An Ekstensive Look at This H2 on 26s
KEN CAMINITI WAS A BASEBALL LEGEND. In his 15 major league seasons (10 of which were with the Houston Astros) he was a three-time All Star third baseman and the ’96 NL MVP while playing for the Padres. He was often described as a warrior on the field, having been known to dive several feet into the foul area onto his stomach to retrieve a ball, and throwing an out at first with the runner still steps away from the base.
Caminiti was always into trucks, cars, bikes- -anything with wheels. But after retiring from baseball, he dove into the custom truck scene, due in large part to the friendship and working relationship he struck up with Bill Carlton and the crew at Ekstensive Metalworks in Houston. This editor was even lucky enough to meet up with Ken and the crew in Phoenix as they were making the trip to Laughlin Bike Week one year. Ken commissioned Ekstensive to build a few different trucks, and the one he was most excited about was this H2.
It was a rough day when we saw the headlines of Ken’s untimely death. Not just because the world lost a superstar athlete, but because friends of ours lost a friend. Eventually, Bill discussed the future of the vehicles with Ken’s family and made some arrangements. Two of them were sold to another good friend of Ekstensive, Matt Spence, and you’ll be reading about both of them in future issues. But as for the H2, Bill wanted to carry out Ken’s plan and bought the H2 himself. It’s not quite a daily driver, and not exactly a shop truck. It’s more of a calling card for Ekstensive; it showcases the talent of Bill and his crew, and also shows what kind guys they are.
So, what exactly does it take to make an H2 lay flat on the plastic rocker trim on 26-inch wheels? Well, for starters, the stock frame was immediately scrapped. A pair of one-off mandrel-bent frame rails were built first and then fit with custom motor mounnnts, cross members, tubular body mounts and a custom trailer hitch. A new fuel cell, fuel line and brake lines were made from scratch. New upper and lower control arms were built for the front suspension and one of Ekstensive’s trademark 2-link rear suspensions was fabricated for the rear. Firestone airbags are at all four corners. The system is plumbed with all copper hardline, GC valves, Norgren fittings, Thomas compressors and hand-built air tanks. The switches and gauges that monitor the system are all custom-mounted. The front inner fenders and anything in close proximity were scratched and a new tubular inner structure was built. The entire rear floor section was rebuilt with new materials and the wheel tubs are pretty much even with the bottom of the glass. But when the 26 x 10-inch Giovanna wheels and 305/35ZR26 Kuhmo tires were mounted and the truck was laid down farther than any H2 had ever been before, well, it was all instantly worth it.
Neither Ken nor Bill wanted to stray from the look of the H2 once it was laying on the ground, so from here on out it was simple upgrades to make the truck more fun to drive and look at. The 6.0L was fit with a Procharger supercharger and intercooler and due to the shrunken engine bay all of the mounts and intake tubes were custom built. A CGS air intake was used, and the computer was reprogrammed by Street & Performance. New exhaust was routed and fit with a MagnaFlow muffler. The rear end was narrowed and new axles from Moser were installed.
The exterior was enhanced with the entire billet accent line from B-Cool. The front and rear bumpers were chromed and a bumper guard for the intercooler was built. A custom sunroof was cut into the roof. Much of the interior pieces were painted to match the exterior. A chromed billet steering wheel from Billet Accessories Direct was installed. Directed Electronics provided the six video monitors that either flip down or sit in the headrests, all of which are run by the Clarion DVD head unit. Two giant Orionn amps provide power to the four sets of 6 1/2-inch Orion separates and the two monster 15-inch Orion H2 subs that are reverse-mounted in the giant box in the hatch area.
Ken wanted to build the best H2 out there. One that could be duplicated but never outdone. Although it wasn’t completed, he did get to enjoy it for a while. Bill enjoys it, too. Believe it or not, it serves as the tow vehicle for many of the other projects. And unlike most shop projects, this truck is going to stay around for a while. ST