There’s no telling where one’s passion will take them. From hot rods to muscle cars, all the way through to modern performance machines, we’ve seen our fair share of direction changes in the industry as you get older, your tastes and styles refine, family forces more practical vehicle choices, etc. But one thing remains certain – the custom automotive passion that burns deep in some people still remains, no matter the genre of vehicle or life’s situations encountered.
Photos: Frank “BST” Newton | Words: Lindsey Fisher
For Doug Johnson of Apple Valley, California, his passion has always been in the truck scene. And while he has run the gamut from fender-dragging minitrucks to sky-high full-size rigs, as far as builds are concerned, it’s been within the Slam’d scene that his heart truly remains.
Doug has been a hardcore minitrucker since around 1998 when he bought his first project truck, but it was long before that when he developed the car bug. As it turns out, Doug’s father owned a few hot rods back in the day and ended up winning a T-bucket on a slot machine in Arizona when Johnson was just 7 years old. After the win, the family proceeded to take the Model T to a number of shows, even traveling cross-country for one. It was the winning of the “T” and all the car shows that followed that Johnson credits with truly getting his passion for the automotive industry rolling at such an early age.
Though Doug’s dad never much liked the whole minitruck scene, thinking that it was just a bunch of “punk kids,” Doug was drawn to the minitruck lifestyle and his first real project of his own was an S-10 pickup, which he eventually bagged and bodied, suicided the doors on, and equipped with a full fiberglass interior. The truck was set for a full-custom build but ended up getting lost in the perpetual broken promises of shop after shop before Doug finally retrieved it, parking it in his garage where it still sits today.
Once the mini was put on the back burner, Doug turned to the Lift’d truck scene for his next project – a 2005 Nissan Titan with a Bulletproof Suspension lift kit, 22-inch KMC Rockstar wheels and 40-inch tires. That truck made it to SEMA three times under Doug’s ownership and ended up being the piece of the puzzle that made the dream of owning this custom 1999 GMC Sierra a reality.
As a member of the Severed Ties family, Doug attended the 20th Anniversary get-together in Missisippi in 2012, where he saw and fell in love with the GMC, which was owned by fellow club member Kevin Schiele at the time. Though Johnson didn’t find out until on his way home that the truck was actually up for sale, he quickly started calculating budgets and went into negotiations with Kevin to acquire the truck of his dreams. Unfortunately, before the deal could be made, Doug’s father passed away, throwing a wrench into the plan and completely changing Doug’s life in an instant. Kevin and Doug lost touch until the truck turned up on eBay a year or so later with the winning bidder backing out of the deal. Doug contacted Kevin and explained the situation and Kevin was more than happy to help out a fellow club member and hold the truck for Doug who finally was able to nab his dream truck to add to the stable.
Doug has had the truck, which he dubbed “Total Eclipse” ever since, fixing things here and there and showing the truck all over the US, enjoying his dream in memory of his Dad who was never happier than when showing his rides with his son in tow.
Built primarily by Kevin Shiele at Kindig It Designs, the truck features a complete Ekstensive Big Wheel frontend kit, 4-link rear suspension, underslung rear back half chassis and Slam Specialties ‘bags all the way around, giving the fullsize its epic ground-hugging stance. Other distinguished features include the 26×10-inch DUB Wheels with Pirelli shoes, a custom smoothed front bumper, custom front valance with hand-formed scoop, top-end shortened bed with a custom floor and forward tilt, and a fully custom blacked-out interior to match the deep PPG Black paint on the exterior of the truck.
Certainly a sight to be scene, this frame-dragging full-size might not be the standard mini that Doug started out with, but it’s definitely worth the wait. Total Eclipse stands out from the crowds, easily earning it a spot in our special edition “Black Issue” as one of our top feature rides. Now if only we could get Doug to bring his S-10 to life, he might just have a winning combo on his hands – only time will tell.
Owner: Doug Johnson “MSG” (Medium Sized Guy)
Vehicle: 1999 GMC Sierra
Hometown: Apple Valley, California
Club: Severed Ties
26×10-inch DUB wheels wrapped in 295/35 Pirelli rubber
Wilwood Big Brake Kit front and rear
Front: Complete Ekstensive front, control arms, and Slam Specialties ‘bags
Rear: 4-link on a custom underslung chassis, Slam Specialties bags
Custom underslung rear back half built by previous owner
Performed By: Kevin Schiele
Shaved: doors, antenna, rear bumper
Front bumper smoothed with ustom valance with a hand-built scoop
Grant Kustoms roll pan
Molded in 55-inch AVS LED light
Bed shortened 4 inches on the top rails, slanted forward at the rear
Bed floor raised with the corners smoothed
Custom wood bed floor with inlayed stainless strips
Painted PPG Black
Pinstriping by Steve Vandemon
Performed by: Manuel Bellazetin
Seats covered in black leather and suede Katzkin covers
Wrapped door panels with billet window switches
Black Mercedes weave carpet
Smoothed dash painted Satin Black
16-inch Low Life steering wheel by Colorado Customs
Severed Ties billet mirror
Floating center console built by Colorado Audio
Air Ride Technologies (Ridetech) air controller
Pioneer head unit
Kicker subs, amps and speakers
Stock 5.7L V8 engine
Painted and smoothed intake and detailed parts
Chrome heat shields on headers/exhaust
Special Thanks from the Owner:
“I’d like to thank my Dad for instilling in me the love for cars early on, My mom, and my girlfriend Lori for sticking by me. Also a big thanks to Bobby from Sadistic Iron Werks, Tim from Slam Specialties, Bill at Colorado Customs, Tim from Audiotistics, Richie Meyer, Erik at Kinetik, Frank Newton, Slam’d Mag, Kevin and everyone that helped with the original build.”