Old-school enthusiasts will tell you that real men build their own trucks. They'll also add, with a wink, that it's almost always cheaper to buy your next truck than it is to build one. When you add the cost of the parts to the time you spend putting them together, you become intimately acquainted with the term labor of love. For those with the time, tools, talent, and space, building your own full custom certainly becomes an unforgettable experience. But what if you don't have a two-car garage, your toolbox is the junk drawer in the kitchen, and your career consumes most of the hours in your day? Will the truck you create be the one of your dreams, or will the constant drain on your time and bank account turn it into a nightmare?
Buying a completed truck has some distinct advantages, since the one that catches your eye will obviously be a step in the right direction. Often, you can road-test the vehicle, evaluating its performance, handling, comfort, and a host of other factors that you could only guess at if you started from scratch. Finally, there's the instant gratification of driving it home that day instead of waiting months or years before you're finally behind the wheel.
Ricky and Lisa Miles faced that same decision. They work hard in the family land reclamation business in Lakeland, Florida. Working with the phosphate mines in central Florida, they return the land to its natural state after mining operations are complete. Miles already owns a Pro Street '48 Ford F-100 fitted with a 400 small-block Chevrolet V-8 running a 13.1 compression, Brodix aluminum heads, tunnel ram with dual quads, custom headers, tubbed bed, suicide doors, chopped top, and huge attention-getting wing.
The monster machine is great fun, but both Ricky and Lisa wanted something a little more streetable, something they could compete with at shows with their four children, all of whom are avid auto enthusiasts. Turning to the Internet, Ricky began looking for just the right truck for their needs. When he saw the fullsize body-dropped '94 Chevy Silverado Chevy built by Bryant and Deanna Adams from Birmingham, Alabama, Miles loved the combination of custom paint, airbag suspension, and spacious interior. He started bidding, won, sent his check, and arranged to have the truck shipped to his home in Lakeland, Florida. The six-week wait was a tense one, since he bought the Chevy sight unseen, but when it arrived, he was thrilled.
Sporting a 3-inch body drop, a custom roll pan, a Trenz billet grille, a cowl-induction hood, 18-inch American Racing wheels fitted with 18x8-inch Nitto rubber, a rigid tonneau cover, and custom paint, the truck not only had all the right stuff, but it looked even better in person than in its pictures.
When Miles popped the hood, things improved even more. The engine room was filled with tasteful billet accents, and the detailed 350 V-8 was upgraded with a 650-cfm Edelbrock carburetor and manifold, plus Lotech shorty headers flowing into a 2-1/2-inch exhaust. The Turbo 350 transmission twists a blue-powdercoated driveshaft that's connected to an Auburn Posi-traction rear. The frame and suspension were also powdercoated to match the exterior. In addition to the body drop, the frontend uses Belltech 2-inch drop spindles with the inner fender panels removed for clearance. Floor cutouts in the bed created space for the silver-powder-coated rear axle with C-notched frame, TCI triangulated four-link, and TCI 'bags at all four corners. The mildly tubbed bed holds the twin 5-gallon reserve tanks for the air suspension, 20-gallon fuel cell, and battery enclosure.
Opening the door for the first time was a treat, seeing the gray-leather and electric-blue-tweed interior that uses reupholstered '95 Rodeo seats, custom center console, Dakota Digital dashboard, and more carefully chosen billet accessories. Individual switches and gauges in the center console control the truck's altitude, while the Kenwood stereo adds to the fun on road trips. Ricky does not plan to check sound quality from a block away, so the current system, even without a massive collection of subs, is just fine.
As a matter of fact, everything about the truck was a pleasant surprise. From the original builder, Miles learned that the Chevy had been completely disassembled during the customizing process, underscoring the quality of the job. The PPG Viper Blue paint with biomechanical graphics was done by Twisted Customs in Alabama, which created the unique artwork outside, ran it through the doorjambs, and continued it down to the frame and undercarriage.
Ricky and Lisa couldn't be more pleased with their new truck. The Chevy is much more comfortable, quiet, and civilized than their loud, hard-riding (but ultra-fast!) Ford. And because of that, it gives them a chance to spend time with family and club members in Extreme Customs, attending truck shows around central Florida. Buy or build? It may not work the same for everybody, but Ricky and Lisa are certainly pleased with the outcome.