Gets Down and Dirty
In the world of street trucks, a lot of names come and go over the years. New people are coming into our sport every day, working hard to build their first show quality ride and make a name for themselves. Meanwhile, veterans of our sport often fade into the sunset due to jobs or families or changing interests, leaving that “almost famous” ride mothballed in the garage as a storage device. Then there are the constants, the ones whose name you see over and over, each truck improving upon the last. And just when they get close to fading from memory they reappear with some amazing new ride that tells you exactly what they’ve been up to lately.
Craig Elder is a constant. If you recognize the name, it’s because he has more vehicles on “Street Trucks’” covers than probably any other single shop or person. The thing is, Craig is known for building some of the most insane lifted trucks in existence, as opposed to bagged or body-dropped rides. Not that he hasn’t built laid out trucks before, but the show-winning monster trucks have definitely become his forté in the last few years.
That’s why we were more than stoked to hear about Craig’s latest creation. Seems he felt the need to be a little closer to the ground for a change and embarked on a new project. He found a Silverado that had already been started by the former owner, and then he took over, bringing it from concept to completion (and cover) in record time. Craig has mastered the art of finding the right part for the vehicle and the right man for the job, and this time around was no exception. There was obviously a lot of legwork involved, but we think it was worth it.
“Now there is no need to slow down when entering driveways or going over speed bumps, and the truck is regularly driven about 2 inches off the ground…”
The very first stop was STD Customs in San Marcos, California, for altitude adjustment. A 3-inch body drop was performed, along with a standard 4-link airbag suspension using Master Image Customs half-inch manual air valves and three Firestone compressors. Temecula Rods & Customs then installed chrome-moly tubing under the pinch moldings, bumper and roll pan, which hangs down quarter-inch below the body to prevent it from dragging the ground, no matter how low the truck is driven. Now there is no need to slow down when entering driveways or going over speed bumps, and the truck is regularly driven about 2 inches off the ground—feats we witnessed first-hand on the way to the photo shoot!
Not satisfied with the original tire and wheel combo, Craig headed over to Bio Kustomz in Hemet to see Mr. Max Fish, who welded up a monster max notch to clear a 24-inch wheel and tire combo and installed a Total Cost Involved parallel 4-link. Oasis Wheels in Anaheim built a set of 22-inch front and 24-inch rear wheels that were custom-machined to tuck deep into the wells and still turn up front and fit under the rear without narrowing the rear axle. Nitto 255/30/22 tires were fit to the front, while the fatter 295/35/24s bring up the rear. In search of an exhaust system that would add power as well as clearance, Ron Gibson of Gibson Performance hand-built a stainless exhaust system for body-dropped trucks. Shawn Gibson TIG welded the headers and exhaust system, and along with a K&N air intake, netted Craig an additional 47-hp!
When it came time for body mods, a few more stops were in order. First, a Sir Michael’s roll pan with tail lights and Street Scene custom cowl were picked up. Then it was off to Crazy Customs for the new Cadillac Escalade front clip, shaved gas door, tail lights, door handles, third brake light, tailgate handle and roll pan. Our own Mr. McCormick came across the Sky Blue Pearl paint from PPG, and no sooner was he showing it to Craig than Temecula Valley Paint was mixing it and New Image Auto Body & Paint was spraying it. A California Custom tonneau was sprayed to match on top, and sprayed with Rhino Lining underneath to match the custom-coated bed floor.
Another batch of contributors added their talents to create the insane interior of the Silverado. New Image painted the dash to match the exterior of the vehicle, and soon after Craig opted to take his upholstery to the next level, so Gonzalo’s Auto Body & Paint in Murrieta smoothed and painted all the interior panels including the door panels, overhead console and switch covers. Frank’s Hot Rod Upholstery then installed the black suede headliner and matching carpet as well as the Katzkin black and silver leather seats. Foss Plating chromed the speaker grilles (and a bunch of miscellaneous undercarriage and motor compartment pieces), then Empire Motorsports came through with a plethora of accessories, which you might remember being installed in our November ’05 issue.
Craig Elder | Fallbrook, CA | 1999 Chevy Silverado