A Wild Ride Repping Acrophobia With Pride
Anytime you ask a custom truck owner why they decided to choose this particular make and model for their build, an interesting story always follows. That’s precisely what makes this industry so great, isn’t it? Sometimes it’s a truck previously owned by their father or close family member, and sometimes it’s the first ride they owned when they were 16. It’s no doubt that emotional heartfelt truck stories are a dime a dozen, but what if you just like the way they look when they’re laid out on big polished wheels? There were no sappy love stories and no meaningful memories needed for Dustin Ford of Knoxville Tennessee to choose this 1987 Chevy C-30 dually truck. All he needed was a natural attraction to the body lines that came right from the factory, especially when it’s aired out and sitting flat on it’s frame.
Having a full-time job as a paint and detail specialist, as well as an owner of Ace’s Wild Rides in TN, one of Dustin’s hardest tasks with this truck was maintaining both the financial and timeframe limits he originally predicted. Time is a valuable commodity to any full-time worker as most of you know, but Dustin also happens to be a full-time husband and father as well which also takes his attention from time to time. Luckily he has an extremely supportive group of family and friends that kept him motivated along the entire process. After a little over 4-years time and approximately $20,000 invested, he can finally stand back with extreme pride looking at what he has managed to accomplish. Great story right? Well enough about Dustin, let’s talk more about his truck!
Knowing that this was going to be a complete custom truck from front to back, Dustin first had the entire vehicle taken apart all the way down to a bare frame and cab. Before reassembly, the original 1987 frame rails had to be modified both front and rear in order to sit on the ground. A new Porterbuilt front tubular crossmember along with a custom-built step-notch in the rear were the first modifications made. New upper and lower tubular control arms from Porterbuilt were the next to go on along with airlift airbags and Belltech Nitro drop shocks. A Little Larry’s Four Play manual controller and 3/8-inch line manages the air in the suspension and a Porterbuilt rack and pinion setup takes care of the steering control. Frame modifications and suspension components were all made by Chad Skeleton of Skeletons Auto Parts and Garage in Northport, Alabama. Dustin is utilizing the factory style disc and drums brakes to stop the truck along with an 8-inch mini brake booster that has been converted to vacuum. The final thing left to create a rolling chassis were some wheels and tires. All six rollers are Ionbilt 22.5-inch semi-truck wheels that have been milled down to a 22-inch rim and 265-35-22 Nexen Roadian HP tire are wrapped around each one.
This is where things get a little technical. Dustin knew the factory Chevy engine would technically work for his project, but he had a concept for something many guys talk about, but most never do. After a fresh rebuild and a few new parts, a 1990 Chrysler/Dodge Cummins diesel engine and a 727A 3-speed automatic transmission were ever so forcefully installed onto the frame. They instantly knew it wasn’t going to be fun clearing the firewall and transmission tunnel, but like most problems they ran into, a cut-off wheel, a welder, and a little bit a metal shaping always seemed to do the trick. Eventually, the goal is to add an overdrive transmission into the mix, but that’s a project for another day.
In order to transfer the power from the drivetrain to the rear end, a custom-built two-piece driveshaft had to be created, and Dustin knew just who to call. Knoxville driveline was able to cut and marry the front half of a Dodge driveshaft to the back half of a Chevy’s. Finally, a three-quarter-ton single wheel rear axle was utilized in order to tuck all four 22-inch wheels. To keep the transmission temperature in check with all these upgrades, Dustin decided to throw in a 12×18-inch Summit Racing transmission cooler. A few final engine modifications including a custom-built downpipe from Aces Wild Rides and a 4-inch straight pipe exhaust system were built and installed along with a 5 inch 90° tip. As you can see, all the wiring and hoses in the engine bay were hidden as possible for a nice clean look.
As the time came to start reassembling the body, a few new parts and pieces had to be ordered to replace the unusable factory originals. A new front grille and both front and rear bumpers were swapped out with brand new factory replacements from LMC truck. The original body already had extremely clean paint so Dustin only had to coat the Grant Customs roll pan and a new LMC cowl hood. Last on the list was a minor modification to the lower rear quarter panel for the exhaust tip and it was officially time for the interior guys to do their magic.
Hudson Rod and Custom out of Knoxville Tennessee took the factory front and rear bench seats and recovered them in a combination of red vinyl and convertible top material. The headliner has custom strips incorporated into it to mimic the roof lines on the top of the cab and the factory dash pad was fiberglassed and smoothed before being painted. AutoMeter mechanical gauges, including air pressure, were installed in a spot that was clear to the driver to see. The lower dash was modified for a custom center console which holds the double din radio along with some cup holders for convenience. The factory door panels were modified as well and covered in vinyl to match the rest of the interior. We truly can’t say enough about how clean this cab is, but you really need to see for yourself.
Dustin is known to bring his truck out to the NSRA nationals, the Southeastern Mini-Truck Nationals and the Pigeon Forge Rod Run. Be sure to stop by and check this thing out in person if you happen to be at one of these events. After a long successful build like this one, most guys are extremely tired and have spent way too much money. But when you have a team like Dustin has it tends to make some obstacles less of a challenge than others. From Dustin, a massive special thank you goes out to his wife Ashley for putting up with all the late nights in the garage. He also has the support of his daughter Bristol who is his number one car show girl and detailer. Dustin‘s dad has also been helping lend him a hand as well as many other friends and family along the way. A final shout out goes to his club Acrophobia and the entire Tennessee chapter just for being as awesome as they are.