Chris Caldwell is one of those talented guys who can pretty much build a vehicle with his own two hands. He has the skills to weld together a full frame out of bare steel and can even paint a vehicle to a glass-like shine. He works as the shop manger of Chaotic Rods & Customs and has owned a few nice rides himself. The most notable vehicle in his past is a '94 Chevy Suburban outfitted with '59 Cadillac taillights and a fully flaked-out paintjob. It was a cool, retro-themed SUV, but Chris sold it so he could work on the next big thing.
This time around, Chris decided to take a crack at GM's newly designed '07 Chevy Silverado. If you're an avid reader of Sport Truck, you probably remember seeing this truck on the cover of the November '07 issue, though it was a lot different back then and was still in its factory white paintjob. Despite the fact that it looked stock, it caught our eyes because it was the first 'bagged and body-dropped version of the new Silverado truck.
When we first saw photos of Chris's truck, we were in awe and more than happy to meet up with him at Chaotic for a cover shoot. Chris had made a mad rush to drop the truck and meet our print deadline. To do this, he ditched the new factory frame and suspension in order to build his own body-drop-less chassis. Chris explained that in order to have a minimal amount of negative camber with big wheels attached, it had to be done this way.
After our shoot, Chris continued to spend every bit of his free time slaving away on his truck in order to have it done for the SEMA Show. Because we shot the truck right outside the shop, Chris rolled it right back in and completed everything to get it mobile again. He was then able to drive the truck for a little while and enjoy the fruits of his labor. Soon enough, it had to be blown apart for a complete custom paintjob and left in the shop. While dismantled, the body was shaved along with the inside of the tubbed and notched bed.
The hardest part of the shave job on this Chevy was the tailgate because there was no upper rail under the plastic lip. Chris filled in this top section of the tailgate with sheetmetal to match it to the rest of the bed. Then, the handle was shaved and Chris made a push-release out of an oval-shaped piece of sheetmetal. He cut a hole for it on the tailgate and created a lever system to release the locks when pushed. Chris also airbrushed the Chaotic logo on the button to hide it in the paint.
With the exterior of the truck finished in a high-quality shine, the interior also needed its share of love. To clean up the rather classy factory interior, Chris smoothed and painted the front pillar covers, upper door panels, and upper pieces of the dash. To showcase the nasty Rockford Fosgate audio system, speaker pods were fiberglassed and attached to the door panels. Next, a custom center console that hosts three subwoofers was built from wood and fiberglass. To operate the system, Chris purchased a mobile computer from CompuRide Technologies.
The last goal for this truck involved the ability to tuck a set of 26-inch wheels and tires while still planting body on the ground. At a meeting with the folks from Nitto Tire, Chris earned himself a spot in the Nitto booth at SEMA as well as a first-run set of NT420S 26-inch tires designed for light trucks and SUVs. After a few calls to the boys at KMC Wheels, Chris was also able to hook up a deal to get a set of 26-inch Slide wheels. Only weeks before the show, the wheels and tires were bolted on the front, and the rearend was narrowed to allow them to fit between the bedsides. Chaotic eventually completed the work, the truck was loaded on a rig, and Chris, his wife Lina, and friend/driver William Bernard "Rocky" Fox IV made the 23-hour drive to Las Vegas.
The truck was a major success at SEMA, garnering huge crowds of onlookers. Once the show was over and the second photo shoot of the truck finished, we rode in it only an inch off the pavement. We can tell you that not only was the ride smooth, but it was like we were famous with all the people taking photos of us.
The project turned out amazing, and Chris was able to prove his talents to his sponsors. Since he was able to make their investments in this truck profitable, the build only set him back $5,000. By putting together a major project like this and being able to deliver it on time, it's no wonder that Chris got away so cheap.
Finishing this truck in time wouldn't have been possible without the backing of Chaotic's
THE BEGINNING This is a photo of Chris's truck taken in June of '07. Chris put on a set of
Chris Caldwell / Conroe, Texas
'07 Chevrolet Silverado Extended Cab WT
GM 4.8L V-8 / modified factory intake with K&N air filter / custom exhaust with high-flow mufflers / two Optima RedTop batteries mounted behind bumper / factory three-speed automatic transmission / rearend narrowed 6-1/2 inches
BY: Chris Caldwell and Texas Auto Gear, Houston (rearend)
FRONT & REAR: 26x10 KMC Slide
FRONT & REAR: 305/30R26 Nitto NT420S
FRONT: Custom IFS with custom control arms made from 1-1/2-inch-od round tubing / '99-'06 Chevy Silverado factory spindles / Mustang II rack-and-pinion steering / Slam Specialties RE7 airbags
REAR: Custom two-link with track bar / Slam Specialties RE7 airbags / '85 Chevy truck shocks
ACCESSORIES: Two Air-Zenith compressors / 1/2-inch GC 450 valves / 7-gal air tank / aluminum hard lines / custom aluminum fuel cell
CHASSIS: Custom body-drop-less frame built from 2x3x1/4-inch steel tubing
BY: Chris Caldwell and Eric Rankins, Conroe, Texas
Factory tailgate filled in on top and completed with a custom push-button release / shaved doors, OnStar antenna, cab seams, third brake light, fuel door, and inner bed / wheeltubs in bed and engine compartment / Carriage Works billet grilles / spray-on bedliner
BY: Chaotic Rods & Customs, Tomball, Texas
PPG custom-mixed blue and Vivid Blue / PPG custom-mixed orange and green for two-tone break / PPG clear
BY: Chaotic Rods & Customs
Factory vinyl seats with black vinyl inserts / smoothed and painted front pillar plastics, upper door panels, and upper dashpanels / custom fiberglass speaker pods for door panels / custom center console to hold subwoofers, computer, and air switches / black leather inserts in door panels and center console
BY: Chaotic Rods & Customs / Clemente, Houston, Texas (upholstery)
CompuRide touchscreen mobile computer to power audio system / four Rockford Fosgate 6-1/2-inch power component sets with tweeters in front / two Rockford Fosgate 5 1/2-inch power components with tweeters for rear / Rockford Fosgate Power 600-watt four-channel amp for components / Rockford Fosgate 12-inch P3 subs / Rockford Fosgate 1,500-watt Power amp for subs
BY: Dunn-Tay Sick Designs, Houston, Texas
Dante of Dunn-Tay Sick Designs, Todd of CompuRide Technologies, Eric Rankins, Mike Jones, Chance Jones, Rey and Jesus Valencia, William Bernard "Rocky" Fox IV, Brent Lafour, Bill Carlton, Roy and Donna of Brault Auto Paint & Supply, Tim of Nitto Tire, Rhett of KMC Wheels, Zack of Rockford Fosgate, David and Dennis of Texas Auto Gear, Joel of Texas House of Dubz, Joey Field, Paul of Air-Zenith, Optima Batteries, Mom and Dad, Cody Caldwell, and the loving support of his wife and daughter