Reaper

A rolling memo­rial ’89 Isuzu

Truckin - - TABLE OF CONTENTS - BY PHIL GOR­DON PHO­TOG­RA­PHY: PHIL GOR­DON

Michael Gartrell’s story and build stem from a very dark place in his life. Ev­ery­thing was look­ing bright and pos­i­tive for Michael, as he was in the process of build­ing a cus­tom mini-truck and had a great job and mar­riage. His wife, Katie, had got­ten preg­nant, and they were ex­pect­ing their sec­ond child. To­ward the end of the preg­nancy, there were com­pli­ca­tions. When their daugh­ter Alona was still­born, “It hit us both hard,” Michael tells Truckin. “It seems like ev­ery­thing went down­hill from there.”

The only thing that sur­vived the tragedy was the mini-truck build, as the mar­riage couldn’t with­stand the heart­break. The mini-truck, an ’89 Isuzu pickup, be­came some­thing much more than a build for Michael, as he ded­i­cated the en­tire project to his late daugh­ter Alona. Al­though his heart and mind were in dif­fer­ent lo­ca­tions, the Isuzu was the only thing that was able to get him through the pain. As a child, Michael had been in­volved in clas­sic trucks and knew his way around build­ing as well as truck per­for­mance, so that wasn’t go­ing to be dif­fi­cult. The stock 2.3L four-cylin­der was re­moved and re­placed with an ’84 Nis­san 300ZX six-cylin­der for sta­bil­ity and more power.

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