When a total solar eclipse begins, it is almost unnoticeable. The moon starts its passage across the face of the sun and the western edge of the sun becomes overshadowed. Within a matter of hours, the moon's complete shadow (the umbra) briefly turns daytime into an eerie darkness. During these few precious minutes, the wispy halo of the sun -- the corona -- comes into view as the dark disk of a moon totally obscures the bright sun.
A similar phenomenon can be seen daily in rearview mirrors all over Rohnert Park, California, the place where owners of www.craveoffroad.com drive their signature vehicle, an '02, 3/4-ton Chevrolet Extra Cab Heavy Duty truck. New kids on the block in terms of vehicle customizers, owner Ray Jones and his business partner Greg Deniz felt that by building a vehicle capable of overshadowing everything else on the road, their mark would be made and noticed, much like the sun's corona during a total solar eclipse. In fact, following their astrological counterpart's lead of uniqueness, Ray custom-ordered his truck in GM Solar Yellow from Santa Rosa Chevrolet in Santa Rosa, California.
Elevating the truck to its new stance is Whiplash Performance Center's newly released extreme 10-inch suspension lift. Believe us, new meaning is given to the word extreme when it references this phenomenal lift kit installed by Whiplash Performance in Fresno, California. By retaining the factory geometry, offering a full lifetime warranty on the product and providing a ride quality that rivals some six-figure priced sedans, the truck couldn't have been built any better, even if the good folks at GM had their say.
Prior to the suspension components being installed, Clovis Powder Coating of Clovis, California, powdercoated the steering assembly and brackets, the rear lift blocks, the shock brackets, and the torsion bars in Solar Yellow to match the rest of the body work. The remaining suspension components were chromed by Western Chrome of Fresno.
As if the truck wasn't already high enough to compete with the sun, Ray and Greg convinced the Whiplash Performance team to fabricate a custom 4-inch body lift so the set of heavy, loud, and large 19.5x44x16.50 Interco Super Swamper Bogger TSL tires wrapped around the 16.5x12-inch Weld Racing Scorpio V wheels -- courtesy of Lee Schwab Tire of Rohnert Park, California -- could find refuge inside the fenders. The eight custom-valve, stainless steel, 3-inch King Racing shocks and dual leaf spring-mounted kicker shocks manage to damp the ride considerably, especially when the tire feedback kicks in at around 80 mph through the rough stuff.
The remaining factory trim items, such as the door handles, front and rear bumper trim, and side mirrors, were color-matched by Ray and Greg in the factory Solar Yellow paint. Completing the exterior of this four-wheeled phenomenon is a Stull Industries billet grille insert, color-matched Bow Tie grille insert and custom tinted windows. Entering and exiting the vehicle was made possible thanks to a pair of newly released Kodiak stainless steel retractable steps that appear when the doors are opened and vanish when they are closed.
Between the additional weight of the wheel and tire combination, the increase in elevation, and being new on the market, performance became an issue that Ray couldn't ignore. Knowing that sheer power and brute force were only some of the requirements for successful mud bogging, Ray called upon Ed's Sleds of Rohnert Park to provide the additional horses needed for this type of play. The crew of Ed's Sleds wasted no time in installing the Nitrous 150 Fogger system that is automatically engaged when the rig is under full-throttle.
Loosely translated, when Ray or Greg lay the hammer down, the plenum-mounted solenoids open up and deliver a fine mist of the laughing gas. The 10-pound heated nitrous bottle is housed under the rear passenger seats. The system is responsible for bringing another 150 ponies into the already formidable stable. The GM Corporate front and rear 3.73 gear sets were retained for drivability and performance reasons. A1A Performance Muffler of Rohnert Park created the voice that would match the truck's commanding appearance.
The 3-inch system uses a custom mandrel-bent crossover pipe that connects to a 3-inch Flowmaster one-chamber racing muffler. The spent gasses are then routed via 4-inch custom-built and designed stainless steel exhaust tips that terminate at the rear of the rig. To complete the power upgrade, a K&N air intake system was installed.
Once the initial shock of seeing the truck is over, those lucky enough to go and sit inside will suddenly be transported to another time and place thanks to the CPS Car Audio of Rohnert Park, Rockford-Fosgate/Pioneer video system. Replacing the factory head unit is a Pioneer 6400 in-dash 6-1/2-inch flip screen monitor; attached is a Pioneer SDVP7 in-dash DVD player and stealth-mounted Pioneer VCR. The front passengers can watch their DVD of choice from a Pioneer Visor AVDW-6000 wide-screen LCD monitor. Rear passengers are kept quiet thanks to the pair of 6-1/2-inch SAVV headrest monitors. Custom-fabricated Rockford-Fosgate digital display volt/output/amperage meters were installed for additional insurance. The factory AC/Delco General Motors component speakers were retained in all factory locations.
After speaking with Ray and Greg, the truck still has a long road ahead of it. Plans call for bucket seats for the rear, five-point harnesses, an interior rollcage, and any other cool things the dynamic duo can think of. Right now, though, all Ray and Greg can do is just grin and reap the benefits of creating a phenomenon that some motorists and enthusiasts will never forget. While it's true that only 70 total solar eclipses can be seen each century, maybe, if they're lucky, the average person will witness an eclipse once in their lives.