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Searching for Something Different

When walking around a show field or looking up custom vehicles online, you see a lot of the same types of customized vehicles. It’s just how the custom scene works. Companies design tons of parts for several models, making it easier for consumers to build those said vehicles. Therefore, parts availability and ease of modification tend to make certain custom vehicles more dominant than others. 

A Current Performance standalone harness controls the engine, and a Dyno tune by Tuners Inc. makes it run smoothLY.

Standing out in a sea of modified vehicles takes something special—and that’s what Michael Hill from Edgewater, Florida, has with his 1991 Ford Explorer you see here. Michael bought this truck back in 1998 when he was in school as something to get him around town. It had 33-inch tires and he was known to have buried it in mud on a regular basis. The Explorer managed to go through several changes over the 24 years he has owned it to suit his needs and likes of the time, but nothing to the caliber it is today.

Dedicated Build

Back in 2015, Michael decided to do a full build in memory of his mom and dad who passed away when he was younger, so it had to be done right. The first stop was to drop it off with Jimmy Graham and Tim Haywood at Jimmy’s Rod N Customs to handle the custom one-off chassis to lay the Explorer on the ground.

The Explorer managed to go through several changes over the 24 years he has owned it to suit his needs and likes of the time, but nothing to the caliber it is today.   

A custom rear bench seat, custom door panels, and some audio tie it all together.

…he sent it to Daniel Smith at Smithworkx to get a super classy graphic added to the already slick blue paint. This made the Explorer a complete show vehicle in Michaels eyes, and we couldn’t resist getting it in front of our camera to show our readers. 

The 5.7-liter LS1 engine in this mini-truck is from a ’98 Camaro Z/28 donor car.

Once the chassis was done, Jimmy went to work on the body to shave a few things, mold in a roll pan, and add some Cadillac taillights. Knowing the truck was going to look good parked, Michael decided to make it drive as good as it looked. He went out and picked up a 1998 Camaro Z28 donor car and pulled the 5.7-liter LS1 out of it and make it fit in the Explorer. Not knowing the true condition of the engine’s internals, he had Jimmy and Tim blow it apart, upgrade a few things, and ensure it would put out enough power to send the Explorer down the road quickly.

Perfect Paint

With the suspension and drive train where Michael wanted them, the truck was sent over to Shane Shewfelt and Victor Salas to handle the final body work and to lay down the Sikkens Nitrous Blue paint. They even carried the blue into the engine bay so it flowed flawlessly.

With this much work into this now awesome looking SUV, there was no way the tired, stock interior would work. After some back and forth with getting the interior dialed in, it was finally sent to Alvin Lawrence at Auto Fanatik where the 2002 Ford Mustang dash was grafted in and a set of Ford Sport Trac front bucket seats were modified to fit. A custom rear bench seat, custom door panels, and some audio tie it all together. The bulk of the panels were wrapped in charcoal distressed leather with VW GTI blue plaid added for a nice contrast.

Cherry on Top 

After showing it like this for a year or so, Michael felt like it was still missing something. So, he sent it to Daniel Smith at Smithworkx to get a super classy graphic added to the already slick blue paint. This made the Explorer a complete show vehicle in Michaels eyes, and we couldn’t resist getting it in front of our camera to show our readers.

Special Thanks

“Special thanks to James Graham and Tim Haywood at Jimmy’s Rod Nn Customs for all the metal work, Daniel Smith at Smithworkx for painting the graphics, Shane Shewfelt and Victor Salas for doing the body work and paint, Brian Prather for painting the drivetrain and exhaust, Alvin Lawrence at Auto-Fanatik for completing the interior, and, of course, my beautiful wife Michelle Hill for always supporting my decisions and helping push me to complete this build. Built in memory of my mom and dad.”

 

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