Jarod Franklin doesn't believe in wasting time. Jarod, from Lexington, South Carolina, is a student, the founder of Xplicit Kreations Car Club, and works in the family business at the State Farmers Market in South Carolina. At 17, he is already on his third custom vehicle; he started with a pickup truck and then went onto an '01 Nissan Xterra. The Xterra was a natural choice because few of the new sport utility vehicles had been customized, and he wanted to be among the first. His goal was to own a custom vehicle that was capable of winning a major truck show and be featured in a major magazine. As you can see, we are happy to help him achieve at least the second half of his goal. However, the road to glory had a few potholes.

As fate would have it, before Jarod could begin the customizing process, his Xterra was stolen. The theft pushed his timetable back, but deciding to create something good from a bad situation, Jarod used the insurance money to cover the loss and upgrade to an '02 Xterra. To ensure the new vehicle would have adequate performance, as well as a healthy dose of style under the hood, he opted for the V-6 with the factory supercharger, bumping up the horsepower from 170 to 210. Then, making up for lost time, the day he took delivery of the truck, he installed a high-tech alarm system made by The Wall and added a set of Gen-X 22-inch Exxen wheels with Pirelli Scorpion P Zero 295/30R22 tires to replace the 17-inch factory alloy wheels and tires. Since Franklin had been working at a stereo shop for a year, he had also acquired most of the components for his new stereo system at cost.

From there, a four-pronged effort concentrated on upgrading the body, installing a new competition stereo, adding an air suspension system, and designing a custom interior. Richard Wright, of Richard Wright's Body Shop in Lexington, began the bodywork, smoothing the Xterra by eliminating all four door handles, the body moldings, the emblems, the rear wiper and washer, and filling in the original taillights. New high-intensity 10-inch LEDs located in the rear bumper now provide both braking and turn signals for the rear. An elegant House of Kolor Metallic Silver -- accented with Kandy Blue flames and outlined in green -- replaced the original paint. Details like the bumpers, fender flares, front fascia, and roof rack were also color-coordinated to House of Kolor Silver and Blue.

The high-tech stereo dominates the custom interior and took about a month to construct. Shawn Arnold and Wayne Laxton of Ultimate Audio in Lexington accomplished the task, lining the Xterra with Stinger Roadkill sound insulation and creating a unique fiberglass sub enclosure that fills the rear hatch. Franklin chose the 12-inch JL Audio JLW7 subs for their solid sound and clean appearance. Ultimate Audio came up with the design, combining three W7s with four JL amplifiers arranged in a "W" shape. They wired three JL Audio 500/1 amps to the three subs while the fourth amp, a JL 300/4, energizes the speakers in the front stage. A JL Digital Capacitor and a pair of 6-1/2-inch JL component sets were also incorporated into the enclosure, along with four Deep Cycle Stinger batteries, hidden from view. Rounding out the mix, an additional pair of 6-1/2-inch JL component sets were located in the factory door locations and are augmented by individual 3/4-inch tweeters in the windshield pillars, providing a full range of sound from the 1,800-watt system. But audio is only half of the upgrade on this custom SUV.

The Panasonic 9000U head unit incorporates a 7-inch monitor, adding DVD tech to the entertainment package. There are two more, smaller, Audiovox monitors mounted in the sunvisors, a large 13-inch drop-down screen located in the headliner for rear-seat passengers, plus 5-1/4-inch monitors in each of the four headrests. "I've got to have one in every place possible," Franklin told us. "And I plan on having about 23 when I'm finished!" Obviously, audiovisual entertainment is a high priority in Franklin's Xterra.

Mark Hull of Auto Interior Specialists in Sumter, South Carolina, took up where Ultimate Audio left off, stitching the silver and black leather upholstery, and covering the seats, doors, and headliner. For an added touch, neon accents were added to the subs, rear seat area, under the dash, around the pedals, under the truck, and finally on the hood, with the truck sporting a set of blue neon windshield wipers.

All that was left was to bring the truck down to a true show stance. Mr. Scrape Customs, in Sumter, South Carolina, modified the factory front double wishbone and rear dual leaf spring setup, creating a new air suspension using a 10-switch box, Firestone airbags, a Blowjax compressor, and a 6-gallon reserve tank mounted underneath to control the truck's altitude. This combination allows for plenty of ground clearance for occasional off-road adventures, as well as dropping the truck down to a lower custom show profile at the touch of a switch.

With all the changes in place, the completed truck is as driveable as it is good-looking. It has head-turning good looks, a sophisticated sound system, adjustable suspension, and subtle custom body mods. Future plans call for a Lincoln Navigator front end, more electronics, and whatever Jarod can dream up between now and then. We'll be watching.