Saturday, August 01, 2009
If you endeavored into the world of custom trucks, where is the first place you'd turn to get fresh new ideas on how to make it unique? Exactly, the World's Leading Truck Publication, and that was the creative thinking behind the team at Suzuki when they contacted us to build them a wild street truck. Starting life as a basic, bone-stock, low-buck '09 Suzuki Equator, Truckin's Project Street Shark wasn't going to turn any heads at a stoplight. Creating a custom sport truck from a fresh-off-the-assembly-line new product is a huge undertaking, as manufacturers don't have new parts readily available and many companies are leery to invest in new tooling for a small niche. Thankfully, we teamed with several leading part suppliers for a custom truck whirlwind that sent this truck straight to the Chicago Auto Show's center stage in only five weeks.
In the last three issues, we've shown you how this Equator came together, but we failed to mention the intense stress that came with trying to accomplish this task in just over a month. Delivered to our headquarters a week before Christmas, we made a promise to Suzuki that we'd have the truck completed and ready to be transported by January 30, the clock was ticking and we didn't know what to expect. Our newest project truck was a base model Suzuki Equator extended cab, equipped with a 152hp, 2.5L four-cylinder--providing a nice bang for the buck. The price tag for our Equator was $19,200 and the truck returned an average of 20.6 mpg, but what wasn't so nice was the absence of parts available for the Suzuki. Designed to haul or tow Suzuki's lineup of motorcycles, quads, and personal watercraft, the Equator is basically a rebadged and refreshed Nissan Frontier. Problem was, there is a large aftermarket void in parts for the four-cylinder Frontier/Equator and only lift kits are available. We opted to make motorcycle/quad access to the bed easier and in doing so, the Equator received improved handling for on-road excitement.
Turning to our friends at the Custom Truck Shop, in San Dimas, California, an AIM lowering kit was bolted on. Using adjustable front struts, the Suzuki quickly took a 2-inch nosedive and out back, the guys at the Custom Truck Shop de-arched the leaf springs to bring down the rear a total of four inches. No drop kit is complete without new rolling attire, and for our in-house project, we went big. Giovanna DBL-G 505 wheels in matte black were bolted onto the Equator and measure a wheelwell-filling 22x9 inches. Keeping pace with the new lowered suspension, Nitto NT-420S tires, sized 265/35R22, ensure the Suzuki maintains traction at all times. Stopping power comes from Stillen cross-drilled performance rotors--a great bolt-on that doesn't break the bank. Our mid-size truck now had the handling to entertain any motorcycle rider or quad fan, but it still had the factory looks that didn't raise any pulses. To remedy this shortcoming, a quick trip to L&G Enterprises, also in San Dimas, was made. Four weeks to go and the days seemed to be getting shorter.
Arriving at L&G Enterprises with a detailed rendering created by Nate Shrum, of North Face Graphix, we knew what was in store for the Suzuki and we also knew that Theresa Contreras had the talent to pull off the look. Before paint was sprayed, the L&G team removed the badges, trim, and shaved the rear tailgate handle. Using the factory black as a basecoat, Theresa used Summit Racing's new line of single-stage acrylic urethane paints to spray the shark fin-styled graphics onto the Equator. Summit's Ultra Pearl Blue and Grey Metallic were used to give the Suzuki an aggressive appearance that perfectly matches the Suzuki GSX-R750 motorcycle we planned to mate with the truck. A slight tint was sprayed onto the headlights and taillights, giving the mid-size truck fullsize aggression. Capping off the great looks is a one-piece Street Scene Equipment Speed Grille in black chrome with a blue painted Suzuki "S". Painted-to-match Koko Kuture rings installed on the 22-inch DBL-G wheels tied the colors together and made the Equator look fast sitting still. With one week to go, we had ourselves a sweet-looking ride, but looks are only skin deep, so we dug a little deeper and took a drive to Audio Innovations.
Joe Provenzano, owner of Audio Innovations, in Glendora, California, is no stranger to building award-winning car audio systems, and when we challenged him to create an insane audio system, he didn't disappoint. Joe and his team quickly tore out the factory gear and replaced each speaker with Polk Audio components. A Sony DVD/navigation head unit was installed and then the rear jump seats removed. Why remove the rear seats? Simple, Audio Innovations had big plans to add big bass to our mid-sized hauler. Using wood and fiberglass, a rear sub enclosure was built to house three 12-inch Polk Audio subs and three Polk Audio amps. Theresa, at L&G Enterprises, then painted it to match and we had ourselves a certifiable concussion machine. An extended cab Equator with not one, not two, but three 12-inch subs meant anyone riding shotgun had to be warned and sign a waiver. At full volume, it sounds more like you're in a woofer, than in a truck--pretty much just the way we like it. Now having only two seats, we delivered our buckets to Classic Soft Trim, and when they returned them to us, we had blue and slate suede inserts with grey leather on the outsides. The look perfectly complements our Project Street Shark and also adds some flair to the dark interior. If you're keeping score, at this point we had two days before our deadline came and went (around this time, the sound of Monster cans being opened could be heard all over the office).
Continuing with the custom tradition, we also installed a MagnaFlow high-flow exhaust system, freeing up some much-needed ponies. Picking up the phone, we actually swindled a motorcycle from Suzuki. That's right, we conned our way into picking up a Suzuki GSX-R 750 street bike and before the suits at Suzuki could reconsider, we quickly drove away. With less than a day before transport, we contacted Stylin' Trucks for a set of aluminum load ramps to help get our Gixxer in and out of the bed. Arriving to Suzuki USA in style, it was official, we had a hot-new project in the transport rig, and did so with three hours to spare. Nice work everyone.
This Equator was quite a challenge to build, but it was also rewarding to see it come together. Debuting at the Chicago Auto Show, Suzuki loved the Truckin' Street Shark so much, they placed it center stage for all to see. Five weeks, numerous Monsters, and a few choice words later, a feeling of accomplishment could finally be had. Truly a team effort, we would have never met our deadline without the talented and creative shops, companies, and people involved. Thanks go out to each of you.
For more feature photos, build-up pics, and exclusive videos of Truckin's Project Street Shark, please visit the new truckinweb.com.