One Guy’s Search for a Quick Fix
ONE OF THE TOUGHEST ASPECTS OF A BUILD OF ANY MAGNITUDE IS TIME MANAGEMENT. You can plan all you want and stockpile all of the parts you can get your hands on, but up until you actually have the time to execute those plans and start installing product (or can at least pay someone else to do it), it’s nearly impossible to estimate just how long a custom project vehicle can take until it’s finished. Sammy Cantu can attest to this. He’s taken on a few extensive projects throughout the years. Some, like this ’99 Chevy Silverado, have reached fruition, while others … Let’s just say time just wasn’t on their side.
If you’re a fan of any type of customized truck, then you have to respect a guy like Sammy. He has a true passion for these things, and isn’t afraid to take on a challenge no matter how the odds are stacked against him. One of his earlier builds, a fully loaded, ’bagged ’92 Sierra, proved to be a good stepping-stone to more involved projects. He finished the build, and he planned to fund his next truck with the money he got from selling it. Sounds like a good plan, right? In theory, yes, but Sammy (like a lot of us) gets a little impatient and wants to see results as quickly as possible. It hasn’t really developed into a problem, but things tend to get interesting in Sammy’s world.
“I bought a two-door ’96 Chevy Tahoe with the money from my old Sierra,” Sammy tells us. “I dropped it off to get body-dropped, and I added a set of 24-inch Intro wheels all around to really set it off. It took years just to get that far, and after I was able to get the suspension finished up, I started looking for a painter who could finish the project in less than six months. Nobody took the job, so I decided to sell.”
This kind of turnaround is probably more common than some might think in the world of custom vehicles. After a few years, interests change and the direction of a build can take a completely different path than initially intended.
Sometimes it’s better not to force a situation just because there’s a certain amount of time and/or money tied up in a project. Moving on can result in success down the line.
Sammy’s very next project didn’t work out so great either, but it did prompt him to take positive action towards getting what he wanted. “After I sold the Tahoe, I bought a ’72 2WD K5 Blazer. I dropped it off at a body shop and started ordering wheels and parts for it, but as soon as I saw that the shop was working too slowly, I decided to start something else that I knew for sure I could finish faster.”
That’s when the ’99 Silverado featured caught his attention. “I purchased it in October 2015, and it was completely stock. My goal was to work on it throughout fall and winter, and have it ready to debut at Lone Star Throwdown [LST] in February 2016.” That timeline seemed doable, but it did require Sammy to sacrifice a whole lot of his free time to get everything done in such a short time.
“I work out of town, which meant that the only real time I had to work on the truck myself was during weekends and holidays,” Sammy admits. And he wasn’t talking about working through Columbus Day or some of the other lightweight observed days off either. He traded in valuable family time during Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day in order to get the truck wrapped up. Luckily for Sammy, his wife understood how important his project was to him. She also must’ve noticed how hard he was working. If he was
slacking off or out playing around, things could’ve gotten ugly for ol’ Sammy, but he was out in the garage giving his latest project everything he had in order to deliver on his deadline.
The Silverado has been a different type of build for Sammy for many reasons.
For one, it was geared largely toward performance with regard to horsepower gains and the suspension system. Second, the inspiration behind the build has a lot to do with how he grew up. “Me and my brothers are really close, and my older brother loves drag racing, so I have spent a lot of time around the race track over the years.” That would explain the LS engine swap, the healthy grouping of go-fast accessories and killer suspension setup designed to better harness the increased power and torque output. “The rear ladder bar design and QA1 coil-overs, along with the slightly modified front drop kit helped get the truck low just like I like them, but also make it handle a lot better.”
Even though Sammy was gunning to build a truck capable of holding its own on any autocross track, he’s still a Texas boy, after all. That fact is apparent with his selection of 24/26 Intro billet wheels.
“To make enough clearance for the front wheels to fit, I had to extend the wiring harness and move the fuse box and computer from inside the engine bay to inside the cab.” The rear 26x10s have that huge Texas trademark reverse lip that looks so good tucked underneath a truck bed. This pickup features similar design cues from some of Sammy’s past projects, but it takes them further to better reflect the performance vehicles he grew up admiring.
In just a few months, Sammy completed the truck he set his short-term sights on building. Instead of waiting around for lagging auto shops to get things done, he did a quick inventory of the close friends, family and talented individuals around him and managed to get the right team onboard to help him meet his goal of rolling into LST with a truck he was proud to have at the show. Although Sammy hasn’t updated us on the status of any other projects that may be in progress, we’re sure we haven’t seen the last of him.
RIGHT. HINTS OF RED SHINE THROUGH THE CUSTOM AIRBRUSHED GRAPHICS AND WHEEL DETAILS TO ADD JUST ENOUGH FLASH TO GET THE POINT ACROSS WITHOUT STEPPING OVER THE LINE.
ABOVE. FOR BEING A STANDARD CAB, THIS SILVERADO HAS A LOT OF GREAT STUFF PACKED INTO ITS CONFINED INTERIOR SPACE. THE REAR WALL SHOWCASES A WELLORCHESTRATED SOUND ARSENAL THAT DELIVERS FULL-BODIED LAYERS OF AUDIO.
JUST LIKE EVERY OTHER SPOT ON THIS TRUCK, THE BED IS COOL AND CLEAN AS CAN BE.
THIS SILVERADO’S ENGINE BAY IS CLEAN WITH ITS COLOR- MATCHED FENDERS AND SHROUD PIECES. THE LS ENGINE DOESN’T HURT EITHER.
THE PAIRING OF THE HD BUMPER AND GRILLE LOOKS RIGHT AT HOME ON THIS SLEEK AND ELEGANT 1500.