Thieves suck. Now that we have the obvious out of the way, you can better understand the three-year battle Chris Sewell, of Seffner, Florida, endured when building his '99 F-150. Working night and day to get his truck ready for Slamfest, Chris awoke to his pride and joy stripped and suffering from $6,000 in damages. Down but not out, Chris told us, "I took that downfall as an opportunity to redo the truck with shaved handles, taillights, new bed floor, and new paint." It's this kind of resilience that make custom truck enthusiasts run toward the fire, not away from it.

Before the truck was rebuilt, Chris had already made impressive strides in the chassis and suspension. Working in his driveway, Chris bolted on Belltech 2-inch drop spindles, modified DJM control arms to accommodate the Airlift 2600 Dominator 'bags fed by 3/8-inch GC valves, and notched the frame to clear the tie-rod ends. Combine that with bolting on a brake booster from an Explorer for added clearance, rerouting the ECU to the interior, and notching the firewall- the front end is able to tuck 22-inch Vagare V14 wheels with 265/35R22 Sunny tires. Power Slot rotors help bring the fast Ford down from speed. With the bed off, Chris created a custom four-link setup with matching Airlift 'bags. Keeping in mind his need for driving his F-150, he also notched the frame and raised his factory gas tank an inch and a half. His truck was now rolling low, but the engine wasn't up to par, so he quickly switched his attention to making more power.

Chris admits, "I blew the first motor, so I bought an '01 Cobra motor and converted it over." Now resting under the hood, the 4.6L DOHC V-8 provides 320 hp and was upgraded with Steeda underdrive pulleys, a BBK 75mm throttle body, electric fans, and BBK air intake. The factory tranny was upgraded with a B&M shift kit, and providing the classic Mustang rumble are Flowmaster mufflers. Content with smoking the tires at will, Chris moved to the body.

Upgrades here and there had his Ford looking good and it was around this time the scum of the Earth decided they needed his parts more than he did. Ready for take two, Chris teamed up with Johnny Pridgeon, of ArtRageous, in Largo, Florida, to take his F-150 to the next level. With a renewed vigor, Chris shaved the door handles, tailgate handle with bubble, taillights, and bolted on a roll pan. Now recessed in the tailgate are LED taillights and once the brake pedal is applied, the rear of Chris' truck instantly communicates to trailing motorists. Known for his oil paintings and custom Harley motorcycles, Johnny used Chris' Ford as his truck launching point. Covering the F-150 in a DuPont Candy Red base, he then used his airbrush gun to add wispy flames from front to back, complete with menacing skulls inside several licks. The end result is stunning. Finishing off the body, Chris added a Roush front bumper, Trenz billet grille, and raised the bed floor with wood planks and stainless stringers.

Inside his flamed Ford, an Alpine head unit controls 6.5-inch Kicker components in each door and two 12-inch Kicker subs housed in a fiberglass enclosure Chris made when, "I was bored one weekend." Two MTX amps power the speakers and an Optima battery keeps them juiced. One of his buddies, Dave, cut down the Ford ZX2 seats and covered them in two-tone black leather and red suede. The dash and door handles were smoothed painted and Chris used inspiration from a Truckin' tech article to cover his headliner in black and red suede. Billet touches, such as the Billet Specialties flame wheel, Roush pedals, and UPR interior accessories, really liven up the red and black confines.

Built at home and built the way he wanted it, Chris wanted to say thanks to his wife Melissa and his buddies in AcrophobiA. Wouldn't it be a great world if more people rebounded from tragedy and made their lives, in this case a truck, better than ever.