We have all experienced it - building our first custom truck. After attending a few custom truck shows, we were exposed to Custom Truck Fever. Some folks catch it and some don't, but once it gets in your blood, it's there forever, with no cure. This vicious virus seems to possess its victims 24-7, causing them to constantly think of what grille, taillights, airbags, wheels, or tires go with the smooth shaved look, stock/mild custom buildup, paint schemes, flames, graphics, two-tones, or many other combinations.

On these pages, you will witness the outrageous rookie effort of Matt Spence from The Woodlands, Texas. This '00 Ford Expedition took Spence two years to complete. His efforts were encouraged by his very understanding wife Crystal. Very often, behind every custom-truck-crazed enthusiast is very good woman. A married couple that enjoys the building and showing journey together, stays together.

The buildup started with a complete Air Ride Technologies 'bagged suspension, which was installed by Bill Carlton, at Ekstensive Metal Works in Houston. The capability of the pneumatic system allows the flamed Expedition to display its athleticism and flexibility. The framerails were C-notched in the rear to allow the axlehousing to get full negative travel when lowered. The front lower ball joints were replaced with Chevrolet ball joints, allowing the lower control arm to be positioned above the ball joint. The upper control arm pickup point brackets were cut off the framerails and relocated 2-1/2 inches above the factory location, maintaining the factory suspension geometry. This configuration acts like a 2-1/2-inch drop spindle.

The rear suspension was simple. Carlton removed the coil springs and installed the Air Ride airbags, and the rear suspension link system pickup points were re-angled. Tucking a set of 23-inch Veloche chrome wheels neatly wrapped in Pirelli Scorpion P305/30R23 rubber on all four corners provided both smooth styling and handling performance.

Opening the Keystone Cobra hood exposes the factory 4.6L V-8, which has attracted some performance bolt-ons, including an AIRAID air intake with throttle body booster, a computer chip, and a 3-inch Flowmaster exhaust system, which serve to give Spence a swift kick in the butt and the sound of authority.

All the factory badges and emblems were removed, along with the third brake light. A steel roll pan was inserted, welded, and smoothed by Extensive Metal Works. The body mods were performed by the craftsman at Kustom Werx Body and Paint in Conroe, Texas. Pat Maxwell, of Maxwell Designs, is responsible for the incredible stock E9 Tri-Coat red paint. Then, Maxwell sprayed a set of insane positive/negative wispy platinum flames, bordered in light-blue pinstripe and drop-shadowed with charcoal black. How about the rear taillights being painted the body color? Rare, but cool.

To add to the Ford's venom, a Keystone Cobra hood was also installed. The Trenz custom billet grille replaced the factory piece, and the factory grille shell was painted to match the body. The front bumper was smoothed and painted to match the body color, along with the door handles. Up front, the factory Expedition headlights were swapped out for a pair of Ford Lightning crystalline headlights.