Some guys collect baseball cards, others tinker with model airplanes, but for Rafael Ramirez, of Rialto, California, creating rolling works of auto art is what he calls his hobby. Occupying most of his free time and a large portion of his wallet, this '08 Chevy Tahoe is his latest creation. Wanting a truck that would rise to the top of the custom scene in SoCal, Rafael surrounded himself with talented builders and in just 11 months, turned a stock Tahoe into this month's cover feature.

Needing his Chevy on the ground, Rafael made the short drive to Chino, California, home to Master Image Customs (MIC). Once a plan was created, Adam and Andy got to work making this Tahoe lay frame. Up front, custom upper and lower A-arms with uniballs were fabricated and bolted to McGaughy's 2-inch drop spindles. With the huge wheels planned for the Tahoe, MIC notched the firewall and hand-rolled inner fenders that were welded in place. Slam 'bags drop the Chevy down over beautiful 28-inch Lexani LT704 wheels that are wrapped in Pirelli 295/25R28 rubberbands. Out back, MIC welded in a custom six-link and installed an aluminum fuel cell due to clearance issues. With the air out of the Slam 'bags, the Tahoe's frame gently kisses the California pavement. Excited about the new slammed stance, Rafael drove his Chevy over to Speed Tech Auto Body in Santa Ana, California, to receive a paint makeover.

While in the care of Speed Tech Auto Body, the guys covered the Tahoe in House of Kolor Oriental Blue and Blue Ice Pearl Flake. Danny D, from La Puente, California, was then called upon to really make the paint jump off the canvas. Daddy D applied his custom graphics and pinstriping talents in a big way by adding a water droplet effect to the upper body line, adding candied silver leaf to the sides and hood, and by creating a 3-D line effect in the center of the hood. Finishing off the wild paint scheme, Danny D striped each graphic and added a gold leaf hot-rod stripe on the hood. The end result is a Tahoe that looks as if it's in constant motion and after looking at the paint over and over again, you'll always find something new. Completing the body transformation, projector headlights fitted with HID bulbs were bolted in place, along with a new Lexani grille, fender vents, and bumper pieces.

Inside the cabin, Rafael went wild with fiberglass and animal hides. Providing a luxurious feel, Fineline Interiors, in Bell, California, wrapped the dash, seats, headliner, and even floor in blue two-tone ostrich and elephant leather. To make jaws drop at first glance, a 22-inch plasma was fiberglassed into the dash, as was a center stack that is home to three 7-inch LCD screens. J&B Auto Designs handled the fiberglass work, and they also created a fiberglass center console that features the Alpine DVD head unit, airbag controller, and serves as the mounting location for the window switches. The console is connected to the rear cabin by a massive fiberglass bridge.

Removing the rear seats allowed room for a titanic-sized enclosure that houses two Diamond Audio amps, two JL Audio 13W7 subs, and a set of Diamond Audio component speakers. Working in conjunction with the center enclosure, the rear fiberglass sub box is stuffed with two huge 1000/1 JL Audio amps, one more JL Audio 13W7, and four Kinetik 2400 power cells (two of which are inside the box and not visible). Flanking the sub box are two 22-inch Insignia plasma TVs, with one more facing the rear for good measure. Both front and rear door panels were fiberglassed and fitted with Diamond Audio components and 7-inch LCD monitors. With the screens playing a movie and speakers blasting, Rafael's ride is more like an IMAX theatre than an SUV.

Powering all of those electronics required a ton of juice and Chuy's Auto Electric installed a dual 300-amp chrome alternator setup complete with a heavy-duty rectifier box. With the four Kinetik batteries, dual alternators, and 120V hookup, Rafael can keep the party going all night. East Lake Designs took care of the wiring. Other mods to the engine include a K&N cold-air intake, Magnaflow exhaust, and several painted pieces to add style points.

Rafael was eager to thank his friends and fellow Xplicit car club members for their help and support, and he especially wanted to thank MIC, Danny D, Speed Tech Auto Body, Kinetik, and K&N.

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