John Mata Jr. October 05, 2023 Chevrolet
A definitive list of iconic trucks considered legendary titans in our industry exists—and this flamed-out Chevy is one of them.
Built way back in 1999 to be a rolling truck-shaped menu of its latest wares, Billet Specialties’ 1997 Chevy pickup defined what an ideal sport truck looked like. It sat low but had a noticeable rear rake. It had a staggered set of billet wheels with wide rear meats. It featured expertly executed body mods and paint that met the same standards that seasoned hot-rod builders aspired for. This Chevy was the perfect example of what truck fans of the day wanted for their ride. But once the style moved into different directions (as it does), it was displayed less and less until it was covered and packed away in a shady part of the warehouse. The once-fiery truck had become a distant memory of a bygone era.
Thankfully, the esthetic of those early sport truck days has come back around full circle. What was once cool then is now cool again, and there’s nothing better to solidify that than revisiting the few surviving relics from the original golden days.
Glenn Grozich of Billet Specialties may have already known that this day would come, because he made no effort throughout the years to sell off the flamed-out OBS pickup that was once a landmark of his brand’s identity. When asked whatever happened to this truck, Glenn not only told us where it has been all this time, but he went one step further by bringing it out, dusting it off, and allowing us to get an up-close inspection of what originally made this truck so damn cool nearly a quarter century ago.
There is a definitive list of iconic trucks that are considered legendary titans in our industry—this flamed-out Chevy is one of them.
When Glenn was originally sourcing out the work to get this truck built back in ’99, he was interested in only one place for having the suspension lowered. Dean Sears of Sport Trucks by Dean, located in Moorpark, California, was recruited to not only lower the truck but to perform a rather radical slam featuring suspension components from another influential brand of the time. A complete 5/7-inch drop was slated to commence utilizing nothing but Belltech products. Front lowering spindles and springs along with a rear flip kit with 2-inch drop shackles and a frame C-notch were piled up and installed. This setup was and still is an industry standard in creating a slammed static stance on just about any full-size pickup.
To add some additional comfort and utility to the rearend of the suspension system, Dean also included Belltech’s AirJack rear assist air bags with an onboard air compressor, which was definitely something revolutionary for that period. Air shocks had been utilized here and there, but having an integrated air source to adjust air pressure on the fly was definitely an up-and-coming trend that was starting to be explored more. This modification would allow the counteraction of a sagging rear end due to hauling a heavy cargo load or a group of ’90s high-waisted bikini babes a la the old Belltech magazine ads.
Built way back in 1999 to be a rolling truck-shaped menu of its latest wares, Billet Specialties’ 1997 Chevy pickup defined what an ideal sport truck looked like.
A complete 5/7-inch drop was slated to commence utilizing nothing but Belltech product.
The factory brake system was soon upgraded with Baer parts, and a set of Billet Specialties wheels specifically designed to fit this new and exciting sport truck segment were mounted. Of course, the wheels that were originally put on have been updated to a modern set of 20-inch SLC 62 billets, which is still very reminiscent of the 5-spoke design that was once featured on the truck back in the late ’90s.
When Dean was finished lowering the truck, he sent it on its way to Amarillo, Texas, where Mark Warrick of Soncy Road Body Shop was eagerly awaiting the Chevy’s arrival. To first get the truck smoothed out, Mark and crew began by creating a custom front bumper with a Frenched license plate recess, a one-off rear roll pan that was welded in, as well as an ultra-clean flush-mounted aluminum tonneau bed cover that flows seamlessly with the truck’s natural bodylines.
…the wheels that were originally put on have been updated to a modern set of 20-inch SLC 62 billets…
The next phase of the project was to settle on how to create an eye-grabbing paint job. Since these trucks were being approached as modern day hot rods during that time, nothing less than a red-hot, traditional-style flame job would do. Soncy Road Body Shop’s own custom-mixed red served as the base, and once the flames were applied to the surface, Mark then proceeded to add a full-size Billet Specialties logo on the bed cover to fully allow this truck to make its mark once it hit the show scene.
Since these trucks were being approached as modern day hot rods during that time, nothing less than a red-hot, traditional-style flame job would do.
Since Billet Specialties offers much more than wheels, a wide assortment of dress-up hardware was peppered throughout the engine bay. The billet parts that were put into place came very close to outshining the Whipple supercharger that was planted atop the 5.7L engine, but they perfectly complement its presence underneath the hood. The same methodology was used inside the cab as well with the inclusion of a Billet Specialties’ steering wheel, column shifter, gauge and dash bezels, pedals, and other accessories that were designed to take ’88-’98 trucks to elevated levels of customization.
Since Billet Specialties offers much more than wheels, a wide assortment of dress-up hardware was peppered throughout the engine bay.
While this truck was out of sight and mind for so long, its return to the surface has been well-received by those who remember it quite fondly. Those who have had the genuine pleasure of geeking out over it for the very first time have seemed to love it equally as much. With the popularity of OBS pickups on the rise, it’s great to have an actual surviving example of one in its original customized state. As per Glenn’s wishes, the truck will be taken to as many shows as possible, so catch it alongside a Billet Specialties display nearest you. Sure, it can be revisited at any time by flipping through this magazine copy, but this is just one of those trucks that should seen in the flesh if and when the opportunity presents itself.
The same methodology was used inside the cab as well with the inclusion of a Billet Specialties’ steering wheel, column shifter, gauge and dash bezels, pedals and other accessories that were designed to take ’88-’98 trucks to elevated levels of customization.
Those who have had the genuine pleasure of geeking out over it for the very first time have seemed to love it equally as much.
Glenn Grozich /
1997 Chevy Pickup
La Grange, IL
WHEELS, TIRES & BRAKES
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