Truck shows can draw a great variety of vehicles -- SUVs, minis, and classics make appearances, with a mix of lifted and lowered suspensions. With this much variation on the truck modification theme, it's no surprise that people with other vehicles would want to be part of the fun as well. John Pylypiec, from Cohoes, New York, caught the truck-building bug five years ago.
After seeing the custom creations on display at the truck shows he attended, John wanted to combine his need for a vehicle and his desire to build something unique. He bought the vehicle he needed, an '00 Chevy Express van, and put his energy to making his fullsize awesome. While it's not unusual to see a lot of fullsizes at a truck show, it is unusual to see one that is a van, and more unusual than that, one that is fully adapted to its driver's paralysis.
Admittedly, when most of us think of a handicapped-equipped van, we usually don't picture one as cool as this. But it is both good-looking and functional, with an electric lift, electric side doors, and an airplane's electronic throttle and braking system. These all work well with the six-way adjustable power driver's seat to make the interior of this van work to John's specifications.
Of course, function is not all that is involved in this van's interior. The front seats were covered in custom black tweed with green flames, and the door panels were done with green flames to match. Bill's of New York, based in Scotia, also replaced the stock headliner with soft black cloth and installed black Porsche 911 carpet on the floor. Flames are a running theme with this van, and appear also on the custom-made shifter, the rearview mirror, and the cigarette lighter. The Colorado Customs steering wheel is also enveloped in flames.
On the entertainment side, the rear of the van is partially taken up by a custom enclosure, built by Jeff Wheeler in Amsterdam, New York, which houses 12 12-inch JL Audio subwoofers. The subs are powered by an Audio Art 100NC amp. There are 6-1/2-inch mids and tweeters in the van's front doors and in the pillars, which are powered by a JBL 290 amp. The system is controlled through an Eclipse 7001 head unit. Jeff Wheeler installed all of the mobile electronics, including the Sony PS1 and Toshiba DVD player.
Do not think for a moment that the interior is the most impressive part of this vehicle. The van, aptly named Slow Burn, was given a smokin' paintjob after the body was smoothed out. Street Dreamz, in Schenectady, New York, shaved the door handles, antenna, and original mirrors, and put a custom roll pan in the rear. The company also installed two 35x42-inch power ragtops. Street Dreamz frenched in the rear license plate and installed Harley-Davidson mirrors. Mac the Knife, in Glenns Falls, New York, gave the black van its PPG green, purple, and silver flames.
John wanted this van to have show-quality looks, so he also went to work on the chassis and the van's suspension. The chassis was C-notched and Street Dreamz put Pro Hopper hydraulics on the Chevy. It now lies on the ground, having been lowered 10 inches. The shop also installed Pro Hopper coil springs in the front and a custom-built reversed triangulated setup in the rear. The van rides on 18x8-inch Lexani wheels and 235/40R18 Falkens. To add a deep, throaty growl to the van, a 3-inch Flowmaster exhaust was added to the back of the V-8 engine.
John built this van for a couple of reasons. First, he wanted to have a custom vehicle that he could enjoy. Second, he wanted to show people that, as he explains, "Anyone can be in this sport, and you can do anything if you put your heart into it." His rewards have been numerous: he's won 10 First Place awards at shows in his area of the country. John also has the pleasure of knowing that the very first custom truck he ever built has been a blue-ribbon winner, showing just how much heart he really did put into this project.