Going all out on a custom truck buildup requires commitment and perseverance. It is the enthusiast who commits to taking their project to the extreme edge and not turning back that gets people talking. Patience is also a key ingredient in constructing that perfect pavement-pounding or cloud-scraping pickup to ensure quality does not suffer, and all corners are left uncut. Along with exercising patience and commitment, custom truck owners must be able to visualize the finished product from the moment the first modifications are performed, while mentally building the truck right down to every detail.
As true custom truck enthusiasts, we often build the same truck repeatedly in our heads, changing out wheels and tires, and covering the body with various hues. Eventually, one particular look sticks, and we cannot rest until that dancing custom truck image swirling about in our noggin is sitting flat out on the pavement or scraping the puffy white clouds up above. Shawn Bennett from Orange, California, is one such enthusiast who is permanently infected with the wallet-draining virus of customizing trucks, and to date, has built a few stunning rides which have garnished the attention of the magazine world.
Shawn is the owner of Image Audio Designs, an auto detailing and aftermarket audio shop out of Orange. Over the years, as an auto detailer and mobile audio addict, along with his involvement in the custom truck scene, Shawn built a relationship with a few of the prominent mobile audio manufacturers in the rising car stereo business. One of those companies is Sony Electronics. In January of last year, after selling his '98 Toyota 4Runner, which was lifted, custom-painted, and filled with ear-piercing audio amenities, Shawn began kicking around the idea of building another vehicle to be showcased at the 2003 SEMA Show in Las Vegas.
After proposing the idea to the folks at Sony, they agreed to jump on the sponsor list. Having experienced the riding-high life, Shawn felt that a pavement-hugging Bow Tie pickup, complete with a shaved exterior, trick paint scheme, and miles of audio and video equipment in the bed and cab, combined with some top-notch fiberglass work, would do the trick. The search for a suitable platform began, and a bone-stock '02 Chevy standard cab Silverado became Shawn's next victim for all the wild ideas he had stored up in his cranium.
In order to bring that frame-laying stance from his brain to the pavement, Shawn dropped off the truck at SchoolHouse Kustoms in Huntington Beach, California, for a complete airbag suspension system. The SK crew began by installing McGaughy's 3-inch front drop spindles to get the ball rolling, and completed the frontend plummet with Slam Specialties airbags fitted into the factory coil spring pockets. Out back, an Ektensive Metalworks three-link setup complete with Slam Specialties airbags allows the Bow Tie's fender lips to close in on the rear Boyd billet hoops.
The crew at SchoolHouse Kustoms installed Ekstensive's '99-'04 step-notch kit, allowing the truck to lay 'rail on 22-inch rims and rubber. Toxic shocks, forward and aft, cushion the ride, while two Viair 550 compressors, GC 1/2-inch valves, 1/2-inch air line, and a Dakota Digital air pressure readout gauge handles the plumbing. The fenderwells are now home to 22x10-inch Boyd Coddington Turbo billet wheels wrapped by P285/30ZR22 Goodyear Wrangler FI tires. For an extra touch, the face of each 22-inch Boyd wheel was inscribed with the Sony Xplod logo to signify brand loyalty of the audio and video products contained inside. Considering the customizing intentions Shawn had planned for this short cab Bow Tie, the stock 5.3L could not be left untouched. In order to send the rear Goodyear skins up in smoke, SchoolHouse Kustoms massaged the contemporary mill with a Vortech supercharger and intercooler, Nitrous Express 150-shot direct-port nitrous-oxide system, and Gibson headers linked to a Gibson 2-1/2-inch exhaust system.
The Vortech blower is operated at 10 pounds of boost for optimum performance when Shawn slides his foot into the throttle and gets the truck loose. A total of 585 hp and 640 lb-ft of torque get this slick and smooth Chevy down the track in a hurry, with a best quarter-mile time of 12.80 at 124 mph. Just in case Shawn is pressed for stopping distance, a set of Stainless Steel Brakes brakes force 10 four-piston calipers with 14-inch rotors, bringing the 22-inch Boyd billets to a standstill. Who says you can't have beauty and speed rolled into one package? After the performance goals of the buildup were complete, it was time to carve up the body and delete most of the factory features.
Within the custom truck scene, first impressions are everything, and since this truck was built with a magazine cover and extensive campaigning for Sony in mind, the exterior looks had to be stunning. Putting the smackdown on the envelope was none other than Rock & Roll Custom Paintworks in Orange.
The talented metal sculpting staff at Rock & Roll shaved the door handles, cab seams, stake pockets, gas door finger hole, and the tailgate handle to begin the quest for a slick and smooth exterior. Once most of the factory annoyances were shaved, a steel Sir Michaels roll pan was molded into the tail-end region to continue the smooth metal theme on the truck's backside. With all of this shaving, grinding, sanding, and smoothing going on, leaving the stock taillights in place would be unacceptable. To match the sanitary metalwork already in place, a pair of '84 Cadillac taillights were grafted in to provide stylish stop and turn warnings.
Up front, Street Scene Equipment Speed Grille inserts were used along with Sylvania HID headlights to create bold facial features. Keeping opposing traffic in sight is now the job of Street Scene side mirrors. After the Bow Tie's metal makeover was complete, the welders and grinders were given time to cool while the spray guns were pulled out to execute the wild multicolored paint scheme.
Staying true to the classy modifications that were already in place, the talented painters at Rock & Roll laid down a combination of House of Kolor Cobalt Blue Kandy over the Silverado's smoothed skin. The Cobalt Blue was used from the midsection up, while the Orion Silver was sprayed on the truck's lower half to give the paintjob some dimension.
In between the silver and blue hues, a custom-green graphic was applied to spice things up a bit. Streaks of silver and blue interweave down the sides, giving showgoers a few extra details to feast their eyes on. Drop shadows were added to the graphics for increased depth, and the whole truck was color-sanded and polished to a brilliant shine before it was brought back to Image Audio Designs for the extensive Sony audio and video amenities.
Being a professional audio installer, you have to set the bar pretty high in your own ride to impress customers. Shawn knew if this truck was going to go to the 2003 SEMA Show and make a splash in the Sony Electronics booth, the audio/video system had to be outrageous. Using the help of friend and audio guru, Ryan Roybal, Shawn gutted the truck's interior and began by mounting a Sony CDX-M9905X head unit in the dash, serving as the command center for the massive audio and videoartillery found in the cab and bed.
A custom fiberglass enclosure located behind the seats was built to house seven 10-inch Sony Xplod XM-LD105P5 subwoofers, which are backed by seven Sony Xplod XM-D5160P5 amplifiers. To enhance the audio experience between bass hits, three Sony Xplod XS-HF500G component speakers were mounted in a custom-built enclosure in each door panel. Powering the midrange speakers are three Sony Xplod XM-2200GTX amplifiers,while the highs receive their power via two Sony Xplod XM-4060GTX amplifiers.
There are plenty of sights to go with all the sounds in this Silverado with a total of 23 Sony XVM-H65 6-1/2-inch wide-screen monitors and three Sony SDM-V72W 17-inch monitors, along with one 10.2-inch monitor in the dash. A Sony DVX-11A DVD receiver and Sony DVX-100 DVD changer handle getting various movie choices up on the 27 screens. Shawn and Ryan used a large sampling of materials from Select Products to wire up the audio and video systems. A total of three Optima batteries were used to power this massive audio and video ensemble. One Optima can be found under the hood, while two reside in the bed.
Once Ryan and Shawn finished installing all the audio and video gear, and fabricated all the custom fiberglass enclosures, the truck was left in the capable hands of Steve "Revo" Reeves at Stitchcraft Custom Interiors in Huntington Beach, California, for some threadwork to be performed on the interior. To facilitate comfortable cruising inside Shawn's slammed standard cab, a pair of Sparco Milano seats were installed and covered in Alcantara leather. Sparco four-point harnesses keep Shawn and privileged passengers in place when the go pedal is planted. The floorboards are covered in black Mercedes-Benz carpet, while the headliner wears Alcantara leather. To brighten up the dash area, Shawn and Ryan Roybal remolded the stock dash with fiberglass, and had Rock & Roll Custom Paintworks smooth and paint it to match the exterior.
The custom center console was also given a dose of custom paint to stand out among the darker cabin surroundings. Custom hot-rod-style A/C vents lend additional detail, while a Trenz Manufacturing billet steering wheel and billet pedals round out the billet aluminum and paint contrasting. To finish off the interior restyling, a host of fiber-optic lighting from Luxaura Light Guide was installed.
Shawn Bennett has successfully built one wild custom Silverado that blends performance audio and video upgrades with superb engine, paint and body, and interior alterations. The truck has served as an airbagged business card for Sony Electronics, promoting its products at the 2003 Sema Show and 2004 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, and we are sure landed Shawn a few extensive audio installs in customer's cars.
With the truck laid flat out on the cover of Truckin', it looks like Shawn and Sony's commitment to take this project to the extreme edge paid off in a big way.