Stephen Addison, from Hobe Sound, Florida, set his sights on a custom truck early. Working in the family drywall business while in high school, he used the money he earned to buy his first ride. The '94 S-10 that he bought in 1998 had some minor customizing mods already, and his original plan was that a new set of rims would probably be enough. It wasn't long, however, before Stephen realized he developed an addiction to slammed, custom-painted trucks. If you're reading this magazine, you know that sometimes, surrendering to your addiction can be a wonderful thing.

Although still in high school, Stephen didn't waste any time, replacing the lowrider-style 15-inch rims and cut springs with more modern components. The first series of modifications was launched, thanks to the help of Florida Street Dreams in Stuart, Florida, which shaved the tailgate, molded-in the Sir Michaels rear pan and flip kit, and added the Gaylord's tonneau cover. The first round of changes was more than enough for a kid in high school, but about the time he was a freshman in college, he decided it was time to take his truck to the next level.

Since you can't rise above the rest unless you can really get down, Addison chose Master Image Customs air suspension components to alter the altitude of his S-10. He selected an effective mix of 2,400-pound 'bags, Blitz Luft compressor, 5-gallon reserve tank, 3/8-inch lines, and MIC switches and gauges. Although the products were good, the shop that did the installation failed to reinforce the chassis when it installed the C-notch, resulting in a bent frame. The monoleaf rear spring that the shop used wound up breaking, damaging the transmission on its way out and adding more cost to the mess-up. The mistakes were quite a setback, but the goal was perfection, and Stephen found another shop to correct the major problems, while redoing much of the air suspension by himself. Coming out better than before, the upgrades included KP Components' triangulated four-link rear, shocks, and a cantilever setup for the airbags. The frontend uses a Western Chassis 2-inch drop spindle combined with a set of Toxic Shocks that's not quite as fancy as the rear setup but just as functional.

Once the suspension problems were corrected and the truck was comfortably in the weeds, Stephen began the task of modifying the sheetmetal, replacing the '94 front end with a '98 version, filling in the driving light openings for a smoother look, and adding a Street Scene valence. A T-Rex billet grille was installed with APC euro corners up front and equally cool Elegante taillights by TYC in the rear. The gas door was welded shut and the door handles shaved, and Street Scene Sport sideview mirrors were installed at the same time. With the Gaylord's tonneau cover still protecting the contents, the tweaked bed uses an old-school flat-black paintjob to accentuate the flame-painted reserve tank for the air suspension and the Optima rear battery, accented with billet trim pieces.

A small starter stereo had been installed for some basic entertainment, but as the truck improved, the fledgling sound system had to go. Beginning with Dynamat in the doors, the current component mix uses a pair of Audiobahn amplifiers totaling 2,200 watts, with the larger 1,500-watt unit powering the pair of 10-inch Audiobahn subs and the second 500-watt amp energizing the front stage. The 6-1/2-inch separates, mids, and highs in the doors are augmented by the 4x6-inch coaxial speakers in the upper dash location. Controlling the sounds is a Kenwood 817 head unit. Below the head unit, Stephen added the MIC Hi Flow billet aluminum control panel that holds individual switches and gauges for each airbag. The polished Colorado Custom wheel keeps him in close touch with his truck, and the matching Trenz billet accents around the interior continue the theme. Even the dashboard got the hot-lick treatment, with subtle flames painted on the gauges. Wrapping up the interior, Addison replaced the original bench seat, choosing buckets from a '96 Blazer and rejuvenating them with silver and dark-gray Katzkin covers.

Under the hood, several different accessories from Trenz and Cool Flex add a little dazzle to the engine room. The 2.2L four-cylinder benefits from a Sport Truck Specialties air intake fitted with a K&N filter, along with a Flowmaster exhaust. Lots of underhood accessories were painted to match the Deep Metallic Red exterior. Chet at Florida Street Dreams handled the spray gun chores, accenting the new red hue with silver flames outlined in bronze. The interesting flame pattern starts at the hood, then travels along the sides and top of the tonneau cover for a dramatic bird's-eye view. A whole new set of flames heats up the area under the hood. Boyd Coddington 18-inch wheels wrapped in Kumho tires complete the exterior.

The truck has now advanced to show status only and sees the road just a few times each month. Looking back, Stephen remembers all the good parts as well as a few of the calamities as well. In addition to the frame problems and transmission failure, the rear pan was damaged while rolling too low and the door was ripped off in an accident. It was a challenge for a while as to whether or not he would even keep the truck. Now that everything is sorted out, however, Stephen plans to enjoy his first custom truck for quite some time. Future mods call for a set of 20-inch rims and regular ongoing changes. Right now he is happy that his luck has changed, everything is together, and he is able to thoroughly enjoy the completed vehicle. Great trucks don't occur in a vacuum, so special thanks go to Stephen's wife Emily, Mom and Dad, Ryan, Matt, Tristan, Chet, Dave, Stro, Danny, Garr, Bobby, Cliff, Tommy, Sam, John, Randy, Mark, Jon, Scott, Jason, Mark, and Jeff.