It is tough to see the empty space that once held decades of memories in the form of a classic pickup truck that hauled tools, lumber, family and the passion for custom cars and trucks. The thought of having the representation of those memories stripped away by a thief is heartbreaking. Carmen Vasquez of Carlsbad, New Mexico thought the worst had happened when he noticed that his 1951 Chevrolet AD Pickup that was sitting on his property outback was gone. He hadn’t driven it since the ’80s but the memories held on and he hoped one day to fix it up and get it back on the road.
Thankfully for Carmen, the former was not the case, and the later would come true sooner, and more grandiose than he ever could have imagined. The truck was not stolen, it was taken by his son Steven and friends, with the goal of having the truck completely restored and customized before being presented to him at his birthday party to his complete surprise. They didn’t anticipate the tenacity of Carmen and his love for that truck. He went to file a police report, luckily Steven had a few friends in on the surprise. He staked out and asked everyone he knew, trying to track down his stolen truck. And when he had just about given up all hope. The green machine, fresh from a ground up build was returned.
One of Steven’s friends, Shane Rodriguez, better known as Primo; had recently had a square body truck finished by Tre5 Customs in Phoenix, Arizona and referred Steven to them in the hopes Jeremy Rice and his team as well as Frank Rechlin at Ikandy Paintworks could meet not only his expectations and plans for the truck but the tight 3 month deadline. Jeremy said they would give it their best and in the midst of a hectic SEMA crunch, started on the project.
Jeremy Rice, owner of Tre5 Customs got his start in the custom car world at a young age but kept it as a hobby until necessity and opportunity collided and he starting building custom trucks and cars and suspension components from his home shop until moving into a full shop last year. Just down the way is Frank Rechlin of Ikandy Paintworks who has a long heritage of wild and custom paint jobs from years in the mini-truckin’ scene as Platinum Konceptz. After venturing off into the collision repair world; Frank aka Da Wop is back with a fury having sprayed out several SEMA vehicles along side normal jobs and made it look easy. Needless to say, the surprise build was in the right hands.
Initially plans were to paint the truck black and silver but Jeremy and Frank among others agreed that sticking with a green hue would be what his dad would have wanted himself. The build began at Tre5 Customs and Ikandy Paintworks around the way and was finished in just over 3 months. But it did not end there for Frank and Jeremy. The journey to deliver the surprise build would be just as rewarding.
If left up to Jeremy, the 11 hour drive to Carlsbad, New Mexico; a town known for its caverns, hotel ghosts and more recently a few top notch trucks; would be a non-stop trip. But with Frank in toe, adventures would ensue. The thing is, its not just about the destination but the road trip getting there. And speaking of Things, the duo finally got to see the glory that is The Thing! Stop by, you can’t miss it, theres a couple signs along the route out, just a couple.
The truck was first shown to Steven and family and friends of Carmen, hell bent on keep the secret. However, the morning of the surprise reveal, Carmen was seen driving by the truck.
See if everything went according to plan on the surprise build.