How So Low?
I'd like my '03 Chevy S-10 to be as low and slick as the ones I see in the sketchpad articles in magazines. I don't just want to be low. I want to run at least 22-inch rims and maybe 24-inchers. My concern is that my truck won't look as trick as the ones in the sketches. It appears to me that those trucks sometimes have wheels that might not fit inside the fenders.

Is it possible to get a real truck that low and still run huge rims? If I hired one of those illustrators to sketch my truck, would they have ideas about how to achieve maximum lowness? Can you tell me how much those guys charge and where I can get a hold of them?
Rory Brown
via e-mail

How do illustrators get trucks (and cars) so low? They cheat. They also know that no one drives a drawing. There's no need to steer a drawing, so little nuisances such as suspension clearances don't concern illustrators. Some of the wilder drawings should really have wheel blisters, like a Funny Car, to provide tire clearance.

In defense of the illustrators, these drawings are often referred to as concept drawings. They're providing a stylized ideal of the look, not engineering blueprints. If you look at the progression of concept illustration to concept show vehicle to production vehicle, you'll see that the product that reaches the market is considerably less slick than either the drawing or the concept vehicle.

Most illustrators are better versed in how to make a truck look great, rather than the mechanical aspects. They know how to make body lines and panels flow and how to make visual changes via paint schemes.

As for finding an illustrator and how much they charge, your best bet is the internet. Check the credits of published illustrators. Many of them include a web address. If not, most of these guys can be found with a Google search or try their name followed by dot com.

Prices are an individual matter, but most of the illustrators we know of charge a minimum of several hundred dollars. It's the old question of how much of their time you want. Time is money, and most illustrators charge according to the time involved.

Even though a couple sketches might seem a little expensive, it's really money well spent. This is especially true when it comes to paintjobs. It's much cheaper to pay several hundreds to see how different paint schemes look on paper, rather than pay many thousands for a paintjob you don't like.

What About The Other Stuff?
I am a reader and big fan of your magazine. I think Sport Truck magazine is the best on the market. The articles are good, and it's not serious and uptight like some of the other truck magazines. This is why I choose to read it over the others. On the other hand, I have noticed that at most of the truck show events, you enter only pictures of rides with full air drops or lifts jacked up to the sky. Personally, I am a big fan of the drop and slam, but when there is nothing else special about the truck, I think it's a waste of ink on your pages. All trucks look the same in the air or on the ground, for the most part. However, there are a lot of trucks with great paintjobs, custom stereo interiors, and built motors that have a lot of talent, work, and money invested that can replace these spots.
Jason Elwell
El Paso, Texas

So, what you're saying is that stock-looking trucks that are insanely low or high aren't as cool as trucks with stock suspensions and insanely cool paintjobs and stereos? You might be right, but we haven't seen too many mildly dropped or lifted trucks at shows lately that made us want to grab our cameras for a photo shoot. Thanks for the props, and if you feel your truck is pretty cool, then by all means send us some snaps, so we can put it in the mag.

Your Lucky Day!
Could you help me out and inform me if you have ever printed a tech article about an '02-'06 Escalade front-end conversion on a '99-'06 fullsize GM? Please let me know, so I can get a back issue. Thanks.
Z. Arredondo
via e-mail

You must have eaten a whole box of Lucky Charms this morning, because in this very magazine you'll find the front-end swap you're looking for.

Get My Drift?
I love to watch the NOPI drifter cars on TV, and I like watching them in person even better. My thing is trucks, but I was wondering if a guy could be a successful drifter in a fullsize pickup? I think that would be crazy-wild, and I bet the spectators would love it.

I drive a '91 Chevy 454 SS. I've entered it in a couple burnout contests, and it's done real well. It's definitely got the power to fry the tires, so I'm thinking it could work well drifting. What do you think?
Jeremy Voss
via e-mail

Smoke 'em, if you got 'em. We'd pay good money to watch you drift a big old 454 SS. Hey, it has rear-wheel drive and tons of torque (405 lb-ft net torque at 2,400 rpm), although horsepower is a little light at 155 net at 4,000 rpm. The factory handling package, Bilstein gas shock absorbers, and locking rear differential with 4.10 gears would seem to be performance-oriented. This wasn't bad for a truck in 1991, but a 454 SS is no sports car. All the ones we've driven seem very light and bouncy in the rear end. We think the nose-heavy weight bias has a lot to do with you winning burnout contests.

We like the idea of drifting trucks, but we don't think your truck has the right stuff, at least not in stock form.

Why, Why, Why
I got one for you: an '04 Chevy TrailBlazer LT 4x4. I have yet to see them make a mag or web page yet that features a TrailBlazer. My only question is why? I need help finding out what my options are as far as customizing my TrailBlazer. I want to go up about 4 to 6 inches and hook up some 40s or something on it. Can you send me in the right direction? If a Yukon and a Suburban can go up, then so can I. Thanks a lot.
LCPL Harden, USMC
Cherry Point, North Carolina

Why? Because...because I said so...go ask your mother. Did you ever notice how similar the words why and whine are? Enough about our poor parenting skills. As occasionally objective journalists, we simply report and photograph trends-we don't start them-we have been known to flog our favorites to death, but we don't start them. This is a golden opportunity for you to be a trendsetter. When taller TrailBlazers are built, we'll photograph them.

We don't think your height aspirations are unreasonable, but 40s are a lot of tire. That doesn't mean it can't be done-the only real "can't" in truck customizing is "I can't afford it."

You need to find a qualified shop that specializes in lifted trucks. The best way to find a top-notch shop is to attend shows and find trucks you admire with custom fabrication work, not just a bunch of bolt-on parts. Talk to the owners, or check show placards for shop credits, and get recommendations. When your TrailBlazer is up where you want it, send us some photos.

Bed Swapping
I have an '86 Chevy C10 Fleetside shortbed pickup. I'd like to swap the bed for something newer and more stylish. I've seen my era trucks and even older ones with Stepside beds from '90s GM pickups. Some look better than others, but I'm not sure why.

I've even thought about swapping on a bed from a Ford or Dodge pickup. Do you think this would work? How can I tell which beds would fit? I'd appreciate some suggestions.

Thanks and keep up the good work on an awesome mag.
Kyle Schlesinger
via e-mail

We've seen lots of newer beds installed on older-generation pickups. The most popular bed for swapping seems to be the '88-and-later Chevy/GMC Sportside box. We've never cared for the stylized "steps" on either side of the fender. We much prefer the '73-'86 Stepside box, but that's just us.

Personal preferences aside, the biggest problem with bed swaps is making the body lines of the old cab work with the lines on the newer bed. Spend some time studying the lines of your truck and those of any truck you're contemplating using a bed from. Each cab/bed combo works very well as designed, but they rarely, if ever, match up between truck series.

Another big problem with bed swaps is the wheelwell openings. We've seen '88-and-later Sportside beds installed on '67-'72 C10s and the mismatched wheelwells stuck out like sore thumbs. The '67-'72 wheelwell is rounded, and the '88-and-later Chevys have rectangular openings. A truck that got this bed swap right did so by grafting '88 wheelwells to the '67-'72 front fenders.

One way around the styling line mismatch problem is to counter it with a two-tone paint scheme. Your truck has a very distinct styling line that runs above the front wheelwells and across the middle of the doors. If the paint was two-toned at this point and carried on to the newer bed, that would disguise styling line problems. Using black or another dark color on top would be a good choice.

Bed width is a potential problem, although GM bed sizes are relatively constant. Using a Ford or Dodge bed could be more problematic. Mounting a different bed isn't a problem, though. A little drilling or bracket fabrication should handle any mounting differences.

Wheelbase differences can be a big issue. A lot of measuring should be done before attempting a bed swap. If there is a noticeable problem, you'll probably need to alter the rear axle location. If you're installing another Fleetside-style bed, it's easier to cut and relocate the wheelwells. You could move the fenders on an older Stepside, such as using a '73-'87 box on a pre-'73 truck, but this could effect the bed/fender proportions. Newer Sportside beds with their integrated fenders would be tough to move.

A good way to explore bed swap options is to enlist the help of a professional illustrator. They can do sketches to show how proposed swaps would look.

Got Something To Say?
E-mail your letters to mike.finnegan@primedia.com, and we'll make you famous. Give your city a shout-out and include it in your e-mail.

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