Mystery Man

April 4th, 2011

Text and Photos by Jason Mulligan

Jeff Lewis Sr. was a trucker by trade for more than 30 years, and Mystery Man was his CB handle. He worked hard to provide for his family, which often forced him to be away from home many days out of the year. As a kid, his son Jeff looked forward to summertime when he was out of school and would ride shotgun with his dad in his rig. As the he got older, the younger Jeff began building custom trucks and attending shows, and he brought his dad along with him so they could connect and spend some time together. Jeff Sr. enjoyed the shows and everyone in the club that his son belonged to, Relaxed Atmosphere. He even started telling people that he was “The Real Jeff Lewis.”

Unfortunately, he developed some health issues over the years. Although he was always too stubborn to ask for anything, he expressed an interest in building a truck of his own to his wife Carolyn (who was by then also a fan of custom trucks and a show attendee). He wanted a ride to show alongside his son. He even discussed the possibility with his son of joining Relaxed Atmosphere, if he had a truck of his own, of course. Looking to give back to the parents who had given him so much, Jeff set about building a custom truck for his father to show and he kept it secret from him the entire time, thanks to the help of his friends. NC Dave located and picked up a ‘72 Ford F-100 Ranger, and the Mystery Man build began.

The word went out to all of Jeff’s friends and the guys in Relaxed Atmosphere, and many stepped up to help out on the project for pops. Colby Cormier from Louisiana pitched in the front clip from a 1988-98 C/K truck. The IFS setup allowed for the former front straight axle truck to lay flat on the ground thanks to a set of chrome upper and lower arms and a set of Dominator airbags. Out back, the crew at Suicide Doors donated a 4-link bar setup with Dominator ‘bags that allow the Chevy 10-bolt rearend to travel into the notched frame. All of the suspension work was performed by Daniel Whaley at Greenhouse Customs with the help of Lexie England. In order to supply the Dominator ‘bags with enough oxygen to raise and drop on command, AirLift Company supplied a pair of Viair 450 compressors, valves and line, along with an AVS switchbox to control it all.

Of course, every slammed truck needs a set of big wheels to complete the look. Jeff’s best friend Tony Syms just happens to own the wheel and tire shop Chrome’d Out Customs, and supplied a set of chrome 22-inch Geno wheels wrapped in 265/35R20 Falken tires for the project.

The next step was the body. Jeff wanted to keep it as original as possible with all the trim, so Darrin Fennell repainted the truck to its stock colors. The interior was restored and repainted before David Corn of Pro Stitch got his hands it and wrapped the bench seat and door panels in white vinyl and blue tweed to match the paint scheme. The truck originally had very low miles on it, but due to years of sitting, the motor began acting up, and would often leave them stranded after a show. Rather than fix it, the two Jeffs opted to drop a brand-new 302 HO crate motor into the F-100 that cranks over thanks to a Kinetik battery. Ray at Five Star Auto ran all of the new lines for the fresh motor.

The Lewis family would like to thank everyone involved in the build and in Relaxed Atmosphere. Jeff would like to thank Daniel Whaley, Lexie England, Tony and Kim Syms, David Corn, Darrin Fennell, Erik Harbour of Kinetik, NC Dave, Cory at AirLift, Suicide Doors, Colby Cormier, Ray at Five Star Auto, his family and the wives of everyone involved in the build, including Miranda Lewis, Amanda England, Carolyn Lewis and Jessica Lewis. Once the truck was finished and given to “The Real Jeff,” he and Carolyn proudly took it to all of the car shows and displayed it alongside their son’s truck. They joined Relaxed Atmosphere, too, and their dedication before and after the truck build was shown some love from the club when they received the Rookie of the Year award.

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