While the cab was on the body cart, James Vance installed the two inner front fenderwells that were cut to fit around the factory brake booster and master cylinder. The factory heater holes were also shaved, and a Transtar sprayable coating was used on the firewall and inner wheeltubs to protect everything from flying debris. During this time, we had a 1963 Impala wagon come in to have some good parts removed from it before it went to the crusher. We proceeded to cut the dash out of it to use in the Mazda. Brandon Smith and Tradd Burn sectioned the dash 3 inches through the glovebox area and then welded and smoothed the dash in the truck. Ron came in and said, 'Hell, if we have to repaint it let's also suicide the doors.' So, Brandon and Tradd got back to work to suicide both doors. We had a set of Grant pillar fillers on hand, so we trimmed and welded them on the truck for good measure. The bed had had a lot of previous work done to it, but we cut out all the old work and were able to start with basically a shell. Brandon got out the slip roller and started rolling rear wheeltubs that extend from the rear of the bed forward and around the wheel. With the help of James Vance and myself, the front of the bed was then capped off and two angled pieces that angle inward and follow the contour of the tubs were welded in. A rear hinged lid was also fabbed up to create a trunk space that would house the air ride, battery, and fuel cell.
The overall body of the truck was in decent condition when it showed up to the shop. The handles, tailgate, taillights, and gas door had already been shaved, and a rollpan was added. The body line was also flattened out to change the overall look of the exterior. The truck still needed something in the back end, so Brandon and I frenched some '39 Ford LED taillights in the rear. Once everything was ready, the bed and cab were sent to Roger Turner at Affordable Collision where they spent about 6 months getting prepped for paint, during which time Brandon painted the frame, transmission, and rearend True Blue Pearl, and the upper and lower control arms, four-link bars, and cantilever pieces were powdercoated a metallic silver. The truck was then jammed and put back together-including the '98-newer Ranger headlights with the new grille and 4Runner bumper and valance-to take to Havoc in 2008.
After the Havoc show, the truck was put back in the paint shop where it awaited its turn for the final paint. Roger Turner sprayed the base of Orion Silver with microflake and True Blue Pearl, and then Ray Jarrel of Louisville, Kentucky, airbrushed the chrome trim then hand-turned inside the graphic. During this time, the truck was bouncing around between Gary and Rob's tint and upholstery shop in Louisville and Smith Chassis & Metalworks for the finishing touches. Derrick Williams and Brandon designed and built the console for the truck that houses the window switches as well as rocker switches for the air ride and had the upholstery shop wrap it in gray leather and blue suede. Mazda 626 bucket seats, the headliner, door panels, and trim panels were also wrapped in gray leather and blue suede while an OEM-style gray carpet was laid down. The rear suspension was taken off one final time for a cleaning and for some touch-up thanks to Josh Akin and Josh Slucher. Once everything was buttoned up, the truck was carefully reassembled.
And that's how a bodydrop can turn into a full three-year buildup. Everyone at Smith Chassis & Metalworks would like to thank Ron Penwell for giving us creative freedom on the truck."
Now that you have the inside scoop directly from the builders, check out the Lowdown for any extra tidbits you might need for your next build.