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
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.
I own a '99 Ford F-150 with a 4.2L V-6 engine and a five-speed manual transmission. I want to build a console between the buckets and integrate it into the dash. My problem is I want to get rid of the big, ugly factory shifter and bring it back between the seats with a short shifter. Do you have any ideas on how this can be done?
SFX Performance offers a Hurst short-throw shifter for your truck for under 300 bucks. You can find it at:
I have an '05 Dodge Ram 1500 SLT. I tightened up the torsion-bar keys to lift up the front end, but when I did that the shocks started to bottom out. How do you adjust the shocks, or can you?
You can't adjust shock absorbers for length of travel. You can buy adjustable shocks that have a range of ride firmness or damping, but you can't change the length of the shock-absorber shaft. You can make minor height adjustments without changing shocks, but any significant increases or decreases in ride height require new shocks.
Regardless of whether you lower or lift a truck, you want to maintain the original amount of shock-absorber travel. Check with any of our advertisers that sell suspension components. They should be able to set you up with the ideal shocks for your truck.
I'm 6 feet 6 inches tall and I own a '72 Chevy Stepside pickup. I know you've answered questions before about increasing cab room by moving the gas tank and changing seats and so forth. I've done all those things, but I'm still not very comfortable.
I really like my truck and I don't have any plans to get rid of it, so I was thinking maybe it would be worthwhile to stretch the cab. I'm concerned about how the truck would look if I either stretched it as a traditional cab or if I added an extra window la current extended-cab designs? Which do you think would look better? Would one style be easier and/or less expensive than the other? What's the best way to go about this project?
The best way to go about an involved project such as stretching a cab is to engage the services of an automotive designer. If you don't do a lot of careful planning and design work you'll most likely end up with an ugly truck.
We've seen this series and '55-'59 Chevy pickups that have been stretched. The majority went the extra-window, extra-body-length-behind-the-doors route. Most of the versions we've seen were OK but not quite right. The best '67-'72 we've seen was the result of a talented designer and a talented builder. The cab was lengthened through the doors and the roof. It was also chopped slightly. A lot of subtle bodywork was required to make the cab look like a factory job.
One problem that you're facing is the fact that your truck has a Stepside bed. We think the stretched cab looks much better with a Fleetside bed. The Fleetside bed makes the whole truck look integrated. The Stepside could look chopped up. This is just our opinion, but we feel the same way about contemporary extended-cab pickups-they look best with Fleetside beds.
Neither approach is going to be easy and inexpensive. A good designer should be able to help you with cost issues as well as design ideas.
I have a black-on-black '87 Chevy Silverado shortbed pickup. Maybe I should amend that to say black-on-black-on-black, because I have black alloy wheels too. The chrome trim has all been blacked out, including the front bumper. The rear pan is rolled with a frenched license-plate holder.
I'm tired of the all-black look, but I don't want to repaint the truck. The current paintjob is one of the finest black paintjobs I've ever seen, so it would be a shame to undo it. I've thought about flames, but everybody does that. Do you have some ideas about how I could brighten up my truck and still keep the black paint?
Instead of doing something to the paint, why not brighten up the interior? Black and red are great contrasting colors. It's very common to see red trucks with black interiors but not so common to see the reverse. Redoing the interior in bright-red leather or vinyl would be much less expensive than repainting the body.
We've seen super-bright-red upholstery in black street rods and it's a wild look. When we say a red interior we mean the whole thing-steering wheel, dashpad, headliner, and carpet. Paint all interior metal surfaces the same bright red. A slightly less bold idea is to do the interior in orange-tan saddle leather such as you might see on an exotic Italian sports car.
If you go with the red, consider painting the inside of the bed red, also. We'd swap the black grille and bumper for chrome ones. Get some chrome spoke mags and use the same bright-red paint on the calipers and brake drums.
Is it legal to run a license plate in the back window of my truck? I just installed a rolled rear pan and don't want the plate back there.
Not in California. We're not vehicle code experts (as the fine print says, check your local regulations), but besides the possible glass glare you probably don't have the plate properly illuminated. One quick way to find out is to do a burnout in front of a cop.
On a more serious note, if you didn't see the SEMA Show new products coverage in the March issue, check out the retractable license-plate kit that AVS offers. The example shown rises and retracts out of the top of the tailgate. More info is available at www.airbagparts.com.
I frequent the Carlisle (PA) Truck Nationals when I can. I saw a vendor there that was selling a replica of a '41 Willys pickup that sits on an S-10 chassis, but I failed to get info on this. I have searched the Internet to the best of my abilities and have come up empty-handed. Does this ring a bell to you? I am interested in converting my '94 if I can find more information. Thanks, and keep up the good work with the greatest magazine out there!
Willys Hot Rods by Auto Classics offers the kit you're after, Mike. The company manufactures fiberglass replica '33 and '41 Willys coupe and pickup bodies that will fit Chevy S-10 and S-15 chassis. The coupe requires shortening the chassis to the original 102-inch wheelbase of the Willys, but the pickup will fit without modding the chassis much. The shop offers some bitchen mods for the Willys such as a gasser-style body or street-rod body with suicide doors. For more information, visit
Can you still tow with a truck that has airbags?
You can definitely tow a trailer or your boat with an air suspension. In a lot of cases, you can achieve the same load-carrying capability as a stock truck or increase it depending on what size airbag you install and where you position it in relation to the rear axle. For bolt-on applications, we suggest checking out the kits from any of the suspension manufacturers advertising in Sport Truck.
The current high gas prices are killing me. I don't know where they're going to stop, but I'm sick of it. I want to keep driving my '91 Chevy S-10, but even the 4.3L V-6 isn't exactly a gas miser. I thought about swapping in a 2.2L inline-four from a similar truck, but I'd still like to have a little more power.
I remember that a neighbor had an '81 Cadillac with a variable-displacement engine. I think it was called the V-8-6-4 or the other way around. Could that technology be adapted to my truck so that it could run as a six-cylinder when I need power and a four-cylinder when I'm cruising the highway?
Would I have to find one of those Cadillacs and take everything related to the system and modify it to fit my truck? Could I adapt the Cadillac system so that I could manually control the number of cylinders firing from the cab? What do you think?
We think that if you're smart enough to figure out all the technology necessary to make a variable-displacement system work on an older truck then you probably have some incredibly high-paying job, so gas prices don't bother you.
Can you remember the last time you saw one of those early-'80s V8-6-4 fuel-injection Cadillacs on the road? We can't, and we don't think you would have much luck finding an intact, working system from one. That engine was a dud. It was rough running and quite unpopular. We think that engine probably set GM back two decades on the variable-displacement concept. The present Displacement on Demand GM engines are very nice, but the same can't be said for those old Caddies.
Even if you could find a Cadillac with all of the components, you'd need to be an electronics genius to make it work. It was a very complex system that had many subsystems involving buffer amplifiers, computer command controls, vehicle speed sensors, ECM programs, etc.
Our suggestion is to keep your V-6 in top tune and drive as smoothly as possible to obtain the optimum mileage your truck is capable of delivering. Don't bother swapping in the 2.2L four-cylinder engine from another S-10 because that is quite possibly the lamest motor on earth. Leaky head gaskets, freeze plugs, and other maladies are quite common with that powerplant. Your 4.3L V-6 is a keeper.
I wrote you a letter two years ago that you published. In the letter, I apologized to you because as a police officer I was embarrassed that you were targeted by another member of law enforcement and it forced you to sell a project. Well, you told me to keep you updated on my truck. I went on to two-tone the truck and body-drop it. Currently, it's being completely shaved, and a cali combo has been installed. A 56-inch LED is my new brake light, and new paint will be sprayed this month. Thanks!
Your truck looks great, Darryl. I have only one question: Have any of your law enforcement brethren pulled you over for those illegal LED taillights yet? -Mike
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