Tiki Truck
I have an '01 GMC Sierra SLT Extended Cab pickup that I'm doing up in a tiki lounge motif. To that end, I've painted the truck an assortment of wild candy greens with palm tree graphics and tiki god masks. The upholstery looks like old Polynesian lounge-chair fabric.

What I'm working on now is the bed, and I'm looking for some ideas. I'd like to do the bed floor in either bamboo or sand. I realize sand isn't very practical, but I'm intrigued by the idea. Bamboo is probably more doable, but should I use bamboo flooring material or real bamboo shoots?

Another idea that I've been kicking around is mounting tiki torches in the four corner bed-stake pockets. I wonder if I could pipe in propane so they would actually ignite and burn. Any ideas on this?

I'm also open to any other suggestions you might have related to my theme.
Justin Van Der Mer
via e-mail

We like where you're going with your truck. We saw this theme done on a '60 Rambler two-door wagon. The builder used real bamboo stalks for a tubular grille, and he used them for rub rails ( la Chevy Nomad) on the tailgate (you could do this to your tailgate). The Rambler also had a surfboard roof rack built out of bamboo. Small items like the license-plate frame were all made out of bamboo.

As for your bed floor, we think either sand or bamboo would work well. We'll deal with the sand first. While you obviously can't have loose sand, you could get a spray-on bedliner and paint it to look like sand. You could ask the installers to add more grit in a random fashion to make it look more like real sand. You could also paint on some seashells, beach grasses, and/or starfish.

For the bamboo floor, what material you use depends on how much you use your truck. If you were strictly show, then using real bamboo stalks would be cool. The idea would be to split the stalks, protect them with a clear urethane covering, and glue them to the bed floor. It would help to make the bed floor flat by filling in the low areas between the metal ribs.

Another possibility for using real bamboo and still having a functional truck bed would be to make a plywood bed insert and mount the bamboo on it. Then the whole unit could be removed when you needed to haul stuff.

The removable floor could be done quicker and easier with manufactured bamboo flooring. A home center or flooring specialist should be able to hook you up with simulated or real bamboo veneer flooring. You would install it on the subfloor just like you would in a kitchen.

As for the tiki torches, it's a neat idea and doable, but it might invite a little too much law enforcement attention. Maybe removable torches that you only lit when parked would be more prudent.

To plumb and ignite the torches would require a propane tank and some type of manifold for running propane to four torches. If you wanted fire and safety, you could add an onboard fire suppression system like they have on racecars. That's a lot of work for some flames and you'd hate to see your tiki lounge burn.

A safer idea would be to build the torches, but instead of real fire use red, yellow, and orange LED lights to simulate flames.