1992 Mazda B2200
Freaks Of Nature
Building up a truck from stock takes a ton of work, but building a truck that has already been featured in a magazine but has seen better days can sometimes take even more.
Ron Penwell from Louisville, Kentucky, came across this 1992 Mazda and knew instantly that he had to have it and that he had to change it up to make it his own. Little did he know at the time that a bodydrop would turn into what you see here. When the work was started, it just kept growing as he added things to the list and found things that needed fixing. The list grew to a new paintjob, wheels, interior, suicide doors, and so on. Wanting to keep the truck as clean as it once was in its previous life, Ron knew he needed to send it to a shop that was fully capable, so it was taken to the crew at Smith Chassis & Metalworks. To give you the inside scoop of the build process, we'll turn it over to Josh Jenkins from Smith Chassis & Metalworks.
"The truck was brought to us in January of 2007. Ron Penwell drove it from California to Louisville, right after Resolutions. The truck had blown a 'bag and needed a lot of repair work. It was in total disarray and needed a full rebuild, so the decision was made to do a stock-floor bodydrop and have the truck put back together and ready to go for Layd Out at the Park 2007. Upon rebuilding the truck we thought that if we were going this far, we might as well get deeper, larger-diameter wheels for the rear. That spun into the three-year project you see before you. Nick Crouch of Surface Art was contacted to have a rendering done, and we drew up a sketch of how we wanted the truck's paint design to look. Four or five days later, he sent back a rendering that fit what we were after perfectly.
To start, the truck was completely disassembled down to the bare frame, and the rear 3/4 of the frame was cut off and scrapped. That's when Brandon Smith and I began building a 3/4 chassis out of 2x3 box tubing. Upon completion of the main framerails the question was: Do we just make a run-of-the-mill truck and hang a triangulated four-link on it and call it a day or add some flavor to it and do a custom cantilever rear suspension? No less than an hour later a design was drawn up by Brandon and we were on the phone with the laser cutter. Upon receiving the parts, Brandon spent some time grinding, welding, and smoothing the cantilever pieces to get them ready for powdercoat. The rearend had old link tabs that were held on with bubble gum, gorilla glue, and a couple of tack welds followed by an inch of body filler. It took every bit of five hours to clean, fill-weld, grind, and smooth the rearend. A beefy Smith Chassis 1.5-inch DOM tube four-link was then installed, with the upper link bars intended to take the brunt of the force of the cantilever. The cantilever system uses a pair of Slam Specialties RE-6 'bags, which, when inflated, the system pushes down on the upper link bars, making for a clean yet custom "Goldberg" device. A call was then made to Richard at Wheel Nation to get a pair of 20x10 Billet Specialties slc75s with a 4.25-inch backspacing for the rear of the truck. While those were on order, Brandon Smith and James Vance went to work on the front suspension and installed a Smith Chassis torsion-style front bracket kit along with Slam Specialties RE-6 'bags. While he was there (which became the theme of this build), Brandon triangulated the lower control arm to get rid of the strut rod.