Dating back almost three years ago, this truck's origins aren't nearly as old as some of the prehistoric figures painted onto its side, however, the story of how and why they appear on the truck is a very interesting one. It was a beautiful summer day and my cell phone rang. The name showing up on the screen was Daniel Stewart, a custom truck enthusiasts who owned a Nissan Titan I had photographed earlier in the spring. I answered his call and he told me the horrible news. A big rig driver tried to avoid a collision and in doing so, he merged too far over to the left and crushed Daniel and his Titan up against the center guard wall. Thankfully, no one was seriously injured, however the Titan wasn't so fortunate. Now he was looking for some ideas for his next custom ride and after we talked, he went out and picked up an '04 F-150. And so the story begins.
Bouncing ideas back and forth, Daniel's biggest concern was doing something drastically different. Loving the lifted look, he decided to go big with a Bulletproof Suspension lift kit and 40-inch Toyo tires. An all-black truck with a lift isn't really straying from the norm, so he devised a paint scheme to really turn some heads. Months after beginning his search for a custom painter who could execute the ideas in his head, Daniel tracked down Cory St. Clair for an ultra-realistic airbrush look. Cory started the truck but never finished it and Daniel had to search once again for someone talented enough for the task. Meanwhile, Daniel learned his mom had cancer. During an extreme battle that saw his family go through the toughest of times, a custom show truck was the last thing on Daniel's mind. Blessed and cured, his mom was able to give him her blessing and Daniel jumped back on his truck and persevered. Now, after trials and tribulations, illness and health, and a couple custom painters later, his 13-year dream of being on the cover of Truckin' has come full circle. Here's how he got there...
Lifting the truck higher than most Ford F-150s is a Bulletproof Suspension that uses a drop-down bracket, Eibach coil springs, and Fox Shox bypass shocks. Detailed to the nines, the upper and lower control arms were chromed, and the subframe, spindles, sway bar drop brackets, and coil springs were all powdercoated blue. Wheels on each corner are 22x11-inch RBP 91R in black and are mounted inside Toyo Tires Open Country M/T 40x15.50R22 off-road tires. Out back, powdercoated blue Atlas leaf springs keep the bed tall, while a powdercoated axle and polished ORU diff cover keep things looking good. Halting all of this mass are big brakes from SSBC with black calipers on each corner. HOT Motorsports performed the suspension work. Power output from the 5.4L was improved with the addition of an Edge programmer, K&N intake and RBP exhaust system with black tips. The tires spin a little freer with the installation of 4.88 Genuine Gears. It takes more than just a lift kit to make it into any magazine and Daniel placed his focus on an insane paint scheme.
Cory St. Clair accepted Daniel's challenge to create a one-off paint job for the F-150. Several themes were discussed until an underwater marine life scheme was agreed upon. Using a projector to place an image on the hood and passenger side of the truck, the overall lines were traced out and then the details were airbrushed. The look is stunning. Cory opted not to finish the extensive project, and Daniel was forced to seek the talent of another painter. He teamed up with Jason Russel, of Airhead Kustoms, in Corona, California, to complete the Ford. There, the driver side, tailgate, and interior were completed. Images of dolphins, sharks, an octopus, a tortoise, jelly fish, even a puffer fish can be found swimming in what looks like an aquarium inside the F-150. With a water break line showing the water and surface, the look is 3-D and very realistic. Every time we see it, more things appear from the depths of the sea. Before the House of Kolor paints were applied, the door handles, tailgate handle, gas door, antenna, and roll pan were shaved. An RBP black RX series grille was bolted into place, as was Anzo USA headlights and Recon taillights. Now that the paint was "stop-you-in-your-tracks" awesome, Daniel looked to make the interior one-of-a-kind as well.
Danny, at DH Designz, performed the audio work, which sounds as good as it looks. Opening the doors, you almost expect water to pour out as the fiberglassed door panels, dash, and center console that were painted to match the underwater theme. Each door houses Polk Audio Momo series 61/2-inch components supplying the mids and highs. Providing the boom are four 12-inch Polk Audio Monitor series subs in a huge center console that splits the now 50/50 rear seats. Powering all of this audio mayhem are two Polk Audio Momo C400.4 amps and two Pold Audio Momo C500.1 mono amps mounted to a trick amp rack in the bed. Tsunami wiring and cables were used throughout and power was run to three Kinetik batteries. Keeping the tunes in check is an Alpine head unit, with a Playstation 2 providing movies for passengers. Movies can be seen on the three 15-inch ACT monitors, one in each front door and one in the dash. Katzkin black and grey leather seat covers dress up the Ford seats and a black suede headliner adds class to the fiberglass confines. DH Designz also handled the interior suede and leather work.
After such an arduous journey, Daniel is content with his F-150 and says there isn't a mod he regrets. The lessons learned have taught him that family is most important, giving up on a project is not an option, and settling for second-best will never satisfy. It appears Daniel's immersion under the water has made him stronger than ever.