Most people go out and buy the truck that could become the truck of their dreams, but find that once they start making the monthly payments, they can't afford much else. They then spend a few years nickel-and-diming their way toward what they believe will truly set their truck apart from other customs. The smartest of enthusiasts know that this isn't what gets a show truck into the spotlight quickly. When Shawn Follin wanted to build a show-winning custom, he didn't start with a brand-new truck that would fetch top dollar. Instead, he found a truck that he could buy cheaply from a friend. After realizing that the Mazda Cab Plus his friend was selling could make an incredible show truck, he gladly paid the $1,200 and began making plans to build it. Since Shawn hadn't spent a small fortune on a perfect ride, he had plenty of money available to change the truck right away.

Beginning with the engine Shawn chose, a lot of things on the Mazda were about to change. The original four-cylinder was pulled out, along with the stock transmission. Shawn already had big plans to use a '93 Ford 302ci small-block V-8 under the hood of his truck, and that meant everything from the front to the back of the truck would be changing. AE Technologies in Buckingham, Pennsylvania, was entrusted with freshening up the 302. The AE crew also worked up the new automatic transmission that would be mated to the V-8. To make the Ford engine functional within the Mazda, new crossmembers were needed to allow everything to be bolted up safely. After the crossmembers were fabricated and installed, the original wiring harness was removed and replaced with a purpose-built harness. This allowed the truck to function far better than a normal four-cylinder model could ever hope to.

Since the truck was purchased for $1,200, you can imagine that the body of the truck wasn't in the best show condition one would hope for. While other aspects of the truck were being built and put into motion, Shawn had the body shaved and ironed out before having all the custom bodywork performed. All handles, body lines, and other nuisances that Shawn felt were unnecessary were removed and filled to make the exterior that much cleaner in appearance. By the time the bodywork was complete, Shawn was more than ready for the painting to begin. The truck was painted using House of Kolor's Tangelo Pearl as a basecoat, and Drummond Custom Airbrush stepped in to add the graphics scheme, giving the truck its own personalized look.

Finally, the Mazda was sent to J.P. Designs in Plano, Texas, where the interior was reupholstered and the components were reinstalled. Just about everything inside the cab was wrapped using Malibu Sand-hued tweed. The shop built a custom center console, which was also upholstered. When the job was complete, the Mazda had an extremely clean interior to go with the incredibly detailed exterior. Shawn was now ready to take the truck to shows and do some damage to the egos of others. Since the buildup was completed, he and girlfriend Morgan have been seen at just about every major event, taking home trophies in their class and making no excuses for the time and money that was well spent on an incredibly detailed show ride.

The Lowdown

Wheels/Tires
17x7-inch Center Line Galaxy 2 wheels/205/40R17 Falken radial tires

Suspension
Airbagged using Firestone air springs at each corner / drop lower control arms / four-link rear suspension / two VIAIR 450C compressors / two 3-gallon air tanks / 1/2-inch lines used to plumb air suspension system / homemade C-notch / suspension mods by Steve Poserina and Rick Pike

Engine/Performance
Ford 302ci V-8 engine built by AE Technologies in Buckingham, Pennsylvania / Edelbrock intake manifold / Holley 650 carburetor / BBK headers / 2-1/2-inch inlet and outlet Flowmaster mufflers / MSD 6AL ignition / Ford automotive overdrive transmission / custom engine and transmission crossmembers / Edelbrock air cleaner / shortened and modified driveshaft / aluminum fuel cell mounted in the bed / chrome battery box mounted in the bed

Paint/Graphics
Franny Drummond and Paul Stevens from Drummond Custom Airbrush in Langhorne, Pennsylvania laid the graphics / House of Kolor Tangelo Pearl base color

Body Modifications
Phantom billet grille / H-4 headlight conversion / clear corner lamps / Toyota 4x4 front bumper with combination billet bumper and valance insert / shaved door handles / shaved tailgate handle / shaved fuel door / shaved wiper cowl / shaved body lines / molded roll pan / molded notch cover / euro taillights / bodywork by Rick Pike and Drummond Custom Airbrush

Interior/Stereo
Factory bucket seats / tweed-upholstered seats / tweed-covered flooring / tweed-wrapped door panels / tweed-upholstered dash / body-matched painted dash panels / custom-upholstered center console / Colorado Custom steering wheel / illuminated instrument cluster with stainless-steel plate surround / Sony XPLOD head unit / Pioneer speakers / interior upholstery and custom work performed by J.P. Designs, James Phillips, and Johnny Nguyen in Plano, Texas

Miscellaneous Details
Painted upper control arms / dual custom-painted air tanks mounted in bed