Arriving at a local show with his new Escalade sporting 22s, Mike Halterman of Antelope, California, thought he was the big daddy of the event. After all, he did have a $50,000 SUV, big wheels, and exclusivity. But, after he quickly realized how much time and money luxury SUV owners were pouring into their rides, Mike knew more had to be done in order to steal the limelight and put it back onto his prized ride. Collecting his thoughts, making contacts with some influential people, and saving some money allowed him to start on his dream project. And the rest, as they say, is history.

Mike began the search for top-notch installers to spice up his Escalade and turn the heads of every judge at the show. A phone call was placed to Paradyme Car Audio of Sacramento to build a system that would both shake the earth and bring a smile to the faces fortunate enough to gaze at the Caddy. After the extensive list of modifications were ordered, the crew at Paradyme installed a 6-inch Pioneer monitor and DVD player, an 8-inch screen flush-mounted into the dash, and two 6-inch Pioneer monitors in the front headrests. Replacing the passenger-side air bag is a PlayStation 2, and resting between the seats in the middle row is an Xbox, complete with a video switcher for multiple viewing, gaming, and entertainment. Located inside the center console of the front seats is a TV tuner, amp output gauge, and Pioneer 12-disc changer.

With the insane video system wired and dialed in, the team at Paradyme turned their focus to the audio side of the install. The front kick panels are now stuffed with a complete set of 6-inch components by Kicker, and the factory speakers were replaced by Kicker coaxials. Mike requested that the third-row seat stay put, and after accepting the challenge, a custom plexiglass, wood, and leather enclosure and amp rack was designed. Housing three Kicker Solobaric L-7 10-inch subs, the custom box also houses three Kicker amps, two Lightning Audio capacitors, and a backup battery. Covering the enclosure is Nuance leather, which features a custom-cut Escalade script with blue StreetGlow neon for a dramatic nighttime effect. Now Mike's Caddy had plenty of interior custom touches, but still lacked the exterior goodies for show placement.

Contacting Steve and Phil at Fender Bender International, Mike requested another tall order. He wanted to 'bag the Escalade and retain the all-wheel-drive unit. After four months of R&D, and plenty of prototypes, the Caddy left the shop with a complete airbag setup, while still retaining all-wheel drive. DJM Suspension upper and lower control arms were bolted into place for a mild drop, then custom airbag mounts were fabricated for the front and rear. The factory four-link was reworked, the front frame was notched for clearance, and a custom chassis brace was installed under the hood. Controlling the system is a billet eight-pin Blitzluft switchbox, which sends signals to two Thomas 355 compressors extracting air from two 7-gallon tanks mounted in a cage inside the spare-tire compartment. All of this heavy-duty gear brings the Escalade up and down with ease and quickness. Tucking the 22s was easy, but Mike wanted more.

A chance meeting with George, one of the owners of Gen X wheels, saw a joint business venture between Mike's Caddy and one of the newest wheels in Gen X's lineup. On went a set of 24-inch Gen X Fushions, wrapped in P305/35R24 Kumho rubber, giving the Escalade a whole new look and attitude it lacked with the 22s. Loving the new look but still not satisfied, Mike dropped off the luxury SUV with experienced painter James Cashman, at Cashman Customs. As Mike describes, "He modified my original design with his own artistic genius." James laid down several coats of House of Kolor True Blue with Turquoise Metallic flake and Purple Pearl, complete with Millennium Silver tribal flames. Dark-blue pinstriping keeps everything in order, and for a little more flair, Cadillac crests were airbrushed on the flames. Continuing with the exterior modifications, a Trenz billet grille was installed, and chrome tow hooks were bolted in place.

Adding more power to the custom mix comes from a Volant cold-air intake and a Flowmaster exhaust system. Competing at shows has now become much more fun because his Escalade takes home plenty of trophies, and turning heads is as easy as flipping the switches. Finally, Mike's Caddy was finished - for now anyway, because we all know these projects only sit still for a brief period of time. Until then, however, he has secured his place on top with the Dadillac.

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