In another MT first, this month our cover truck was built almost exclusively by fabricator Brian Jendro, so we spent time talking directly to him about this incredible East Coast ride with a West Coast flavor. In order to show off Robbie Kay's Mitsubishi the right way, we not only tracked down Mr. Jendro but also talked to Robbie about what it feels like to finally get his show-ready ride back in his own hands. Read on to get all of the details.
Owner: Robbie Kay
Hometown: High Shoals, North Carolina
Model: '94 Mitsubishi Mighty Max
(With builder Brian Jendro)
MT: So how long have you been working on this Mitsubishi, Brian?
Brian: Right around two years, but the truck made its rounds to other shops for about two years in between. It sat in my garage for another year or so. Robbie Kay, the truck's owner, had a lot of changes he wanted to make along the way. This isn't anywhere near the truck he wanted built originally.
MT: We can remember seeing this truck a few years ago at Spring Splash at the Colorado River. It sure has come a long way since then. What was the most trying part of building the truck?
Brian: Had to be building a truck for someone who didn't know exactly what they wanted and not being able to get firsthand feedback. Going back and redoing things can be really stressful when a customer changes his mind often. I'll give it to Robbie, though; he's one patient guy.
MT: Who came up with the paint design for the Mitsubishi?
Brian: Pete Finlan at Hot Dog Designs in Vista, California, came up with the design in 1998. Robbie only wanted a yellow truck to begin with, but that changed too.
MT: What was the process of building the truck, in chronological order?
Brian: First, I did the suspension work on the truck. Then I did the body drop and bodywork, but that was before I sent the truck to Rhino Linings in Temecula, and Pete Finlan painted it. Next, Nathan Hall worked on the stereo at Al & Ed's in Oceanside [California], and Dick's Upholstery reworked the seats, carpet, and headliner before the suspension parts were sent off to Foss Plating in Santa Fe Springs [California]. Finally, I got the truck back and painted the chassis, bolted all of that chrome back on, had the exhaust work done by Ranch Muffler in Temecula, then I called you guys.
MT: How much of a body drop did you perform to the truck, and is there anything you would have done differently if this truck belonged to you?
Brian: It's body dropped 3-1/2 inches. I tubbed the firewall for the wheels so the truck would lay flat. No, I built it as if it was mine.
MT: Is there anything about body dropping a Mitsubishi that wasn't typical from body dropping, say, a Toyota, Nissan, or Mazda? Is it easier or harder to lay body with a Mitsubishi over another type of mini?
Brian: The steering is a real pain in the ass to deal with because it has a steering box that's mounted close to the cab. I had to make a custom joint that allows the body drop to work. The steering box almost wound up inside the cab.
MT: We've gotta say that the time we've waited to see this thing completed was well worth it, Brian. Since seeing the truck a few years ago at the River, we've wanted it on film for Mini Truckin'. Thanks.
Brian: I was only following orders. Robbie
told me that if anyone wanted to shoot the Mitsubishi, Mini Truckin' would have first dibs on the truck.
MT: Now that the truck is finished, how long will it be before Robbie Kay gets his truck back?
Brian: It's already there! It left two days after you guys shot the truck in the studio.
MT: Now that your four-cylinder, yellow houseguest is gone, what's next for you? Brian: I'm working on building my '60 Cadillac Coupe de Ville, two-door hardtop. It should be done by SEMA.
MT: Would you do another long-distance custom buildup like this again?
Brian: Sure, I'd just want to have a more extensive game plan next time.
MT: Thanks for building one of the most trick Mitsubishis we've ever laid eyes on, Brian.
Brian: I'm glad to have built something you guys liked enough to use for the cover. I hope to build some more cover-quality trucks for you soon.
(With owner Robbie Kay)
MT: When exactly did you drop off your Mitsubishi to Brian Jendro in California? Robbie: It was in December of 1995. The truck needed a big facelift.
MT: It must have been hard to wait all this time for your truck to be finished and come back home to you. How did you manage? Did you build anything else while your ride was in Cali'?
Robbie: I have a '95 Honda Civic that I've been working on by myself.
MT: Your ride sure has come a long way. Now that you have it back, what do you think of the work that Brian Jendro put into it?
Robbie: I'd say it was worth it. It looked a lot better in person than in the pictures I'd seen in the magazine of my own truck. I was definitely surprised. MT: What made you seek out Brian Jendro (Brand-X) to have your custom work performed in the first place?
Robbie: I'm not satisfied with most of the custom shops around here in North Carolina. I also don't know of any that I trust. I wanted to take my truck to the best fab guy I could find. I didn't want anyone to learn on my truck.
MT: What's your favorite part about your truck now that you have it home?
Robbie: I like how low the truck is, number one. Second, I can't believe that that engine compartment is mine.
MT: How aggressive are you going to be showing it with what's left of the show season, and what shows are you planning to attend (mostly so we can be there to see it in person again)?
Robbie: Maybe NOPI, and since you told me about it, maybe the East Coast Nationals.
MT: Cool, we'll be covering that. Is there anything you plan on doing to the truck now that you have it back in your possession?
Robbie: I need to install faster air valves. I'm going with electric valves this time around. I also plan to get it running just a little bit better. It has been in the shop a long time, you know.
MT: Who would you like to thank most for their help in getting the truck done, or for helping you to keep your sanity while the truck was out here on the West Coast?
Robbie: First, I'd like to thank God, my wife Ian for her support, and, of course, Brian Jendro, Nathan Hall, Pete Finlan, and my friend Brian Creed.
MT: Thanks for the opportunity to shoot your ride. It's easily one of the baddest Mitsubishis on the West Coast right now. Good luck at shows.
Robbie: This is a dream come true. I never thought that my truck would be featured, let alone be on the cover of Mini Truckin'!
'Bagged by Brian Jendro using Firestone 'bags, Doetsch Tech shocks, and a chromed, triangulated four-link rear suspension.
Robbie Kay's '94 Mitsubishi Mighty Max rolls on a set of 18x8- 1/2-inch TSW wheels tucked into 215/35R18 Nitto low-profile treads.
The center stage for Robbie's interior includes a pair of FloFit custom seats, which have been reupholstered using gray tweed to match the upholstered dash and door panels. Kay's door panels sport reverse-embossed flames and stripes, which mimic the exterior Hot Dog Designs stripes on the outside of the truck.
Custom-built by Nathan Hall, the subwoofers for the truck's stereo system fire through the back wall of the Mitsubishi from an enclosure found in the bed of the truck.
Shaved everything, including the gas filler door with the filler relocated to the inside of the bed. The front bumper is a smoothed and welded-together unit with a Toyota valance. Additional modifications include a Britax sliding sunroof, and a process by which the bed of the Mitsubishi was widened to match the width of the cab exactly.
Underneath the truck, the plan is an all-show undercarriage that sports chrome shocks, chromed upper control arms, hand-fabbed shock hoops, a painted frame and paint, and chromed brake assemblies.
Custom aluminum intake built and installed by Brian Jendro. All parts of the truck's engine have been painted and chromed for maximum show appeal. The engine bay sports a continuation of the same Pete Finlan Hot Dog Designs custom graphics treatment found all over the truck. Special thanks Temecula Valley Paint, which supplied the various colors of PPG and House of Kolors paints and to EAI for helping out on the buildup by supplying its airbags.