We love custom trucks. Without them, there would be no Sport Truck magazine, no disgustingly powerful trucks, no ultra-low frame-draggers, no shows, and-dare we say?-no bikini contests. Imagine how lame that world would be, where everyone drives a stock truck. Well, luckily, that is not the reality of the world. The term custom is very well known and basically drives our industry.
As soon as you install a billet grille or big shiny wheels on your truck, it falls into the custom category. Custom, by definition, is something made or performed according to personal order. Personal order is the key point of that sentence. We build trucks to fit our personal taste and be outside of the norm. What do you do if custom starts becoming the norm? It is happening. You can go straight to the dealer and buy a factory truck with 20-inch wheels, and if your wallet is really big, you can get 22-inch wheels on a stock SRT-10.
We have an idea. Why not take something the factory put on a vehicle and make it custom for your truck? Turnabout is fair play, right? Shaving the door handles has become a staple modification in our industry, but we want to show you another option.
We contacted John Meyer from Clean Cut Creations in St. Louis, Missouri, and asked him what was going on his shop. The truck gods were smiling on us that day because he said, "It just so happens I am grafting in a set of Chevrolet Malibu door handles into an S-10." We asked if he would snap some pictures along the way, so we could see how a professional does it.
The procedures in this story will work for just about any door handle swap that your deviant mind can think up, but there will be a few little factors to think about before you start. Before you go out and just grab a set of handles, make sure the curvature of the sheetmetal is relatively close for each door, because a curved handle will look like ass on a flat door. Once you have found a handle suitable for the swap, check out the way the opening mechanism works. You want the rods to function in the same manor as your factory handles, either a pull-up or push-down design. The '97-'03 Malibu handle matches both criteria for '94-'04 S-10s, so all you have to really focus on is getting it into the door.
After you have decided on what handles you want in your truck, buy a set of doors from a wrecking yard, or if your donor is too new, contact a dealer. Since John decided on a Malibu handle, he got a set from his local scrap yard and tore them completely apart.
On the right, you can see the styling differences between the two handles. The Malibu handle has a nice ovate shape that will look totally different in the S-10. You can also see that the new handle has a key in it, so make sure to get the keys from the junkyard. If they don't have them, take the handles to a locksmith and have a set made.