Rusty Smith from St. Stephan, South Carolina, slammed down a fist full of Franklins on the purchase of a '97 Chevrolet Silverado that was initially going to be a work truck and nothing else. Of course, we've heard this line before. Every time custom truck enthusiasts approach their work trucks, it gives them another moment to imagine and visualize what it could be.
Over time, Rusty began to wipe out the work truck responsibilities and imagine a slightly customized truck. He started visualizing it with a mild 2/4 drop and new wheels and tires, and his curiosity began to get the best of him. After referring to a stack of Truckin' magazines for ideas and products, he became hooked.
Rusty designs and installs wall coverings for hotels, industrial buildings, and corporate offices. Living on a spacious 25-acre hobby farm outside of St. Stephan, he stays plenty busy with his farm animals, barnyard chores, and tending to his crops. Along with tending to these responsibilities, he started gaining more interest in custom trucks and started accumulating information and ideas pertaining to his custom intentions for his '97. After a long and interesting quest looking for guidance and advice, Rusty discovered The Show Zone in Ladson, South Carolina, owned by Skate Seprish. This one-stop shop radiates with a talented crew: painter Scott Hawk, fabrication tech Bill Barnes, Scott Evans, Tyler Bergin, and brothers Joey and Cory Seprish. This crew is known for their enthusiasm, imagination, quality, and professional craftsmanship. Obviously, a respectful relationship has been formed with Scott and his crew. The Show Zone ended up being a one-stop shop for Rusty. Before he knew it, his '97 work truck was being body dropped and received a four-link setup, big wheels and tires, engine mods, an interior makeover, a new audio sound system upgrade, and a complete body and paint makeover.
The installation of DJM 2-inch drop spindles with Firestone 2600 airbags and Toxic nitrogen-charged shocks altered the front suspension. Larger Baer Brake calipers and cross-drilled rotors are responsible for the braking up front. For rolling stock, BFGoodrich P245/40R20 tires were mounted on a pair of Intro Segster 20x8.5-inch polished billet aluminum wheels. To obtain rear suspension clearance, the frame was step-notched. The rear suspension's flexibility was accomplished by a four-link bar with a Panhard bar setup from Chassis Tech and a Baer Brake disc brake conversion with large cross-drilled rotors and calipers, which supplied the stopping duties out back. The Intro 20x10-inch Segster wheels were wrapped with BFGoodrich P275/35R20 chubbys. All of the suspension components were painted to match the body color.
The '97 Silverado 1500 Extended Cab received a major 3-inch body drop, which alleviated much of the suspension geometry changes and gave it the ability to lay rockers. Other cool cosmetic improvements included shaved stock taillights that were replaced with Cadillac taillights, a shaved tailgate, door handles, and gas door. Also included in the upgrade were filled-in bed pockets, rooflines, antenna, and third brake light. A Gaylord's tonneau contributes to the overall smooth appearance.
After all of the body mods were applied and executed, The Show Zone's celebrity painter, Scott Hawk, sprayed on a flawless PPG Emerald Green that was color-sanded. Then, he applied a set of Emerald Green ghost flames on the hood and all the way down the gray rocker panels, finished by a Burple (a mix between blue and purple) pinstripe. The entire body was completely wet-sanded, and multiple coats of clear were applied to protect the flames. After another micro wet-sand, the entire skin was buffed and polished to achieve its endless depth.
Under the hood lies a factory '97 350ci powerplant with a custom intake system that directs air into the Vortech supercharger that produces 7 psi of boost. To excite the engine's overall performance, a Hypertech computer chip was installed. A pair of ceramic-coated JBA headers exhausts the hot used gases through a pair of Flowmaster mufflers. A complete set of custom painted-to-match pulleys direct the multiple belts and sequence the crank, Vortech supercharger, water pump, alternator, and A/C. The transmission also received a B&M Shift Improver Kit to firm up those shift points. The Optima battery was relocated underneath an access door under the bed floor.
Opening the door exposes the immaculate custom interior created by the team at The Show Zone, featuring a smoothed dash painted to match the exterior with flames that continued from the hood. There's also a collection of Dakota Digital gauges and Billet Specialties billet dash accessories and pedal covers, as well as a Billet Specialties tan leather-covered steering wheel. A custom-built center console houses the MIC pneumatic gauges and switches, and a pair of Recaro low-back, black bucket seats keep the driver and passenger firmly in place. The rear bench seat was covered with matching Recaro fabric. The floor and headliner are factory tan, while the door panels were disassembled and reworked with new tan fabric, and the insert panels were sanded smooth and painted gray to match the exterior rocker panels. The rocker panels were then accented with matching Emerald Green tribal flames with Burple pinstripes.
The rocking entertainment is headed up by a Pioneer CD player (PN DEH920R), and a JL Audio 75x4 amp powers the 5-inch and 6-inch mids and highs. A JL Audio 500 amp was mounted in a custom-built amp rack painted to match the truck's flame graphics and powers the four JL 10-inch subs mounted in a custom-built chamber box that was hidden under the rear seat. All of the custom installation of the entertainment system was completed by the crew at The Show Zone.
The crew at The Show Zone is definitely a talented bunch. Our hats go off to Skate Seprish, Scott Hawk, Bill Barnes, Scott Evans, Joey and Cory Seprish, and Tyler Bergin. The Show Zone is truly a one-stop shop. If Rusty's '97 is any indication of the possibilities of an old work truck, then there are a lot of potential candidates ready to follow suit.