Home Featured Trucks SUBCULTURE


by Tim Neely

I would be willing to guess that every single person reading this article will immediately be transported back in nostalgia-glossed time to a memory of a moment that was instrumental in firing the passion for the truck they now have or are building. In this hobby, one of my absolute favorite things is listening to people talk about the truck that got them into the hobby. Sometimes, if the person is a proper story teller, it’s damn near like time travel as they build the scene, describe the circumstances, and talk about that truck that started it all. Take a few moments and reflect on that truck. For me, it’s a brown ‘76 C10 that would roll around our town. It was beautiful. As a young kid, I used to look forward to seeing it while walking home from school. A few years later, my friend’s dad would get a truck of the same generation. Memories of trips to the lake, loading the bed, and riding windows-down in the spring have long laced my memories.  

The Suburban you see here started its life as that truck for owner Brandon Ramirez. “My dad bought it from the original owner back in 1996. They lived in our neighborhood and we used to see the Suburban driving around all the time.” This body style is unforgettable and I’m sure every time Brandon saw it he was thinking, “One day, I could build that into the perfect cruiser”. 

The truck had a long life in the Ramirez family, with Brandon’s mom using it for her cleaning business for years until an employee jack-knifed a trailer with it, badly damaging one of the rear quarters and sidelining the truck for a decade. Once the decision had been made to bring it back to life, it was time to realize his vision of what could be.

Brandon had recently worked with Tre 5 Customs to build his 1948 Chevy 3100 and he knew he tapped them to work their magic on this Suburban.  “I wanted this truck built so I could bring along the kids or some friends.” In no time, Jeremy Rice of Tre 5 was at the storage yard looking at the ‘Burban. Within a week, a plan was hatched and work had started. Unfortunately, all that work began just as something else in the world got kicked off… COVID-19. All too common these days, a ton of build stories that I hear (including my own current build), are sprinkled with what I have come to refer to as the “Covid Caveat”. Brandon explains, “The truck was originally slotted to be at SEMA in 2020. Since the ‘big show’ was cancelled that year, we decided to display the truck for the first time at Lone Star Throwdown in 2021.” And guess what? This thing kicked the Covid Caveat’s ass and won the Best Debut award. Knowing Brandon and Tre 5 – and their history of bitchin builds – these accolades came as no real surprise, and truly indicate the level of talent involved.

Since they aren’t as common as a standard short bed pickup, GSI Machine and Fabrication was called on and provided one of the very first chassis built custom for a ‘Burban. GSI anti roll bars are mated with a parallel 4-link with Watts link setup and Slam Specialties and Ridetech keep the air ride under contol. Tre 5 handled all of the plumbing and wiring, keeping it as clean as a build of this standard deserves. The chassis is halted by big ol’ Baer brakes and rolls on US Mag Montana forged wheels measuring 22×8.5 up front and 24×10 out back. 

Power is provided by a Don Hardy-built 373 cubic inch LS3 wearing Ultimate Headers and a full custom exhaust by Tre 5. A 6L80E transmission sends power to the rear wheels and is commanded by a Lokar Sport Shifter with tap shift feature. 

Brandon’s truck absolutely sparkles in the sun thanks to an Ikandy Paintworks custom-mixed hue based on a GM paint color called Driftwood Metallic. Take a few moments and really let the paintwork’s shimmer wash over you. Hints of gold, browns, and steel grays all play together as the sun cascades down the Suburban’s creases and light lines. Absolutely gorgeous. As you would expect with a build of this quality, the interior is stunning, as well. Every inch was masterfully hand crafted by Elevated Design. They built all the door panels, quarter panels, center console, kick panels, headliner, and stereo system, including the sub enclosure and all the trim in the rear hatch area. Attention to detail is top shelf and includes Snowden bucket seats up front and a heavily customized rear bench. 

Without exception, this is one of the cleanest builds I have ever laid eyes on. Moving down the road, tastefully tucked, and built to the absolute highest standard inside and out, it preserves the memory of what was, but now in its most perfect form. Honoring the memories of the past, but ready to make new memories for years to come. To that end, when I asked Brandon about the most memorable experience with this truck, he quickly replied, “Taking my wife and kids on the first cruise”. That, my friends, is what this hobby is all about. First rides, amazing builds and family time. As they all floated down the road on that first ride, I can vividly envision the smiles on his kiddos faces – content as can be – as they rolled along with Dad, making incredible memories. 


  • Chevrolet LS3 376ci built by Don Hardy
  • Holley Sniper intake manifold
  • All American Billet front accessory drive
  • Ultimate Headers with 1-7/8” primaries
  • Custom stainless steel 3” exhaust system by Tre 5 Customs
  • Borla mufflers and resonators
  • Entropy aluminum radiator
  • 6L80E transmission with 2,600 RPM stall torque converter
  • Lokar sport shifter with tap shift
  • Custom 2-piece driveshaft 
  • GSI Machine and Fabrication chassis
  • Chassis powdercoated at Pac Coast Powder
  • Custom hard lines plumbed by Tre 5 Customs
  • CPP front spindles
  • Rack & pinion steering
  • Flaming River steering column
  • Currie Enterprises 9” rear end with Sportsman Case center section and 3.70: ring & pinion
  • Parallel 4-link rear suspension with Watts link
  • GSI anti roll bars, front & rear
  • Slam Specialties air bags, front & rear
  • Ridetech shocks
  • Baer 6P Pro+ brakes with 14” rotors and 6-piston calipers, front & rear
  • Baer Remaster master cylinder with hydroboost
  • Baer proportioning valve
  • GSI fuel tank with Aeromotive 340lph in-tank pump
  • US Mags Montana wheels, 22x8.5 with 255/35R22 tires front, 24x10 with 275/30R24 tires rear
  • Paint by Ikandy Paintworks, Peoria, AZ
  • Custom paint color based on GM Driftwood Metallic
  • Shaved fuel filler and antenna, smoothed cowl
  • United Pacific LED projector headlights
  • Custom-built LED taillights with sequential turn signals
  • GSI billet door handles
  • Custom interior by Elevated Design, Phoenix, AZ
  • Hand-built door/quarter/kick panels, headliner, steareo system/enclosure, and all trim in the rear cargo area
  • Snowden bucket seats and heavily customized rear bench seat
  • Shaved dash with flush-mount Pioneer 7” head unit
  • Dakota Digital HDX gauges
  • JL Audio amplifiers
  • Morel 6” speakers in kick panels and rear quarters
  • 2 JL Audio Subwoofers
  • Restomod Climate control and vents
  • Billet Specialties Steering wheel
  • Lokar pedals
  • Leather and suede sourced from Hydes Leather
  • Loop style carpet

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