BRANDON BURRELL November 17, 2023 Chevrolet
When it comes to creating a full-out show truck, people have so many reasons why they choose what they build and how they build it. Some people model it after something they had or admired as a kid. Some get a good deal on the starter truck and decide to tear into it. And some people may have a daily driver that, after several years, is the one they want to turn into a show truck.
Once the truck has been chosen, most normally follow a route to get the look they want. Whether it’s a full frame-off build with crazy mods and paint, a massively lifted truck with tons of powdercoating, or a super-fast track-inspired build, everyone’s personal passion shines through in the end.
For Shane Andrews from Blairsville, Georgia, picking the truck you see here and the style of the build was a quick decision. This 2012 Nissan Frontier not only provided a good base for his project, but it also had huge emotional meaning to him. The truck originally belonged to his brother-in-law Rick Baker who, after serving in the US Navy, passed away. Shane got the truck after Rick’s passing and showed it for a couple years in its previous form.
While at Battle in Bama 2020 and seeing all the Navy and military equipment, planes, and ships on display on the showgrounds, Shane and his family decided it was time to completely redo the truck and make it more than a standard show truck. Knowing they wanted to build the truck in honor of Rick, Shane set out a plan to do a military tribute truck focusing on the Navy. Shane’s father, Jeff Andrews, had also served in the US Navy, so adding that aspect to the concept really set the wheels in motion. Several calls and emails were made while attending the show, and everyone immediately knew this was the right decision.
The first thing to do was to get the truck to lay out, so a set of custom front control arms and Dominator air bags were added to the front, while an 8-inch C-notch was added with the new back half frame section along with another set of Dominator air bags. Custom anchors were welded into the back half to bring the Navy theme into the chassis as well. To control the now-adjustable height of the truck, a full Accuair E-level system was added that is controlled through the iPad mounted in the dash. Shannon Herrboldt from Menno, South Dakota, handled the suspension work to get the truck to air out correctly.
A unique part of the entire suspension setup is the air tank placement. It was modified and painted to look like a bomb and was mounted in the center of the bed. Two actuated “bomb bay” doors were fabricated to remotely open to expose the air tank. A TV at the front of the bed and two batteries at the rear of the bed raise when the bomb bay doors are opened. The batteries are wrapped with 50-caliber bullets to add to the military look. With the suspension and custom air tank complete, it was time to do a custom two-tone paint job on the 22-inch Lexani LF-722 wheels wrapped in 245/25-22 tires for all four corners.
To get the truck rolling down the road, the stock Nissan engine was pulled out and a built GM 5.3L out of a 2000 GMC Yukon was made to fit. A custom cover was made and completely airbrushed to look like an American flag to make the engine a focal point when the front tilt hood is open.
Next on the schedule was to upgrade was the interior. Every bit of the factory interior was removed, including the steering wheel and gas pedal. A custom dash was fabricated to house the airplane gauges and six MTX vocal component speakers. A yoke off a Grumman airplane to replaces the steering wheel. For the console, an airplane throttle control is used in place of a gas pedal to complete the airplane feel to the interior. A pair of Ace Iron bomber seats replace the factory buckets. The door panels are riveted sheetmetal, while the extended section of the cab house the four 15-inch MTX subs and amps as well as a couple parachutes and other details. The dash and interior were painted to mimic the wear and tear inside a combat plane to ensure the details flowed throughout the interior.
With all the key parts in place, it was time to dial in the main focal point on Shane’s truck: the paint. Knowing a tribute truck had to have a very specific look with the paint, Shane reached out to Mickey Harris in Menno, South Dakota, to line up one of the airbrush paintjobs he has become famous for.
Once the truck was delivered to Mickey, the door handles, mirrors, fuel door, taillights, tailgate, wipers, and antenna were shaved before the white base paint was laid down. At this point, once Shane gave a few specific directions for some details he wanted in the paintwork, Mickey was set free to create the artwork he is known for. Starting on the passenger-side front corner with the founding of the US Navy and wrapping all the way around the truck to finish on the driver-side front corner of the truck with today’s version of the US Navy, the entire rise of this branch of the US Armed Forces is represented.
The more you look at the paintjob, the more surprises you’ll find. Even the smallest detail can be seen if you get down and really look at the paintwork. The hood is home to murals of Shane’s brother-in-law and father, as well as the boat his dad was on when he was in the Navy. The roof has the US Navy shield painted on it with just as many details as the rest of the truck.
With the truck complete, Shane kept the roads hot towing this truck to as many shows as he could. Not really worried about awards, Shane was more excited to have the crowds of people swarm the truck and to tell the story of why he built the truck and who it was built in remembrance of. The truck has not only been to numerous car and truck shows, but it has been used for a ton of military and veterans events, too.
Shane knows that the two veterans he built the truck for would be proud and realize it was their sacrifice and service that led to this masterpiece that is now able to be seen by so many people. Currently, the truck is in the Miles Through Time Automotive in Clarksville, Georgia, where it continues to draw a crowd.
Year/Make/Model: 2012 Nissan Frontier
I would like to thank my mom, my sister, and my brother for helping me build the truck and supporting me in it. I’d like to thank my artist Mickey Harris who had free reign of the truck; we trusted his instinct, and it was a blessing. I’d like to thank Shannon Herrboldt and Daryl Kirscheman for the bodywork, making it flawless, and for dropping the motor in. I couldn’t have done it without the support and this team.
Sign up now for the Motortopia newsletter!