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Mixed, In Memory Of Alex Rubinshteyn

Very few of us have had the pleasure of becoming caretakers of a loved one’s most prized possession after their passing. Some individuals are passed down belongings that they may or may not have a direct connection with, but in the case of Jorge Casillas, he has ended up with a good friend’s heavily customized Dodge Ram after he lost his battle with cancer. Jorge met his pal Alex Rubinshteyn, AKA Sasha, AKA The Russian way back when he was fresh out of high school and apprenticing at Iaccino Fabrication & Customs—a staple shop in the SoCal custom truck scene. Even though losing Alex was one of the toughest things Jorge has gone through, hanging on to Alex’s truck and continuing to make progress with it in his memory has been very therapeutic and rewarding. 

Now, Jorge isn’t exactly new to custom trucks, so when he found himself holding the keys to Alex’s Dodge, he knew exactly what to do with it. As an apprentice at IF Customs in his early 20’s, Jorge was given a crash course in custom fabrication from owner Cary Iaccino. He was given a ton of invaluable information and hands-on experience, which eventually led to Jorge being assigned to actual paid customer work at the shop when he was good enough. “IF Customs was such a great escape for me back then”, Jorge says. “I was in a tough spot back when I was younger, but I was given a great opportunity to learn new skills at the shop that have really shaped my life for the better. I was also lucky to meet some great guys who wouldn’t ever think twice to teach me something new. And you’d better believe they also made sure I kept at it until I was able to pull off whatever we were working on the right way.

 

It was during this period when Jorge first met his pal Alex. “His truck was one of the first ones I got to work on by myself”, Jorge remembers. “His Ram was already ‘bagged, and I remember vividly that the truck was still rolling on stock wheels when Alex took it out to Greenville, Mississippi for ShowFest. This was back in early the early 2000’s, 2005 sounds about right. It’s an older build, and the stuff that Alex was doing to it back then was awesome. I know he would appreciate the vision I had in store for the reworking of his truck.” 

After Alex passed in 2018, Jorge was already in the process of making a transition to move to Georgia where he landed a gig in the film production industry. Since the truck was still located in California, he decided to have some of his talented friends on the west coast get involved in giving Alex’s truck a timely refresh before bringing the Dodge home to Georgia. “The IF Customs chassis work is holding up nicely for its age”, Jorge says. “All I really had to do was to update the air ride system with some Accuair components to make it more user friendly. Even though the truck is ‘old school’, it was built right the first time, and it still rides just as good as it did back when we first completed the work on it 15 years ago or so”, he adds. 

 

The Ram’s previous paintjob featured a two-tone silver and grey colors with a bright green graphic running in between them but it was time to give Alex’s truck a whole new spin. Jorge reached out to Gerad Popke of Valley Kustoms in Chattsworth, CA to clean the slate by applying a stark white PPG finish onto the truck’s surface. Gerad is also an old friend of Alex’s, and he took much pride in lending a hand in the project. ‘There were a lot of great shops out there in the San Fernando Valley back in the day”, Jorge says. “There are still a lot of talented guys out there still working in the custom scene, thankfully. It was really awesome to be working with some familiar names again on this special project.” 

The next shop in the valley that Jorge visited was The Upholstery Zone for a fresh interior overhaul. This place is known for high quality stitch work from custom motorcycle seats to vehicle interiors of all types. “Ramon at Upholstery Zone reshaped the factory seats and came up with a combination of light grey leather, ultra leather and suede material to wrap the bucket seats in. The attention to detail is spot on, and the entire cab space all matches and flows perfectly.” 

 

The center console, door panels and rear cab wall all feature one-off touches that really make the difference in placing the Ram in an elevated category of custom. Of course, a full audio system has been wired up, and since our photo shoot with it, Jorge was able to swap out the OEM steering wheel for a custom piece from Intro to match the 24-inch Intro Arctic wheels the truck is rolling on. “This is one of the few things that was on my to-do list but just couldn’t get done before the shoot.” 

With the truck completed, it’s now safe at home with Jorge in Georgia. It only took a year to transform the truck for the better, and it really has been given a new lease on life. Jorge has taken it out to a couple of the big shows in his region, Battle in ‘Bama, and well as the MiniTruckin’ Nationals. “Surprisingly, the truck was recognized a couple of times out here”, Jorge says. “The California plates probably helped in identifying it, which is cool.” The plan always includes taking the truck out more often, but that all depends on available free time and a place to show it off at, but Jorge will see to it that the Ram is well taken care of either way. 

Jorge’s early experience at IF Customs helped pave the way for his current occupation in the field of automotive fabrication (yep, he has worked on projects you’ve probably have seen on TV), and has forged some solid friendships that he still holds dear to him to this day. “The custom truck scene did truly turn me away from the dark path I has heading in my youth”, Jorge admits. “Alex was one of the people I looked up to in the scene, and I feel honored to carry on where he left off with the Ram. His memory kept me motivated to get the truck completed and back with me in my new home.” 

Truck Specs
Owner
Jorge Casillas
Fayetteville, GA
2003 Dodge Ram 1500
Severed Ties 

Engine / Drivetrain 

  • 2003 Dodge 5.7L V-8 
  • K&N cold air intake 
  • Flowmaster 3-inch exhaust system 
  • Rear axle narrowed 5 inches by Hooper’s Rear End 

Chassis/Suspension 

  • Shop: Iaccino Fabrication Customs, Sylmar, CA 
  • Full-custom frame by Iaccino Fabrication featuring a stock floor body drop and rear two-link
  • Contitech 2600 ‘bags and shocks 
  • Accuair air management components 
  • Viair 480 compressor 
  • Alkon Fittings 
  • Custom fuel tank by Iaccino Fabrication 

Wheels, Tires & Brakes 

  • 24-inch Intro Arctic wheels 
  • 295/35R24 Lexani LX-Nine tires 
  • Big brake kit from Little Shop MFG featuring Wilwood components 

Body/Paint 

  • Shop: Gerad Poepke at Valley Kustoms, Chatsworth, CA 
  • White PPG paint finish 
  • Shaved door handles, tailgate handle, stake pockets 
  • T-Rex grille 
  • Factory bumpers 

Interior 

  • Shop: The Upholstery Zone, Simi Valley, CA 
  • Factory seats shaved and reshaped 
  • Leather, suede and ultra leather upholstery 
  • OEM gauges and steering wheel 
  • Pioneer head unit and speakers, Memphis Audio subs 

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