There are always going to be obstacles when you set out to be the first at anything in life. When a kid from Ohio named Neil Armstrong bounced around on that big rock we like to call the moon for the first time, there were tons of people holding their breath at NASA while they watched his every step. Although building the first 'bagged Chevy Colorado isn't exactly rocket science, there were plenty of people here at Sport Truck headquarters who were watching their e-mail inbox on a daily basis for updates from Clean Cut Creations, just to see the step-by-step battle to build the first custom Colorado.
The owner of the truck, Joann Kuehl, purchased the first Colorado that was dropped off to the dealer's lot in her hometown of Saint Louis, Missouri, right when the calendar year was advancing from oh-three to oh-four. The honeymoon period with her new truck came and went as fast as the cash for the down payment filtered through her bank account. From the lot, it was a straight beeline to Clean Cut Creations, where John Meyer was ready and willing to tear apart the truck that Chevy had spent years developing.
John and Joann had been working through different design elements with Robbie from Kutting Edge Graphix months before the truck was actually in their hands, anticipating the obstacles they would have to overcome. Simple touches such as billet grilles had yet to be manufactured for the truck, so a call was put in to the folks at Kaik Products. Kaik, well-known for creating custom one-off billet accessories, had John remove the grille shell and send it to the company's Arlington, Texas, facility, where the crew began creating the billet grille that would brighten up the front end of the Colorado.
In the meantime, all eyes were turned to the suspension on the mini-truck. It was easy enough to see that in order to get the newcomer on the ground, there would need to be some serious suspension modifications. John hooked up with Air Ride Technologies in Jasper, Indiana, where the crew there pored over the new suspension and came up with a game plan that would leave the truck planted on the ground.
The game plan included using existing suspension components on the front of the truck, since manufacturers had yet to build drop spindles or control arms. Air Ride began by cutting away the front suspension and replacing the control arms with the company's own tubular arms. Air Ride then added Fatman Fabrications Mustang II drop spindles and brakes, as well as its own Shockwave airbags.
Out back, the frame was notched to allow the rearend to get sucked up when the suspension was cycled. To keep the rearend in line, a custom four-link was fabricated and controlled via a set of Shockwave 'bags. Each of the four 'bags was plumbed with 3/8-inch line and fed from a set of VIAIR 450 compressors. An Air Ride Technologies E-panel was wired up inside the cab to control the ride height.
The transmission crossmember, which hangs down an ungodly amount on the new Colorados, was removed and replaced with a custom tubular version that would clear when the truck was aired out. To raise the gas tank up an additional 3 inches, a custom crossmember was fabricated and bolted into place. As with most 'bagged trucks, the stock exhaust did nothing but get in the way, so a MagnaFlow Hot Rod Kit was routed beneath the truck to solve all the clearance issues as well as give the truck a nice growl. To finish it off, 20- and 22-inch Billet Specialties SLX08 wheels were stuffed under the wheelwells and wrapped in Pirelli rubber.
Once the truck was set up with the new Air Ride suspension, it was taken back to Clean Cut Creations and prepared for paint. John started by shaving the tailgate handle and getting rid of the plastic-cladding look by smoothing the stock mirrors and door handles. To set the bed down over the new suspension, the bed floor was cut out, raised 8-1/2 inches, and then welded back into place. The 10-inch rims posed a slight problem with the rear quarters, so they were bulged a few inches for clearance. The rear factory bumper was thrown aside, and a roll pan that was originally manufactured for an S-10 was stretched to fit the back of the truck. Up front, the factory grille was reinstalled, complete with the new Kaik billet grille.
John then went to work masking off the multitude of flames that engulfs the Colorado from head to tail. Using Sikkens Victory Red, as well as a custom mix of orange and yellow to fade the tips of each lick, the flames were sprayed over a solid-black base and then highlighted with lime-green pinstriping. After several coats of clear, the truck now had the proper stance as well as a sweet set of flames. The only thing left to tackle was the interior.
The two front buckets and the rear fold-down seats were removed from the truck and relieved of their factory covers. A call was placed to Katzkin Leather Interiors in Montebello, California, and a new set of seat covers was sent out in the mail. A few days later, a brand-new set of red-leather covers with black-ostrich inserts was ready to install over the factory cushions.
John and Joann debuted the slammed Colorado in Greenville at this year's Showfest parked in the Air Ride Technologies booth. As a testament to their work, there was constantly a crowd around the truck, checking out every angle of it. A special thanks goes out to Air Ride, Kaik Products, Katzkin, MagnaFlow, John Copeland of Sikkens, John Meyer Sr., Matt Beamon, and Richard Kuehl for helping Clean Cut Creations pump out the first 'bagged Colorado to roll through the show circuit.
Since the Colorado is a new production model, there weren't many aftermarket parts available to 'bag the truck. Air Ride Technologies used tubular control arms, Mustang II spindles and brakes, as well as Shockwave 'bags up front. The frame had to be notched in order to let the Colorado lay out. A new transmission crossmember was fabricated to replace the bulky version that the factory uses. The rear of the truck uses a four-link that is triangulated off the custom gas-tank crossmember and controlled using an additional set of Shockwave 'bags.