Busted Knuck­les

Built Bet­ter From a Bad Rep­u­ta­tion


When some­one takes credit for work they didn’t do or mis­leads peo­ple into per­form­ing acts for free, their rep­u­ta­tion can be ru­ined. When Mary­land res­i­dent Wes Dukes first went on the hunt for a cus­tom truck, he came across a bare frame ’94 Isuzu pickup that had a sor­did past. The orig­i­nal owner claimed he’d done all the work, although he re­ally didn’t and had in­stead used a fam­ily tragedy story to get peo­ple to mod­ify the mini. Wes wanted the truck, and he planned to turn around the Isuzu’s un­for­tu­nate rep­u­ta­tion.

As a “hang-around,” Wes spent years with his good friends from East Coast Minis and cruised around in their mini-trucks with them un­til he de­cided to get his own. A friend of his ac­tu­ally found the Isuzu and vouched for the “bones” of the mini, so Wes de­cided to pur­chase it. The pur­chase came with a donor truck and pieces in boxes, as it was just the chas­sis and driv­e­train he was re­ceiv­ing. Wes had a long road ahead of him, but he was op­ti­mistic and ex­cited for the fu­ture.

The cab was set down on the frame and all the brake lines and fuel lines were re­done. All the air man­age­ment was per­formed us­ing Vi­air com­pres­sors and Air Lift bags to bring the mini to the ground. Most of the parts were used from the donor truck or per­son­ally hunted down by Wes him­self. The bed was body dropped with help from Jeff Woot­ten and Vic­tor Quin­tanilla (with­out the ac­tual truck be­ing there). Once Wes brought the bed home, he re­al­ized it wasn’t lin­ing up, so it had to be re­done and brought down even fur­ther. He shaved the in­side of the bed­sides and the fuel door as well as the hood from the donor truck.

The rear fend­ers were pulled and a set of 4x4 front fend­ers was put in place. The rear fend­ers were pulled out to add more width to the rear, match­ing the new front. Dead End Cus­toms came in to han­dle the tub work. For the in­te­rior, Vic­tor made a cen­ter con­sole to house the air man­age­ment con­troller and built-in cuphold­ers. Wes added the car­pet­ing and the bucket seats from the donor truck. Wes and Jeff de­cided to cut out a sun­roof for a cooler look in the sum­mer. In the course of two months, Wes got the mo­tor run­ning and every­thing in place for the pickup to be mo­bile.

When his friends and fam­ily ask him, “Why didn’t you just buy a new truck in­stead of putting all the money and time into this older pickup?” he usu­ally re­sponds with, “I have bad credit.” Although the story be­hind the name is much dif­fer­ent, Wes now gives “good credit” to ev­ery­one who played a part in the suc­cess of his Isuzu. He is cur­rently in the process of adding a sin­gle-turbo 1JZ-GTE mo­tor, and the color that’s in the works will be a real head-turner. Stay tuned for what Wes has in store, be­cause it will def­i­nitely be worth the wait.

Spe­cial Thanks: First and fore­most my son Dal­ton, Jeff Woot­ten, Vic­tor Quin­tanilla, Matt Dono­van, JR Kessinger, Gary Foskey, Rich Gent­ner from IRB Cus­toms, Get Bored, Dead End Cus­toms, Ja­son Neil at C&C Auto, Cliff Somers, ECM mem­bers for their help, Lucky’s Garage for in­te­rior, Hanes Auto for ex­haust

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