Whenever a new body-style pickup is introduced to the public, it doesn't take custom truck enthusiasts and builders very long to get their hands on these new machines, hammer their frames to the earth, shave their bodies clean, and brighten their exteriors with loud and obnoxious paint schemes.
Every year at the annual SEMA Show in Las Vegas, automotive aftermarket parts companies show off their latest custom wears to generate further interest in their company and its products from other enthusiasts. One way companies successfully market their products at SEMA is by building project vehicles to grace their booth, which feature a multitude of products the company itself produces.
Many automotive aftermarket parts companies are busting knuckles weeks before the show to complete yearlong projects, which must make an appearance to achieve the marketing and promotional goals originally set forth. While most companies invest their own time and energy into completing an in-house project for SEMA, some try to promote their product on as many vehicles as possible at the show and will seek out independent builders of show rides, which create the perfect backdrop for their product.
This past year at SEMA, the new '03 Dodge Ram seemed to be the truck of choice for enthusiasts to execute all their wild and crazy ideas upon. One example in particular caught the keen eye of the Truckin' staff enough for it to be captured for the cover of this month's issue.
Steve Bucaro, or "Wheels" as he is referred to by his friends, got together with the head honchos at DaimlerChrysler to lay out plans to create a frame-laying, fully shaved, 24-inch-rim-stuffing, bright-orange '03 Ram for the 2002 SEMA Show in Las Vegas.
After reviewing the project targets and catching a glimpse of Bucaro's 'bagged and shaved bright-yellow '99 Ram, the executives at Chrysler decided to toss a set of keys to an '03 Ram to Wheels and see what he could do. Using some of the most talented individuals in the business, Wheels began to turn his concept from paper to a low-rolling reality.
The first stop on the customizing tour was at Devious Customs in Ontario, California, where owner Jeff Davy pulled out all the stops to lay the truck out hard over a set of 24-inch rims and rubber. First, a call was placed to the Air Lift Company to get a hold of most of the adjustable suspension components needed to hammer the contemporary Mopar to the earth.
A few days passed and a big brown truck arrived at Devious with boxes of product from Air Lift, including four 2B7 Extreme 'bags, two reserve air tanks, a 1/2-inch air line, and two Viair 450 compressors. Jeff began cutting, notching, and relocating, and ended up fabricating custom front A-arms, bridge-notching the rear framerails, and installing a Devious Customs rear four-link to complete the suspension structure.
Next, the Air Lift 2B7 Extreme 'bags were mounted forward and aft, and plumbed with 1/2-inch line and 1/2-inch Devious electric valves. For reserve air, the truck uses one 3-gallon and one 5-gallon air tank; the air supply is replenished by two Viair 450 compressors. The ride is cushioned further by Belltech Nitro Active shocks front and rear.
Since the truck was destined to wear an extra-large set of rims and rubber, Jeff welded in a set of wheeltubs from Grant Fabrication in the bed to provide clearance for the rear 24-inch rollers, which would eventually occupy the hollow space inside the front and back fenders.
To gain more room under the truck, the original gas tank was ditched in favor of a 20-gallon fuel cell from No Limit Engineering. Devious Customs performed the necessary modifications to install the fuel cell and make it functional with a custom filler neck in the bed.
After a whole lot of notching, cutting, relocating, and fabricating, the crew at Devious mounted up the 24x10-inch Oasis Gothic chrome wheels encased in BFGoodrich P305/35ZR24 tires and aired the truck out. All the work was worth it the moment the fenderwells swallowed up the massive 24s and the rails successfully hit the tarmac.
After Jeff finished dialing in the suspension, a few tricks were performed on the Dodge's skin before it was turned over to professional custom painter Steve Deman, who applied the PPG Butterscotch Orange hue kicked off with the unique custom graphic treatment.
Since Wheels is paralyzed, the rear driver-side door was suicided by Devious, to allow for easy storage and access of his custom wheelchair. After the driver-side door was successfully reversed for easy access, the truck was sent to Troy Ullola at Infamous in Ontario, California, where the majority of the metal surgery was performed.
Once the truck was behind the doors of Infamous, Troy busted out his welder and shaved the door handles and the factory antenna, while also molding in a Sir Michaels roll pan. The tailgate handle was shaved using a Sir Michaels handle relocator kit, and the fenders and bed sides were flared slightly to accommodate the massively tall and wide 24-inch Oasis Gothic chrome wheels.
Once Troy finished the rough bodywork, the truck was delivered to Steve Deman of Deman Custom Paint in Chino, California, to iron out the wrinkles and cover the truck from roof to rocker and nose to tail in an eye-appealing custom orange. After Deman, or "Peewee" as he is often called, received the truck, the bodywork was completed by his overseas friend Masa from Chiba, Japan, along with shop helper Ed McGrath and Marcel Venable from Line-X Spray-On Truck Bedliners.
Once Steve was satisfied with the smoothness of the metal, it was time to execute the original butterscotch-orange concept, complete with an engine-turned aluminum stripe thought up by Venable Koncepts.
Since this truck was destined to go to SEMA and make quite a splash with Mopar enthusiasts, PPG representatives Mark Rapson and Jim Downey were contacted to obtain the paint necessary to cover the truck in the aggressive and bright-orange hue.
Using Steve's paint connection Dave Findley at Finish Master in Hawthorne, California, and through the approval of PPG, gallons of paint were picked up and the spray booth was prepped for the Dodge's transformation from primer-spotted eyesore to butterscotch-orange beauty.
After mixing the one-off custom Butterscotch Orange pearl candy hue, Steve Deman loaded up his paint gun and made the Dodge's metal come alive, as several coats were applied over the entire truck. Completion of the basecoat led to execution of the subtle graphic enhancement laid out in a simple engine-turned silver leaf stripe highlighted by one-shot red pinstriping.
Once again, Steve Deman's painting and artwork talents came into play with the application of the eye-appealing graphics. Wishing to match the inside of the bed to the outside of the truck, Marcel Venable of Line-X Spray-On Truck Bedliners had his technicians custom-mix an orange Line-X hue to go perfectly with the truck's butterscotch-orange exterior. All the work was worth it the moment the fenderwells swallowed up the massive 24s and the rails successfully hit the tarmac.
Laid flat on the ground, stuffing 24-inch Oasis Gothic wheels, and coated in a bright PPG
Before construction of Another 48 Hours began, Wheels had built a custom bright-yellow '99
Although Steve Bucaro is paralyzed, his condition doesn't slow him down a bit. This energe
When this truck gets driven, Wheels never hesitates to hammer the throttle and open up the
The gorgeous PPG Butterscotch Orange laid down by Steve Deman, of Deman Custom Paint, make
Stitchcraft Interiors in Huntington Beach, California, cut loose on the insides of Another
The door panels were treated to the same class and fabric style as the seats. The folks at
Letting the sunshine in is a custom electric ragtop installed by American Sunroof.
Enhancing the dash face is an Accele Electronics 7-inch in-dash monitor and a custom gauge
To allow Wheels to pilot the Ram, custom hand controls by Wells-Engberg were installed by
Rear seat entertainment is made possible by Accele Electronics 5.8-inch monitors sunken in
Conveniently mounted gauges make monitoring the Air Lift suspension easy.
Custom color-matched Line-X covers the custom wheeltubs and notch cover made by Devious Cu
Tucked neatly under the front and back fenders are 24x10-inch Oasis Gothic chrome wheels s
The front end is enhanced with a Street Scene front bumper and Trenz Manufacturing billet
An Amp Research-brushed aluminum gas door lends some extra character to the driver side of
Out back, the engine-turned silver leaf stripe pinstriped in one-shot red continues on the
With the stance nailed and the body spiced up with a host of modifications and trick paint, it was time to dive headfirst into the truck's interior and create a look that would complement the exterior. Cleaning up the area between the doors of this bright butterscotch-orange beauty was none other than Steve "Revo" Reeves from Stitchcraft Custom Interiors in Huntington Beach, California.
Obtaining a host of carbon-fiber material from Mike Sutton of Enduratex Vinyls in Fullerton, California, Revo got down on the threads by sewing up the seats with an eye-catching blend of black and silver carbon-fiber complemented by bright-orange vinyl. For a little extra kick, the seats were trimmed in orange piping, which helps the bold centers jump out when the truck is in full-show mode.
Just as Stitchcraft sewed together the classy and award-winning interior, they also demonstrated the same level of quality craftsmanship when assembling and installing the custom audio/video system. Out back, the cab is filled with a custom-built speaker box housing four Kicker L7-series 8-inch subwoofers and a host of Kicker amplifiers to feed the audio fire.
Hidden in the doors is a collection of Kicker mids and highs to fill in the blanks between all the bass in Wheels' musical selections, while an Xbox game system allows him to play his favorite games at the shows. Popping out of the dash is an Accele Electronics 7-inch monitor for front passenger entertainment.
Rear passengers are not left out in the cold, since the back of the front seat headrests are occupied by Accele Electronics 5.8-inch monitors for rear-seat viewing pleasure. As if that were not enough TVs, Wheels also had Stitchcraft install 5.6-inch monitors in the sunvisors. Housed under the front seats is an Accele Electronics DVD and CD player unit to keep everything running in perfect order.
Creating a unique custom pickup in a short amount of time is a difficult task to achieve. This project truly would not have been possible without the dedication and hard work of folks such as Steve Deman of Deman Custom Paint, Ed McGrath, Marcel Venable of Line-X Spray-On Truck Bedliners, Jeff Davy of Devious Customs, and Steve Reeves from Stitchcraft Custom Interiors. Wheels also thanks Meguiar's, Oakley Hunter Dodge, The Car Wash, and Eastside Muffler for their contributions to the project. This stands to be one of the most radical Rams currently on the show scene.
Only time will tell if Wheels can top the looks of this rim-tucking, pavement-dragging, butterscotch-orange beauty.