Tandems Are Back!
Continuing with the success of our multi-vehicle-themed issues, we decided that the dedication to go tandem or even "trandem" deserved this month's cover spot.
If you were lucky enough to make it out to SEMA (or even browse the SEMA coverage in the mag and online) then you might have come across what's been dubbed as "Project 6-Pack." What some don't know is that Project 6-Pack is the very same Mini Truckin' cover truck pictured here from the April 2000 issue (over a decade ago).
Both Jonn Far and Steve Francis go way back in the truck scene and remember what it was like before airbags and bodydrops. Reminiscing, "Back then, the single hardest mod that put you over the top was the tandem axle." Both of these truck owners have had a hand in these builds for the last 20 years! So what better way to pay homage to one of the first mods that started it all than to take a couple iconic minis and turn them into modern customs with a classic twist? Jonn and Steve paired all the hardcore modern-build mods with an old-school historic minitruck twist. To give you an idea of how long both these trucks and the owners have been around, check out all of these preview pics of what these trucks looked like throughout the years!
1989 Isuzu LS Spacecab
Steve's Crowd-Pleasing Isuzu
What has eight wheels, three axles, a 350ci Chevy engine, and an 11-foot bed? Give up?
Well, if the giveaway clues weren't so obvious here, you might scratch a hole through your skull trying to imagine such a vehicle even existed, let alone would be placed on our cover. Steve Francis from Montgomery, Texas, is the proud owner of this tri-axle 1989 Isuzu LS SpaceCab, which he purchased over 20 years ago to serve as something to tinker with. Once Steve started tearing into his very first minitruck, he decided to let his creative side take over, and the result will definitely burn itself into the minds of custom-truck fanatics for years to come.
With most first builds, there are usually lots of hasty modifications that more than likely get completely overhauled, which always ends up being an extremely time-consuming, not-so-wallet-friendly affair. In the case of this tri-axle, trend-breaking Isuzu, it has seen a few reincarnations dating back to the early '90s when it was a relatively mild mini that featured a decent drop, 15-inch gold wire wheels, and a camper shell. A few years went by and the 'Zu grew in length, as a second axle was brought in to double its shock value, but it wasn't long before it was time to ditch the camper and add yet another row of wheels and tires. Even though most vehicles don't see this amount of radical refreshment and restyling, Steve made it a point to learn from previous mods and keep quality control at its maximum throughout the years.
Although Steve tackled the build a bit backward by handling the body and paintwork first and then dialing in the engine and taking everything back apart to work on the suspension, he still got the job done. And luckily everything stayed scratch and dent free, but if he could do it over again, he'd do things in reverse order. Regardless of how this eight-wheeled wonder came to be, we are impressed to see such perseverance on display through the Isuzu's latest and greatest morph.
One might ask what could possibly possess a man to pour so much effort into a minitruck. Well, the way Steve tells the story, he was making his way around town one night in his 1966 panel truck back in 1990 and he spotted a group of guys driving around a local cruise spot. All of them were inside low and loud minis, and after stopping them and thoroughly inspecting the detailed miniature haulers, Steve was instantly hooked. Two weeks after that, Steve was out searching for a pint size rig of his very own, and once he found THE one all those years ago he has yet to look back. For more information on Steve's insane build, check out the Lowdown.
Eight 20x8 Raceline billets
Eight 225/30ZR20 Hankook
Suspension Front: 2-inch drop spindles, custom 'bag mounts, Slam Specialties 'bags
Suspension Rear: All three axles have a two-link setup with the first and third axle 'bagged
Control Arms: Custom-built by Rocky Fox
Air Accessories: Eight-gallon air tank, 1/2-inch stainless lines, and SMC valves
Frame Mods: Cut and narrowed under cab, two-link mounts custom-built for back axles, flush-mounted fuel cell, custom motor mounts for stock hood with 350 engine
Brakes: Four-wheel disc brakes
Misc.: Chromed upper and lower control arms, chrome spindles and sway bars, and fully painted frame
Performed By: Rocky Fox
Bodylines, wipers, cowl, firewall, taillights, door handles, tailgate handle, emblems, windshield squirters, antenna, and pinch rail under rocker
Traditional 3 1/2 inches
Bed extended to 11 feet, sliding rag, one-piece windows from an Isuzu Rodeo, flush-mounted LED taillights, sheetmetal bedfloor smoothed and painted to house two 32-inch flat screens
Harley Davidson mirrors, Amigo front fenders, 1997 Rodeo grille, bumper, lower valance, hood, and headlights, and two custom-built tonneau covers
Owner, Eric, and Mike Jones of Unique Kustoms
Brand & Colors: PPG Tangerine Pearl and Sandalwood Metallic
Misc.: Airbrush work performed by Pat Maxwell of Maxwell Designs
Performed By: Mike Jones of Unique Kustoms
Stock seats cut down and wrapped in leather/suede
Custom dash wrapped in leather
Custom door panels and console, Billet Specialties steering wheel, B&M shifter
Head Unit: Alpine IVA-W205
Mids & Highs: JBL P660C Component sets
Subwoofers: Four 12-inch JBL GTO 1204D
Amplifiers: One JBL GTO 1004 and a GTO 14001
Performed By: Owner
Engine: 350ci Chevy
Hooker block huggers with Flowmaster mufflers by Ronnie at AutoPro
Chrome alternator, water pump, valve covers, oil pan, motor mounts, timing cover, color-matched block, billet spark plug wire covers, and a blower type pulley setup
Mike Jones of Unique Kustoms
Special Thanks From Owner
"Jackie for not killing me for all the money that I've spent. Joey Alvarez, Pat Maxwell, Mike Jones, Raceline Wheels, JBL, Kinetik, KDM Tires, and Chris Taylor. My Erratic Club members, Mike Alexander, Pugz, Henry DeKuyper, my mother for bringing me into this world, and anybody that made this day possible. Let Jesus take the wheel!"