If you're in the business of grading and building roads, then you had better not be afraid to pound the pavement in your custom weekend ride. That's why Raul Ocampo, a civil engineer from Mission Viejo, California, turns out one custom ride after another. He figures that there is no more fun or better way to test the quality and comfort of his roads than to cruise them in the slammed custom trucks that he builds. Moreover, the quality of his rides, without a doubt, rivals that of the highways and byways he builds. Just take a look at the 'bagged and tribal graphic-covered '99 Tahoe that was featured on Truckin's Apr. 2000, cover. Raul's goal this time around was to use all of the same ingredients he has been so successful with in the past and take them a step further. However, his sons decided that this time he should start with a '99 Chevy Astro van.

Smoothing Out the Bumps in a Wild Ride!

The first task at hand was to get the Astro as close to one of Raul's freshly paved roads as possible. Ballistic Motorsports of Mission Viejo began the massive drop by first replacing the stock spindles with 2-inch dropped units from Belltech. The springs were pulled to make room for the Firestone 2600C airbags, and Belltech shocks were relocated to smooth out the bumps when traveling on someone else's roads. The rear of the van first received a super C-notch before matching Firestone 'bags and Belltech shocks were installed. Half-inch lines were run to the two compressors, and two 3-gallon tanks were located in place of the spare tire.

Raul chose 20x8-inch KMC Venom wheels to fill out the wheelwells and wrapped them with Nitto Extreme Force tires with P245/40ZR20 measurements. The engine compartment remains stock so that Raul can make the long treks worry-free, however, a few high-performance goodies were thrown in for good measure. A K&N air intake kit was used to flow more air and a Hypertech reprogrammer was installed. A Bassani dual after-cat exhaust was also bolted up and features a total of four megaphone-style tips exiting from below the center of the rear bumper.

The next stop for the slammed and powerful-sounding Astro was Starbucks, where the crew got busy on Raul's tall order of body mods. For starters, all of the door handles were shaved as was the license plate box. The stock taillights were shaved and filled, and two wedge-shaped lenses were flush-mounted into the bottom corners of the cargo doors.

The rest of the body was also smoothed to perfection before the cat-eye grille, the bumpers, the side skirts, and the Down Force rear wing were installed, all courtesy of California Customs USA. Street Scene mirrors were also installed, before heading down to Vales Kustom Colors in Stanton, California, where Dick Vales custom-mixed batches of purple, orange, fuchsia, green, white, and gold.

The upper half of the Astro begins with white that fades down into the bright gold. Next, the purple was laid down over the front and bottom areas of the van, rising in a scallop-like pattern. The center area was airbrushed in a green, reptilian-like pattern, followed by a set of flames that fade from orange to fuchsia. Finally, the entire creation was pinstriped in contrasting colors and buried in multiple coats of clear.

With a paint scheme this wild, Raul knew he had to have an interior to match. The Astro's next stop was Seatcrafters in Buena Park, California, where anything covered in material was stripped to make room for the multicolored suede and leather inserts. The stock seats were refinished in gray leather, matching the stock gray carpet and the dash, and featuring yellow piping and purple and orange flames. The door panels also received yellow piping and orange flames, as well as the headliner. A flamed billet steering wheel from Colorado Custom was also wrapped in gray leather and installed along with a billet column shifter.

Raul then turned his attention to the entertainment portion of the interior and brought the now more-colorful-than-ever Astro to its final stop at Audio Fonix in Laguna Niguel, California, for the killer audio and video setup. The staff began with a Pioneer AVX-P7300 DVD/ CD player mated to a Pioneer six-disc DVD/CD changer located under the driver seat. The head unit also controls the two 5-inch monitors mounted on the visors and the huge 13-inch monitor that provides entertainment to the passengers sitting in the back. The thump is provided by a pair of Kicker amps mounted into the rear doors, which produce a total of 1,000 watts of power to feed the two 12-inch Kicker L7 subwoofers mounted in the floor of the rear cargo area. The amps also provide power to the two 6x9-inch and the two 6-1/2-inch Kicker mids accompanied by a tweeter and a crossover in each of the doors and the side panel.

Raul has again managed to build an outrageous custom truck in less than a year, and since its April completion, has already managed to pick up a handful of trophies. Raul would like to thank everyone who helped on his latest project and his wife Maria and sons for taking an interest in our sport. More importantly, we should remember to thank Raul next time we're flying down his smooth-as-silk highways an inch off the ground with all the confidence of a 4x4. It makes him proud.