Within the custom truck scene, the degree of modifications done to a truck separates the men from the boys. Roll into a show with a 4/6 drop and 18-inch rims and rubber and you're going to be clowned. Cruise onto the showfield with airbag suspension and 20s, and you will be accepted. Drive into a show with the ability to lay your truck's body on the ground while tucking big wheels and you are considered by most of the custom truck enthusiast public to be a hero. These days, it's all about taking things to the extreme when building an award-winning show truck, and with so many ideas executed over and over again, it takes something pretty unique with a deep focus on craftsmanship and detail to spin the collective domes of the Truckin' staff. We have indeed seen it all.
Today, the term body drop is a part of the majority of truck enthusiasts' language and is the mother of all custom alterations one can perform on their ride. It is a no-turning-back modification that forever changes a truck's body structure. Juan Barron of Denver, Colorado, is an enthusiast who went the extra mile when constructing the stunning '02 1-ton Chevy 3500 HD dualie laid gracefully across these pages. From the onset of the project, both Juan and Mitch Diamond of First Strike Design in Pueblo West, Colorado, knew this Crew Cab was destined for greatness.
The first step in any successful truck buildup is creating a stance that will drop jaws. A truck's stance, whether it is hugging the earth or scraping the clouds, gives it an attitude and edge that sets the stage for the rest of the modifications. To give the dualie that long and low look, Juan took it to Roberts Tires & Wheelsin Denver, for a complete air suspension system. Providing lift up front are Firestone 226C airbags mated to custom-fabricated spring cups tooled up by Mitch Diamond at First Strike Design. Out back, Roberts Tires & Wheels installed an Air Ride Technologies Air Bar four-link and C-sectioned the frame to ensure a maximum slam when the Firestone air bellows were deflated. Feeding air to the 'bags are Air Ride Technologies' 1/2-inch Big Red valves and 1/2-inch air line. A digital Air Ride Technologies air pressure gauge panel resides inside the cab in the overhead console. Before Juan commissioned Mitch Diamond, at First Strike, to perform the body drop, a set of 19-inch custom Lightning wheels from Brentz Wheels in Coppell, Texas, were obtained to fill the wheelwells and shoehorn onto load-rated Toyo Proxes rubber, measuring P255/50R19. Mitch Diamond at First Strike Design sat down with a sketchpad and came up with the one-off design of these wheels that feature open slots and a lot of character.
Once the suspension was adjustable and the frame successfully put its John Hancock on the Colorado soil, Juan desired the truck's rockers to do the same and delivered the truck to First Strike Design, where Mitch Diamond laid the beast out. The bed and cab floors were raised to allow the framerails to ascend upward and the cab and bed to drop to the ground. After the cab and bed were hammered on the tarmac, the front crossmember was nipped and tucked to bring the '03 Cadillac Escalade front clip level with the shop floor. To make cruising the extra heavy Chevy more pleasurable, Juan had Mitch spend a little time under the hood.
With a stout 8.1L 496ci big-block Chevy sandwiched between the framerails, this heavy hauler did not need much in the way of performance upgrades. Juan decided a throaty-sounding aftermarket exhaust system would go along nicely with his switch-hitting and low-rolling cruising sessions, so he chose a MagnaFlow system to enhance the voicebox of his burly big-block. The system was custom-built at First Strike Design. After the powerplant was given some mild performance spice, Mitch sparked up his welder and began altering the stock-metal landscape to create a smooth exterior to accept the unique paint and graphics treatment.