Rarely Seen in the Wild

ASK PRETTY MUCH ANYONE IN THE LOWER 48 TO NAME A TYPE OF BEAR AND YOU WILL GENERALLY GET THE SAME ANSWERS—BROWN BEARS, BLACK BEARS AND TEDDY BEARS. Then ask them to name a rare bear they wish they could see in person one day, and panda bears will probably take the top spot every time. Rare, unique and different from the rest are traits shared by the most desirable objects in existence. Pandas are lucky enough to naturally have all those boxes checked at birth, but if you want to build a truck with the same mystical qualities, you’re gonna have to step it up to a whole new level.

The builds that are hitting today’s custom truck scene are coming at a rapid pace and are more unique and detailed than ever before. We’re not talking about just lifted trucks either. Bagged trucks, sport trucks and even factory OEM trucks are adding features and details we never could have imagined a few years back. Of course, that’s driving the price up on new products and labor, but if you want to stand out from your sleuth (a pack of bears), you better come prepared.

Jason Burke from Titusville, Florida, had that thought in mind when he planned out his  The goal was to have a lifted truck that was completely different looking than the rest at the show, with details generally seen on trucks of a totally different flavor. In Jason‘s opinion, lowered trucks should have static suspensions and big power like most sports trucks of our day, although the thought of an adjustable suspension does sound pretty cool as long as it doesn’t determine whether your truck can get off the ground or not. So, the idea of a fully adjustable air-ride truck designed to tower over even the tallest builds in the industry was conceived and immediately put into action.

First on the list of items to tackle was the fully custom suspension. Jason decided to handle this part himself to control the design and rack up as few shop hours as possible. Starting with the front end, Jason swapped out the factory independent front suspension for a Dana 60 straight axle from a 2007 Ford F-250. Yes, you heard that right: This Chevy has factory Ford parts to achieve the perfect setup. The rear is a Sterling 10.75-inch axle from the same Ford donor truck, and both axle gears have been swapped out for a 4:56 gear ratio, giving it a much better jump off the line. To keep the steering response accurate, a Reid Racing high-steer knuckle was added along with dual Fox steering stabilizers a custom mounted sway bar to maintain the motion.

To make this truck sit as high as Jason hoped, a custom four-link front and rear suspension had to be engineered and welded to the frame rails. Dual Pro shocks with a custom reverse mounting setup gives Panda a full 13-inches of shock travel, just in case he hits a really nasty bump. Additionally, custom built airbag mounts in the suspension allow the truck to sit pretty on 8 inches of lift with the bags fully deflated. That or he can use his on board Viair compressors to fill the Slam Specialties airbags and unveil the 18-inch lifted monster you see here. As if the suspension didn’t make it tall enough, Jason also went big with his rubber. Some 28×16 Fuel Off -road Wheels wrapped in 40/15.50/28 Fury tires do their best to fill the four wheel wells.

HE’S EXTREMELY PROUD OF THIS BUILD, ESPECIALLY SINCE HE DID THE SUSPENSION HIMSELF. IF YOU SEE IT OUT OF THE SHOW OR WANT TO KNOW MORE, FEEL FREE TO REACH OUT AND SAY WHAT’S UP.

Jason decided to leave the factory 5.3L GM motor in place and back it with a powerful FTI 4L60E transmission and torque converter. To get the power to the wheels, custom built 6-inch thick aluminum driveshafts were produced with GM universal joints at the transmission and Ford joints at the axles. An axle dump exhaust from Borla gives this GM the perfect tone, but it’s hard to hear over the fully built audio system by Barry Electronics. Inside the cab of this truck holds four Kicker L7 subwoofers and four pairs of 6½-inch midrange speakers. Precision power amplifiers are also included to give the speakers the signal they need to be heard from extremely far away.

Since the body was in really good shape when he started, a quick wrap job from Bluetail graphics was completed using a combination of satin pearl white and flat black. The original fender flares and bumpers were wrapped as well before adding nearly 58 rock lights around exterior of the truck. The goal was to show o all the suspension and Goldtastic powdercoat from Prismatic Powders. Finishing up the body mods included a swap to a 2005 GMC 2500 grille to give it a bit of personality.

JASON DECIDED TO LEAVE THE FACTORY 5.3L GM MOTOR IN PLACE AND BACK IT WITH A POWERFUL FTI 4L60E TRANSMISSION AND TORQUE CONVERTER.

Jason just recently completed this truck, so it hasn’t been to many events around the country, but that’s soon to change. He plans to hit as many as he can while constantly upgrading and maintaining his ride. He’s extremely proud of this build, especially since he did the suspension himself. If you see it out of the show or want to know more, feel free to reach out and say what’s up.

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