At some point that winter, Mikey and I both decided that the 20s just weren't as big as they once seemed and bought up a set of 22s. As luck would have it, they wouldn't fit under our new floor? That's the fun with these here mini-trucks, you see. We raised the floor just enough to clear the axle and spent the winter hammering and welding the sheetmetal floor around the rearend, wheels, and driveshaft. With the welds still warm to the touch, we loaded our metal sculpture onto a trailer and set our sights south to Live Oak, Florida, and the annual BloodDrag show in February 2005. Two questions seemed to be the topic of the show from the passersby. "How are ya gonna keep those wheels under the hood?" they asked about our ride yet to have front sheetmetal; and "Where you gonna run the exhaust?" was the next big question. We had an answer to the first one three months later at that year's Greenville show, while the exhaust would have to wait awhile. An '02 Tacoma front end was enlisted to fix the problem of cramming 22s into the front of the S-Dime Blazer. Extra clearance was made just where it needed to be when the tops of the Taco fenders were mated to the factory S-10 bottoms. A fullsize GMC Sierra bumper was chopped down and reshaped to match the fender arches, then, along with the hood, tacked onto the truck, with the truck already on the trailer ready for the show. Just barely in time, as usual.

That summer saw a couple of time-consuming modifications to the truck finished out. Using five tubes of an overpriced plastic epoxy, the grille was remade to stretch down into the bumper by the time of Scrapin' the Coast in June, and a core support made of 1-1/4-inch tubing, complete with suicide hood hinges, was fabricated just before the second annual All-Star Event in Millington. That winter, the bright idea to completely re-skin the Blazer without the bodyline came from somewhere and the cold months were spent butt-welding sheetmetal panels that stretch from the window seals to the rocker. Folks, I won't lie to you here. Don't try this at home. In fact, don't try it anywhere. It's just way too much work. This catches us up to the year of 2006. Although we knew about the shoot well in advance, people just seem to get busy, I guess. Mikey has a real job, and I have trucks in the shop to 'bag that actually bring in money. Most of the finished work that you now see on the Little Shop Special was done the last month, just before HAVOC and our big date with Mike Alexander's camera. We completed the metalwork for the first half, and then the agonizing task of bodywork for the next. The two weeks before HAVOC are pretty much a blur, but I'll do my best job to tell you what I remember.

I called up this guy Frank "The Mudman" at home in New Jersey. I said, "Frank, man, I need you to come to Tennessee to do some bodywork." He said, "That should probably be fine." Three days later, I was picking him up at the airport in between returning Farva's Blazerado and dropping by the Trucks TV set to return a walkie-talkie. Back in the boonies, we commenced immediately on what became two straight weeks of nothing but 20-hour workdays with little to no sleep and lots of coffee and energy drinks. There was a lot of sanding to do. It's a little painful to stroll back into the shop feeling like you never left it, but Frank was a trooper and work went on. In the middle of the "mudwork," my metal guy, Chris, fabbed up the exhaust pipes and pulled the chassis out from under the body to begin cleaning up two years' worth of oxidation and shop grime, while Frank and I just kept on sanding. Thanks to the lackeys that pitched in and did some serious rubbing, a day later the chassis was back together in the metal shop looking like a million bucks. Meanwhile, Frank and I - yup, still sanding. And finally, with a pile of dust on the floor large enough to make castles and get a tan on, we primed the truck with Sherwin-Williams paints around midnight the Thursday before the show. For the first time in two weeks, we got almost seven hours of sleep. Finally, we woke up, came back to the shop a couple hours later and put Humpty Dumpty back together again, complete with glass, seals, and a freshly detailed chassis. Four hundred miles later, we were in Louisville, Kentucky, at exactly 4:30 a.m. Saturday. We proceeded to the front desk to check in and the clerk laughed out loud when I asked for a wake-up call at 5:30 a.m. (a very short nap). Up once more, and we pushed the Blazer into the show. After we got the right sunlight, the camera finally came out, the shots were made, and I went to sleep. This time, for more than 16 hours!

Was it worth it? Hell yeah! Just quit asking us when it's going to be done. Soon, OK? Mikey may need a little time to recover. Not only did we chop down the money tree; we burnt the roots and filled in the hole. So, here it is laid out before you in an unfinished state. And maybe someday not too far away - Lord, help us - this little daydream will be complete. When it's done, look for it here in the pages of MT first!

Special Thanks
Props go to Eric and Chris at the Little Shop of Horrors (and their ladies for putting up with all this), and all the shop lackeys who lent a hand. My girlfriend Elizabeth, Becky, Seth, Stains, David Collier, and Jon Leach. Frank "Red Cheetah" for the help on bodywork. Brandon at Detata, Eric at BAD, and Wacey for the Sherwin-Williams supplies. Don Schrieber, everyone at SportTruck.com, and all my family and friends. Rick's BBQ, WD-40, and Listerhill Credit Union. And, of course, my Relaxed Atmosphere family!