Like most of us, Gabe Sandoval grew up surrounded by tools and grease. While the other kids were out riding their bikes, he was in the garage pulling the stickers off and painting his. Riding the bike was fun, but riding a bitchin' custom was better. When he got some years under his belt he moved up to trucks. After tweaking an Explorer and a Ranger, he decided to move from the big Blue Oval to the Ram's horns. "I wanted a little truck with a big motor that was low to the core", Gabe said with a smile. Straight to the nearest Dodge dealer he went, and after the typical haggling, Gabe took home this '01 Dodge Dakota Quad Cab with a 4.7L V-8. So what did it take to get in the pages of Sport Truck? Time, talent, and, of course, cash.

The suspension in Low Core is a full airbag set up installed by Ekstensive Metal Works in Houston. The front gets the lows from Firestone 'bags and KYB shocks to allow the wheelwells to meet the 19-inch Colorado Customs Rush wheels skinned in Nitto 35-series rubber. The rear is a little more in depth; the springs were ditched and replaced with a two-link setup supported by another set of Firestone 'bags. To accommodate the new travel, it also step-notched the frame, fabricated new wheeltubs, and built a custom cover for the bed floor. After all cutting was complete, Tuff Liner sprayed in some protection. Extensive plumbed the system with 3/8-inch line into its high-flow valves.

But that's not the end of the modifications out back. You see, Gabe wanted the off set on the 20-inch Colorado's he was going to run on the rear to match the front, so he lopped 4 inches out of the axle tubes to allow the centers to push in to the bands. How's that for detail? The inside of Low Core is in some respects still stock. Gabe liked the dark-gray coverings but knew it had to be spruced up. To kill two birds with one stone, Gabe and his friend John Burgess got to work designing an audio system that would put out some serious thump and add that custom look he needed. The handmade console that stretches from the dash all the way to the rear seat houses the Audiobahn 10-inch subs and amps. All the other speakers were also replaced with Audiobahn drivers; an Alpine head unit provides the input. The last noticeable tweaking to the cabin is the addition of the exterior's red paint to the dash console and doo panels.

Outside, the body mods were kept to a minimum; the only thing that needed to be mudded and blocked was the Sir Michaels roll pan where the tailgate handle used to be. Gabe wanted his paint scheme, not his bodywork, to draw people in, so he hooked up with Pat Maxwell of Maxwell Designs to apply the licks. Pat carefully laid out the flames with such care to prevent random tips going across the door handles or running into each other. Once taped, the white, yellow, and orange hues were faded together and finished off with a lime-green pinstripe. The finishing touches to Low Cores exterior are the speed grill, APC clear corners, and street scene mirrors.

Under the hood, Gabe installed an AIRAID intake and a ton of elbow grease. One can see this is his daily driver, and as we all know, if you drive it, it gets dirty. "Until I can get myself a beater to commute in, the engine compartment will stay stock". Gabe has built himself a cruiser that is low to the core and will turn heads -- not bad for a guy whose humble beginnings started in the garage with a bike.