One of the most heart-wrenching problems with owning a custom truck is the possibility of some sticky-fingered jerk running off with it in the middle of the night. It's a nightmare many can attest to, including this Tahoe's owner, Joe Robles. While living in an apartment as a younger man, his Chevy Extended Cab was plucked from the building's outdoor parking area, never to be seen again. After awaking to find his personal cruiser missing, he vowed to never again own a custom truck until he had a garage to safely tuck it away in.
It’s difficult to argue with how red looks as an interior color when it’s done with tastef
Fast-forward a couple years and Joe made good on that promise after purchasing a home with his bride and starting a new family. Searching through the local classifieds with his brother, Carmen, the pair came across a lowered '97 two-door Tahoe for the right price and the rest, as they say, is history. At first, Joe was content driving it the way he found it, but soon the pressures of seeing all his friends' trucks getting magazine attention were too great and he decided that a makeover was mandatory. Besides, as one of the main members of the Ground Zero Truck Club, he had obligations. First to go was the static drop. Mando's Drop Shop in Houston pulled the front and rear springs and replaced them with Slam Specialties 'bags and a two-link with a Panhard bar. Additional drop was gained with Belltech drop spindles. With a hot rod look in mind, Joe chose 20-inch Centerline Retro wheels wrapped in sticky 255/35 and 275/35R20 Nitto NT-555 tires.
Having the stance set was only one part of the whole picture. Jerry Valenzuela and the Kings of Kolor crew in Weslaco, Texas, handled the main appearance change by adding the hot hues to the Tahoe's skin. Before any color was sprayed, the roof rack, antenna, rear barn door handles, and taillights were shaved. For rear lighting, a pair of LED lights were cut into the lower portion of the barn doors. Lastly, the rear bumper was swapped for a roll pan and the original hood was tossed in favor of a cowl-induction unit. The coup de grâce is the C5 Corvette door handles replacing the SUV's square originals. With all the sheetmetal modifications accounted for, Kings of Kolor coated the entire Tahoe in Pearl White before laying down a perfect set of flames in Torch Red, Sunrise, Sunset, and Tangelo Orange. Edgar Solis of Alamo, Texas, gets credit for the pinstriping on the hood, rear door, and dash.
Painting a set of flames with a fade takes a solid talent to ensure the color transitions
Inside the Chevy is an interior that fills the hot rod theme to a "T". Any plastic not smoothed and painted is coated in luxurious red Ultraleather. Arjona's Upholstery in Pasadena, Texas, stitched together one-off seat covers, a perforated headliner, and a sea of additional leather across the doors and subwoofer enclosure. Billet abounds as HVAC vents, dash trim, and pedals from Empire Motorsports mix with a half-wrap steering wheel from Colorado Custom and chrome Escalade inner door handles. The center console is also a Cadillac Escalade piece. Fitting all of the stereo gear fell to Joe Romero, and he didn't disappoint. Heading up the array is a Pioneer head unit signaling twin Kicker amplifiers to belt out Joe's favorite tunes from Kicker components in the doors and a 10-inch Kicker subwoofer mounted in the custom cargo enclosure.
After putting a solid three years into getting the SUV to where he wanted it, the first thing he did was go pick his son, Ivan, up from school in it just to see his reaction. Apparently it was priceless. Joe is quick to thank his friends from Ground Zero and his wife for keeping the faith when things seem to be stalled. With this Tahoe, Joe was able to spend some entertaining time with his brothers, Carmen and Roland, who are also part of the sport. As it normally occurs, building a show-quality rig is an ongoing process. Joe tells us the Chevy is finished, but he has been eyeballing a set of 22-inch wheels for it. We're sure the new wheels will fit the theme perfectly, because hot rods never die.
Inside The Build
Year Make Model: 1997 Chevy Tahoe
Owner And City/State: Joe Robles • Houston, Texas
Type: 350Ci Vortec
Induction: Spectre Conical Air Filter
Front Suspension: Belltech Drop Spindles And Slam Specialties Airbags
Rear Suspension: Two-Link With Panhard Bar And Slam Specialties Airbags
Wheels & Tires:
Wheels: 20-Inch Centerline Retro
Tires: 255/35 And 275/35Zr20 Nitto Nt-555