The Cadillac Escalade front clip uses a billet grille insert to further change the overall
It's not everyday you see a common workhorse transformed into a prize-winning thoroughbred, or a piece of common coal turned into a glittering diamond. These things, for the most part, do not happen in the real world and, when they do, are almost always accompanied by their associates - trickery, deception, skullduggery, and a highly developed slight-of-hand show played before a backdrop of smoke and mirrors. Having said all of that, let us say that the vehicle on these pages really has been transformed from a mundane, run-of-the-mill, do-it-all hauler to a real showstopper.
So you ask, just how and why did the transformation of this particular '99 Chevrolet Crew Cab take place? It all started when Craig Rowley decided what he really needed to transport his very neat, highly modified '88 Astro van (see feature in Feb. '00 Mini Truckin') was a 24-foot enclosed trailer and a serious Crew Cab dualie tow rig. It wasn't too much later that Craig suffered a severe case of polisher's elbow accompanied by a mild show vehicle burnout virus and retreated from the scene for a brief period of time. Not one to just sit around and watch the world go by, he decided to try his hand at drag racing, and as before, the dualie was pressed into service as the designated tow vehicle. Craig quickly came to terms with the fact that the go-fast obsession was a very expensive compulsion with very little chance of monetary recovery. It was at that point he decided to sell the drag car and return to the truck scene in a big way.
Serving in an advisory capacity, Scott Bullock at Showcase Custom Automotive in St. Louis, helped Craig prepare the big dualie for its return as a featured vehicle, rather than as a towing tool. And as always, the first order of business on the alteration agenda was getting it to sit right. After all, if you don't establish the right attitude in the beginning, it really doesn't matter what you do from there. To get this process headed in the right direction, Kevin Holland and Konfused Kustoms in Gulfport, Mississippi, installed Air Ride Technologies airbags at all four corners and a bridge at the rear to get the big guy down on the ground. Because Craig wanted to be able to move the ride height up and down rapidly, he decided to secure a couple of nitrogen tanks in the rear portion of the 8-foot bed rather than a large compressor and several auxiliary air tanks. Then, to complement the low-down look, a full set of APP 19-inch wheels from Bantz Custom Wheel encased in Toyo rubber was installed at all four corners.
Of course, having the right attitude means that you should have the power to back up whatever image you decide to portray. In this case, that meant making a few tweaks to the factory-installed 454ci engine. A computer programmer was added, as were a pair of JBA headers, Dynomax mufflers, a K&N filter system, some 4.10:1 gears, a set of underdrive pulleys, and just for that extra margin of excess required by any self-respecting ex-racer, a 125hp ZEX nitrous system. All of these little adjustments brought the estimated power up to a respectable 400 hp and made it possible for the big rig to pass through the quarter-mile in 15.1 seconds at 91 mph. Not bad for a heavyweight dualie with the frontal area of a small building.