Building trucks has to be a tough way to make a living. But, along with the backbreaking work comes a fair amount of return. For Jim Catron of Pleasant Hope, Missouri, the reward for working hard is having the means to play hard. He got into the automotive way of life many years ago, when he painted his first car at the age of 11 years old. Since then, Jim has been honing his skills as a fabricator and painter, and making a name for himself as a top-notch builder. For the last eight years, Jim has been running his own shop called Full Armor Customs in Springfield, Missouri.
This '02 Chevy Avalanche started life as Jim's daily driven work truck. It served its purpose until Jim had a revelation about building a vehicle that would showcase his work. Instead of 'bagging and body-dropping his truck, Jim chose to go in the opposite direction. To get the height that he wanted, he bolted up a Full Throttle 10-inch IFS kit and a custom Full Armor four-link out back, which provided enough lift to clear the 37-inch-tall tires. The rear four-link suspension was set up to ride on Phoenix airbags, which make it ride like a Cadillac, as well as provide massive ride height adjustment. To control that ride, 10 Pro Comp reservoir shocks keep this monster from bouncing uncontrollably every time the tires encounter a bump. Then, he installed Baer Brakes components, including 14-inch two-piece rotors, with Hawk Performance ceramic brake pads that lay the clamp down on the massive Jesse James wheels and Super Swamper tires.
"I have never been able to...
"I have never been able to leave anything alone." -Jim Catron
With the suspension out of the way, Jim started on the exterior features. He wanted his ride to look as clean as possible, so the factory body cladding was removed, sanded smooth, and reinstalled. A Goodmark ram-induction hood replaced the factory unit, and the truck was ready for the booth. To demonstrate his paint skills, the truck was taped off and coated with House of Kolor white. To add some color, Jim treated the hood, B-pillars, doors, and bumper with silver and black marble paint. Reassembling the truck, he ditched the front tow hooks, added a modified and painted Chevy Bow Tie, and made his own speed grilles. Aluminum steps, a billet fuel door, custom-made diamond-plate panels, Escalade door handles, and Buick LaCrosse fender vents were installed to accent the fresh paint.
Getting more power out of the 5.3L engine was a must for Jim, but he didn't want to crack the case open to do it. So, he flashed the computer with a Superchips programmer, then he added an AEM cold-air intake and throttle-body spacer, as well as a Gibson Performance exhaust that boosted the power of the small-block. With all the subtle motor mods, the 5.3L powerplant puts out an estimated 380 hp that works well with the 4.56:1 gears.
As for in-cab style, Jim performed most of the interior modifications. He built the fiberglass center console that ties into the bottom of the dash. He smoothed the dashboard and door panels, and covered them in white and marble paint. The Alpine head unit was moved from the stock location and placed into the center console, along with the Sound Storm DVD player and Audiobahn 10-inch subwoofers. Visual entertainment comes from a Pyle video monitor, which fills the void in the dash where the radio used to be. The seats have the factory leather, but it was re-stitched with alligator inserts. Finishing off the interior is a Colorado Custom steering wheel, wrapped in white leather.
There is no question that if someone wants to get noticed, a truck like this is sure to do the trick. And that is exactly what Jim wanted: to get the attention of consumers with a big beast of a truck that exhibits masterful detail work. Even better, the truck manages to bring home more than its share of top awards from just about every event that Jim enters it in.