"I really wanted to build...
"I really wanted to build the motor, but my brother Simon insisted on doing it, and he even put in the crankshaft from a Corvette our dad raced in the early '70s." -Gabe Sandoval
The Sandovals can be described as a family of motorheads who have gasoline in their veins and who are consumed by the need to wrench on their rides. With a father well into drag racing and mud racing, Gabe and his older brother, Simon, were exposed to raw-powered vehicles at a young age. When Simon was old enough to drive, he bought a little Toyota pickup and transformed it into a stylish mini-truck, which then inspired Gabe to toy around with a couple trucks, as well. Later, Gabe bought a Quad Cab Dodge Dakota to be customized. The Dodge had a 4.7L V-8 under the hood, a custom airbag suspension by Ekstensive Metalworks, and a flamed paintjob by Pat Maxwell. After driving it for a while, the Dakota quickly became old news and motivated Gabe to build a truck with his own two hands.
Gabe knew that tearing down a truck and building it from the frame up would be like an instinct to him. The talent was in Gabe's blood, and all he needed was to get his hands on an inexpensive truck that could be built with the proper work. While at his friend's shop, he spotted this '83 Chevy pickup sitting in the parking lot. It was everything Gabe was looking for and was just waiting to be worked on. His friend really wanted to build it but was too busy to do so. Gabe bugged him about selling the truck, and his friend finally gave in and let him snatch it for a measly $1,000.
Once the truck was at Gabe's home garage, he was able to assess its damage. Immediately, he knew the transmission was blown, the interior was a complete mess, the body was far from being straight or whole, and the firewall was practically rusted through. Once it was stripped down to the frame, Gabe made plans to build a 327-cid Chevy engine all by himself. While gathering some information on the procedure, his brother offered to completely build it as a contribution to the project. Even though Gabe wanted to build the truck by himself, Simon persisted and convinced Gabe to bring out the engine so he could help.
After the motor was finished, the next thing on the list was to get the body and frame cleaned and ready to sit on the ground over a set of 22-inch wheels. This involved raising the front crossmember up 2 inches and making new motor mounts and a new transmission crossmember. When it came time to build a step notch in the rear, Gabe had Bill Carlton of Ekstensive Metalworks perform this feat while keeping the frame straight. With the frame set, Gabe installed an airbag suspension and painted everything black. When he got to the body, he figured the old front clip had too much damage and needed to be updated to a version from the '85 model. With the front clip off, Gabe was able to fix the firewall by cutting new pieces of sheetmetal to match and shave. Then, it was shipped over to Kustom Werx to get blocked straight and painted PPG Scarlet Red.
After the paintwork was completed, the truck was taken back to Gabe's garage for the finish work. This included getting the factory bench seat and dash upholstered, as well as replacing all of the other interior pieces. After a few minor finishing parts were added, Gabe's truck was done, to say the least. Having the ability to wrench on trucks, his only obstacle was time. Since Gabe has a non-truck-related job, he was forced to work during his nights and weekends. While he spent many hours in the garage, his two kids were there to help him through every step along the way. We have no doubt that Gabe's kids have gained the skills to customize, as well.