2000 Chevrolet Silverado
2000 Chevrolet Silverado
Photos by Brandon Burrell
Eric: If projects always went smoothly, then there would be more finished trucks and less good stories to tell. I personally know that had things gone as planned on Josh Wiley’s full-size Chevy you see here, I would never have met him or my favorite non-biological grandmother, Ms. June. As they say, if it were easy, everybody would be doing it. This nine-year project had its fair share of broken promises, long waits and mixed results, but the result that matters, the end one, couldn’t make Josh, June and the rest of us that had a hand in the build any happier. I’d have to say I was a little nervous when I got the call from Grandma June in the summer of 2006 in which the deal was struck to pick up the pieces of the truck in Memphis and put Humpty Dumpty back together again. “Your name is Eric, right?” she asked. “Yes ma’am,” I said. “Well that was the name of the last one, too. If you commit to this and don’t follow through, I’ll kill you.” I guess the woman has a way of getting things done!
Josh: My grandmother is a strong-willed woman, to say the least. She has definitely done her fair share of pulling her two hellion grandsons out of sticky situations, and with this particular deal she was my lifesaver. This truck journey began when I was 15 and my grandfather purchased a 2000 model sunset gold Silverado in the fall of 1999. I was excited for him and myself, especially since I was with him all the time and knew that there was a distinct possibility that I would get to drive his new ride. Once I got my driver’s permit, Grangran taught me how to drive and parallel park in the gold truck. We would make frequent trips to the family farm in Dyersburg, Tennessee, so I could get a good feel for highway driving. I remember one afternoon at the farm a storm rolled in and down dropped a tornado about 100 yards from the turn row we were on. I was sitting in that driver’s seat petrified and wondering what I was going to do! Then I remembered everything he had taught me. I dropped the hammer, slinging dirt and gravel everywhere, and we outran that dang twister. Needless to say, we made it out alive and took home one of the thousands of good memories we had in the truck. Unfortunately, in August 2002 Grangran lost his battle with emphysema. The memory of him was seared into my chest and with it came the truck that he had left me. He was an awesome guy, a wonderful grandfather, and great guy to talk to whenever you were down in the dumps. RIP Grangran.
Fast-forward two years later, I’m 18 years old and the truck is ‘bagged on 20-inch Foose wheels with an all-red interior from Shane Peacock of Memphis. I was trying to get the truck stock floor body dropped and rebuilt. So, I took it up to a shop to get the work done. The guys built a frame from the firewall back out of 2 x 4 square tubing while I was working at Costco as a tire shop supervisor. I worked overtime for four months cleaning the bakery at night so I could buy the 22 x 8.5 and 24 x 10 bonspeed Intense 6 wheels and 265/35R22 and 305/35R24 Kuhmo tires. Unfortunately, while I was scraping cake batter and moldy goo out of the drains at Costco, the truck was sitting dormant. For two years I patiently waited, hoping to hear something new every week. After discussing things with the owner of the shop, we agreed that it was best to shake hands and part ways. However, that would be a little easier said than done. You see, at the time the gold truck was just a cab, frame and a million parts scattered on the floor. Thankfully, friends are there when you need them. Garvin over at the Rod Shop of Memphis suggested two gentlemen he knew who were definitely the guys for the move. So these two old time hot rodders took a roll back and a car hauler to scoop the Chevy off the concrete floor and deliver it to Garvin’s shop until we came up with a better plan. This was when my good friend, Jerry Lewis mentioned a kid, around the same age as me, who was building trucks in middle Tennessee. After a few phone calls to the shop, his group made the trip to Memphis to pick up the truck. Little did I know I was about to make not only a business acquaintance, but a close friend.
Eric: We arrived in Memphis to meet Josh, June and a small stack of papers with my name on them (probably liability release forms should June decide to endanger my life, although I didn’t read the fine print). The cab and frame rails—held together by nothing more than gravity—were inched on a trailer with persuasion from a come-along and some curse words. With the loose parts and panels wrapped in Momma June’s house towels, two trucks with two trailers toted the pieces three-hour drive to the shop, and thus commenced the agreed eight-week build to get the truck back on the blacktop. The first order of business was mating the cab and bed to the frame by making angle-cut finger mounts, which when completed left the rocker sitting flush with the frame rails. The rear axle was narrowed some 10.5 inches to get the 24-inch meats under the bedsides, and a ‘bags-on-the-bars 4-link rear suspension was fabricated from scratch. A 26-gallon fuel cell was built that retains the use of the stock fuel pump and accepts the gold stuff through a small cap flushed into the bed floor above it. The front lays out with ART control arms and 2,800-pound ‘bags for big lift, while a York engine-driven compressor and two Viair 450s ensure that air recovery times are quick and there’s a built-in backup in case either system fails.
One of the themes of this truck was retaining as much function as possible despite the body drop on the big rollers. In that spirit, all of the frame, suspension and air ride parts were packaged to fit under the stock depth of the bed so that only the center section needed to be raised and then boxed back in with a factory bed floor out of a junkyard donor. Underneath the truck, mounting feet were made off of the frame to hold a replaceable, draggable 6-foot, 3-inch wide, 3/4-inch thick Nerf bar for each side that serves to protect the rockers and make for some serious high-speed spark showers. In those eight weeks there were some late nights, unexpected problems, and a few reminders of the old adage, “If I were to do it over, I would…” But do you wanna know if we held up our end of the bargain with g-mama June? Let’s just say you didn’t hear about any fabricators getting murdered now did you.
Josh: Thankfully, she didn’t hire someone to give Eric a new pair of concrete shoes! The functionality of the truck has definitely been put through the wringer. I drove the gold truck daily for two years after Eric and Chris finished—rain, shine, sleet, or snow. That itself can attest to the fact that The Little Shop of Horrors isn’t playing around when it comes to quality work. I think one of coolest things about the truck is that it’s drivable, well built and made for some hell raising. So, after a couple years of sowing some wild oats and saving my pennies, it was time to finish Grangran’s sled. With some of that piss and vinegar out of me, I started to reflect on how I wanted the truck to be in the future. I was looking at it from a more responsible angle for preserving the truck. I didn’t want to finish the truck and sell it, nor did I instantly rebuild and paint it for the next show season. No, I wanted a classic, timeless hot rod. It was really hard letting go of the “businessman tan” paint due to all of the memories, and its continual reference as the “gold truck.” I went through every magazine I owned picking out my favorite sport trucks, and they all had one thing in common: red. So it was apparent that if this was going to be a family heirloom, it had to stand the test of time.
At that point I was working for a high-end detail shop that mainly dealt in paint correction, so being cheap was not an option. I purchased DuPont Hot Hues Candy Apple Red with Cosmic Dust Silver base. All the reducer, activator and clear are Hot Hues products, as well. Eric at LSOH started the bodywork process with the usual shaving duties and after that it was time to cruise down Hwy 64 to Kustom Kars, which is located in Savannah, Tennessee. These guys know what’s up when it comes to laying down some candy. Before the paint hit the shaker, though, Chris Pollock added sheet metal bedsides to the inside walls to give it a smooth look. He then crafted a set of quick-release bump stops as a road trip failsafe if the truck ever incurred a blowout to the air system. Scottie and Derrick were responsible for prepping the truck and laying down the sparkle and the shine. The dash and interior where all sanded smooth previously by Brian at Online Paint of Memphis, so Derrick and Scottie had no trouble changing the color to the same candy red. Line-X of Bartlett was the next stop, where they did an awesome job with a spray-in bedliner. Once the bed was out of the way, I made my way over to my work, Word of Mouth Detail. After over 40 hours of color sanding and polishing, we had an amazingly deep result. Or as a random guy at a gas station in Mobile pointed out, “That truck is wet.”
When it came to interior color choices, it just made sense to go with peanut butter insides to match the jelly on the outside. Brian Galdonez of Custom Stitch Workz is the guy to credit for the tan leather and suede. He does amazing interior work, builds aircraft interiors for a corporate outfit, and is honest and timely with his work. Brian wrapped the doors, seats and sub box in Katzkin doeskin leather, along with wrapping the headliner, pillar post and dash inserts in light sandstone suede. The ACC red carpet was selected to match the paint and a Colorado Customs Whiskey solid billet wheel was installed for steering. Seven years after my grandfather passed, things had finally come together.
Eric: What I’ve always liked about this truck, both when it was gold and now in the candy red, is that it gets used. I’ve personally seen it sideways around a turn, back tires burning, just inches from the ground. After 12,000 miles of that sort of treatment since the body drop, I’d have to say, I’m proud of it. It’s a good blend between form and function: shiny where it’s supposed to be, black on the bottom, and well kept all the way around. Take, for example, the front wheel well lips, which are always prone to getting beat up on ‘bagged trucks. Square rod, 3/8-inch, was welded in to reinforce those lips before the bodywork stage, so that it can take abuse from the tire and not warp now that it’s been painted. Similarly, the closed-in and LineX’d bed regularly sees pop-up tents, chairs, beer coolers (don’t tell June), piles of buddies, and so forth. Likewise, you won’t hear any complaints from riders about the tire size. It may require some more work to get a larger diameter tire in the wheel wells, but that extra couple of inches of sidewall really make this rig ride like a dream compared to other trucks with lower profile rubber. And the fact that the wheels have been powder coated clear to eliminate polishing—well, that‘s just icing on the cake. These are the things that make a custom truck fun and nice at the same time. If one thing is for sure, it’s that this one was built to be enjoyed.
Josh: I think that in the end, this truck has been like a close friend to me. All the memories and experiences I’ve had in it I wouldn’t trade for the world. The truck has been there through many ups and downs in my life, as well as experiencing the ups in downs in its own creation. There are very few times I can say that I had a bad time in it. I remember my brother at the age of 14 cleaning and getting it ready for a Friday night just so he and his big brother could go cruising for some ladies. The first date I ever had was in this truck, along with my other first time (you didn’t read that, grandma). I’ve met so many people from different walks of life from this whole experience, whether it was from truck shows, random people who’ve come up to me in parking lots, or even most recently being on Spike TV’s “Powerblock.” It’s certainly not about the truck anymore to me. Yes, in the past it was almost like a trophy or otherwise inanimate lump in the garage, but now what is important to me are all of the life experiences that I make along the way. If my granddad could have been around for the entire build, he probably would have whooped my butt a couple of times, but I think in the end he would be pleased to see what has been created and the priceless memories that came with it. My grandmother, on the other hand, is truly a soldier. She has stuck by me the entire time and has been an unbelievable inspiration of how to do business and love your kin.
I would like to thank first and foremost my G-mama for being awesome, my Grandfather Rex for everything, my brother Caleb for just being Caleb, Dylan Kail and Brad Drake for keeping my spirits lifted, Eric Saliba for being a rad dude, Brad Hosea for being there throughout the build, Joe Christian for letting me take “my shop” over all the time, my parents, VGL—you know who you are, and anyone else I forgot to mention, thank you!