In a world filled with tragedy, this story brings with it a light of happiness at the end of the tunnel. Thirty-year-old Rich Tong of Valrico, Florida, loved to customize trucks and during his battle with cancer, his 2000 Chevy truck provided a goal to try and achieve through weakness, chemo, and fear. When pulling features for this month's paint and body issue, we couldn't pass up on Rich's Chevy. With an extensive list of body mods, this truck serves as a custom truck enthusiast's legacy.
Rich was no stranger to a welder and his buddies who worked with him in his garage knew that if he thought he could put it back together, Rich would tear it apart. Starting with a 2000 Chevy 2500 Crew Cab, Rich removed the factory suspension and added a set of Belltech spindles, Firestone airbags, and Air Ride Technologies shocks up front. In the rear Rich fabbed a leverage suspension using Firestone 'bags and Air Ride shocks. The entire frame was boxed and then painted black to give it a clean appearance. Nearly a foot lower than stock, Rich wasn't satisfied and completed the stock floor body drop, dropping the front fenders over the 20x8-inch Billet Specialties wheels and 20x9 1/2-inch Billet Specialties wheels over the rear tubs. Under the 11-inch raised bed floor lie the two 5-gallon chrome air tanks, a Tahoe gas tank, and two Optima batteries.
Loving the new slammed look, Rich went to work with Harry's Body Shop in Tampa, Florida, to ensure his truck was a true custom rig. While at Harry's, the team deleted the rear door handles, gas door, tailgate handles, taillights, and C-pillar roof seam. By far the sickest mod to the truck is the 2005 GMC front clip installed on the front end using modified '98 Chevy fenders. Now calling home are Sierra headlights, bumper, and grille shell. Harry's finished things off by adding the huge electric sunroof. With the body prepped for paint, Robbie Taylor of Seffner, Florida, applied the Mazda Speed Blue and House of Kolor Lime Time Green with DuPont silver graphics. Now the project was snowballing out of control and Rich had something to look forward to with every doctor's visit.
Under the modified hood is a 350ci V-8 equipped with a K&N filter, MSD blaster coil, and CGS muffler. Also under the hood is an engine-driven compressor for the two 5-gallon air tanks.
Inside the four doors is an all-leather interior by Diamond Dave in Brandon, Florida. Katzkin leather seat covers wrap the stock seats, and an Ebony-painted dash adds contrast to the cabin.
Rich was an enthusiast who loved every minute of doing what he did best, customizing until it was just the way he wanted it. We know his family and friends miss him, as does the custom truck community.