations were seen between the covers of both Truckin' and Mini Truckin'. Rush designed and built a 2000 Ford Taurus Wagon concept vehicle for Ford Motor company, which was showcased at the 2000 SEMA Show in Las Vegas. Currently, Rush, owner of Relaxed Customs, is involved in many projects for his customers, assisted by his son Brian who is responsible for all of the interior stitchwork.

His latest creation is a '98 Dodge Durango, which was supposed to be the family driver and the occasional tug for his other show vehicles. But not able to leave well enough alone, everything that Rush owns on wheels was taken apart and modified -- just ask his wife Sherrie. The success of a crazed, customizer many times comes from an understanding wife or girlfriend.

To obtain the Stage I lowered stance, an Air Lift airbag system was installed. Later, the present Stage II Firestone Ride Rite airbags were installed on all four corners, allowing Rush to drag, scrape, and lay frame. The more radical Stage II used stock spindles up front and removed the overload leaf springs in the rear with lowered KYB shocks. The frame was

C-notched in the rear, allowing proper rearend and frame clearance. When the airbags are deflated, the wheels will tightly tuck up inside the fenders, resting the frame and rockers on the ground. The air system is composed of two 3-gallon airlift air tanks with 3/8-diameter lines that are routed from air tanks to each airbag, then to the airlift solenoids. The airlift control panel switches activate the bags. This sano installation was performed by Max Fish and Joe McCluskey of BIO Kustoms in Hemet, California.The stock ABS brake system was used with discs up front and drums in the rear for ample stopping power. Toyo Proxes FZ4 235/40-18 rubber is mounted on a set of KMC Shark 18x7.5 zero-offset wheels, presenting an aggressive look.

Underneath the hood is a stock-appearing 360ci Magnum V-8 that was enhanced by a set of powdercoated Gibson headers with a 3-inch-diameter Gibson after-cat exhaust system that flows into a Flowmaster muffler. To obtain increased airflow, a Billet Specialties intake was installed. To increase the computer's performance, a JET Technologies' hi-performance chip was installed. These bolt-on components developed a 100hp gain -- from the stock 230 hp to 330 hp. A pair of polished aluminum valve covers from Mopar and Autiobahn Warehouse supplied the polished aluminum air cleaner, oil breathers, power steering, and radiator cap covers. The billet aluminum master cylinder and ABS covers are from Empire Motor Sports.

The Polishing Shop is responsible for the polished intake A/C unit, the brackets, the power steering, and the powdercoated engine parts. The Cool Flex chrome heater and radiator lines came from Performance. Spectre covered the radiator hoses with its stainless steel braided hose covers with red-anodized hose ends and bolt cap covers. An Optima deep-cycle battery with a Scosche EFX capacitor is found in the engine compartment, while the other Optima Scosche EFX capacitor is located in the rear stereo cabinet.

A modest interior with a beautiful Nu-Dash woodgrain composite dash, console, and door accent kit was installed. To create some contrast, an APC white-face gauge panel with a polished aluminum dash insert was added. The suede and leather gray seats, the gray carpet, and the headliner maintain a mellow dcor.

There is a serious Nakamichi sound system receiver with speakers, an amp, and a CD changer. Subwoofers, an Audiovox VCR, an amp, and an Optima battery were installed in a custom enclosure built by Phantom Electronics.

To acquire the dramatic external presence, the team at Paintin' Place in Thousand Oaks removed the roof rack and shaved all the body emblems and the front fenders. A Goodmark cowl-induction hood and an A&A body kit front air dam, rear pan, and side rocker panels were installed, creating that ground effect appearance. A Stillen billet grille insert was swapped with the stock grille. The body was sprayed with PPG Light Driftwood Metallic and a layer of clearcoat. APC Euro clear headlights and taillights replaced the stock lights.

Rush is a firm believer in driving his custom rides, which is half the fun of buildin' them. Guys who only build to show are missing the true experience of our hobby. Trailer queens are just that - trailer queens. You may as well leave it on the trailer and enter it in a parade. If you've got it, drive it.