Tony Gwynn, Jr.'s Caddy sits down on the tarmac, thanks to a hand-fabricated air suspensio
The world of high-end customizing looks huge on TV, but that is not always the reality. Shops are few and far between that can actually lay their hands on a big-dollar ride and make it into something even better. Integrating into current factory electronics is only marginally easier than hacking into the Pentagon's website. Where do you turn if you have the dinero and a baller truck or SUV? If you watch TV lately, and if you're in Los Angeles, then the choice is clear: Just knock on the door of West Coast Customs.
Tony Gwynn, Jr. did just that. With a fresh Cadillac Escalade, Tony knew he had to do something different to separate himself from the masses. Bolting on 22s and tinting the windows wasn't going to cut the mustard in his book. Adding some snap to the already visually appealing Caddy required bringing it down from its high stock stance. WCC engaged in a fierce battle, but in the end, the Escalade lost and laid itself down to the victors. To get the big SUV to lie down, DJM lower control arms were installed in front with Firestone 2,600-pound air bellows. Since the all-wheel drive was kept intact, space was an issue between the front driveshafts and airbags. Creating room to run front shocks necessitated a trick taken from the off-road guys. WCC fabricated an over-the-engine shock hoop, creating an upper shock mount, while the lower shock mount was run from the top of the upper A-arm. In the rear suspension department, the coils were sent packing and, once again, Firestone 2,600-pound airbags were put in place. A custom C-notch was created, and the rear link bars were helped into alignment with DJM mounts. Nitrogen-charged shocks damp the 'bag oscillation. For rolling hardware, painted and chromed monstrous 24x10-inch Giovanna Gellos were wrapped with Kumho 305/35R24 rubber. Hauling Gwynn Jr. and his big Giovannas down from speed are Brembo cross-drilled rotors and four-piston calipers.
A stock Cadillac Escalade with the 6.0L V-8 puts out a healthy 345 hp, but the power is quickly devoured by the all-wheel-drive system. Helping to bring some grins to Tony's face, West Coast Customs installed a fully polished Whipple supercharger system. A smooth intake and some computer tweaks help produce some good boost numbers. The Whipple, in conjunction with a MagnaFlow after-cat exhaust, pushes the 6.0L into the 400-plus hp territory, which is just the thing for throwing all four 24s up in smoke.
Making the body go POW! is a complete recolor from H&H Autobody featuring products from House of Kolor. Baby Blue Pearl was custom ordered by WCC and H&H handled the request. Tony approves. Adding to the silliness of it all is a polished billet aluminum grille insert from Trenz with some complementing shine coming from the chromed towhooks. Deepening the look in the rear of this badass Cadillac are darkened taillights from SmokedLamps.com. To keep prying eyes from staring down the interior, West Coast laid tint to all the windows.
Entertainment is the name of the game in the world of upscale luxury, and this Escalade has it all. Upon opening any door, the first thing to grab your eye is the plush suede. Black dominates the interior, and black suede lavishly adorns the door panel inserts, the headliner, front armrests, A-, B-, C-, and D-pillars, and the subwoofer enclosure in the rear. Offsetting the abyss of darkness are baby-blue rays of light. Baby-blue suede seat and armrest inserts are paired with paint-matched dash panels, door panel inserts, the center console, the steering wheel, and the sub enclosure trim. While lavishing himself and passengers with big-time comfort, Tony can also pop a video of his latest home run onto any one of the five monitors in the interior. In the dash, a 12-inch Elo Touch Screen makes the Drive Soft onboard computer do the switcheroo between DVD, MP3, CD, AM/FM, camera, internet, navigation, or Sony PS2. Two Directed Electronics 7-1/2-inch screens in the C-pillars and two Directed Electronics' 10-inch flip-down monitors in the ceiling fill in the rest of the visual quintet. When the signal source is chosen as audio, the Alpine ERA-G320 signal processor turns the beats over to PCX-4125 and PCX-2400 Precision Power amps. Once amplified to ear-tearing levels, the West Coast Custom mids and highs fill in between the bass that emanates from the four 12-inch Precision Power subs. Mad Mike and his trio of trouble say that this is some of their finest work.
All said and done, West Coast Customs has created a stunning visual and aural representation of what high-end customizing is all about. Tony Gwynn Jr. has himself one insane Cadillac Escalade aimed at what the upper end of the market share looks to achieve. Stock Escalades with window tint and 22s just can't compare.