Take a fascination for Left Coast surf culture and all things tiki. Now add in a genuine appreciation for Nomads and woodies. Toss them into a blender and hit the puree button, then pour the odd amalgamation into an unsuspecting 1965 Chevy Suburban. The result? A wagon that makes most folks scratch their heads and wonder if they got bonked on the noggin by a falling coconut.
It all began innocently enough, as these things so often seem to, when I set out to create a cool wagon to help promote my online business, HouseOSpeed.com. Locating a '65 Chevy Suburban, I lit the proverbial tiki torch. I'll never forget my wife's reaction upon seeing it pull into our driveway. Giving the brown and gold hulk a once-around, she unenthusiastically christened my new project "The Turd," a nickname that seemed to follow me around like a bad smell. Determined to prove her wrong, I asked concept artist Brian Stupski to render my thoughts for the HouseOSpeed.com tiki truck. Seeing my ideas brought to life on paper was all the inspiration I needed. I quickly yanked the truck's entire drivetrain, as well as its wiring, glass, and interior.
Stripped of all its trimmings, the truck was ushered to True Grit on a flatbed, where it was liberated of all paint and body fillers by way of plastic media blasting. Reduced to bare metal, its next stop was Twomey's Auto Body, where it was straightened before Don Twomey shot the '56 Nomad-inspired Apple Green and Pearl White paint scheme, squirting the truck's fresh 383 stroker engine, Wheel Vintiques Solids, and '63 Cadillac steering wheel as well.
Dave's Automotive Perfection was the 'Burb's next port of call, where Ronnie Whitehead installed the stout 383 stroker engine, beefed-up 700-R4, and new 3:73 posi unit; rewired the entire truck; and installed front disc brakes with 2-inch dropped spindles, power steering, A/C, and a hydro-electric brake assist system. Then it was off to DB Rods and Miniz for an altitude adjustment. John Henson installed the rear C-notch kit, extreme drop crossmember, and an Air Ride Technologies airbag suspension, stashing the valve controls under the captain's seat.
In the interior department, Mario's Upholstery added subtle bolsters and re-covered the stock rear benches in period-correct pearl white vinyl, while '90s front buckets were pillaged from a wrecked Honda, then stripped, chopped 2 inches, and refoamed to look like '60s low-backs. Fat Lucky's subsequently worked up the vintage Hawaiian bark cloth front door panels and the custom sea grass floor mats to dial up the tiki factor.
To further the truck's tiki vibe, I installed bamboo throughout the 'Burb's cabin, inspired by how vintage woodies used hardwoods. Tropical matting was used for the dash panel, while Mooneyes gauges keep tabs on the mechanicals. A '63 Ford Falcon surrendered its center map console, which I repurposed to house a pair of A/C vents, the relocated ignition switch, and a Lokar Nostalgia shifter.
With the interior coming together nicely, I turned my attention to what is arguably the truck's most unique feature, the combination roof rack/upper deck. Knowing it would call for serious engineering, I contacted Austin's own EB Effects Lab. After several pencil sessions in which Everett Byron and I scratched our heads, we finally figured out how to do it. Everett fabricated the unit using mild steel tubing, employing a floating floorboard on a series of structural cross supports, and integrating a self-contained swing-down ladder for convenient rooftop access.
Not content to let others handle all the fabrication, I carved an army of tikis for the rack and another batch for the truck's grille. Each individual tribe member was hand-painted by "Crash," aka Cindy Raschke, who also added the bamboo effect on the roof rack, the Nomad side trim, and on other areas throughout the truck too numerous to list, from the custom overhead interior light fixtures to the Polynesian House O' Speed mural on the back of the rear bench.
Four years and a fat stack of receipts later, what started out as one man's brown daily driver is now another man's lime green rolling business card. I'd like to thank the many talented people in and around Austin, Texas, who helped make the House O' Speed tiki truck, now known as "Ratiki," a reality-including my wife, Debbie, who has graciously stopped referring to it by its original nickname.
|Facts & Figures|
|1965 Chevy Suburban|
|Modifications: ||CPP crossmembers|
|Rearend / Ratio: ||stock, Auburn posi / 3.73:1|
|Rear suspension: ||stock w/Air Ride Tech ’bags|
|Rear brakes: ||stock drum|
|Front suspension: ||Early Classic 2”drop spindles, Air Ride Tech ’bags|
|Front brakes: ||CPP disc|
|Steering box: ||power|
|Front wheels: ||Wheel Vintiques Solid, 16x7|
|Rear wheels: ||Wheel Vintiques Solid, 17x8|
|Front tires: ||BFG Comp T/A, 255/50R16|
|Rear tires: ||BFG Comp T/A, 275/60R17 |
|Engine: ||Chevy 383|
|Valve covers: ||’60s aftermarket, powdercoated|
|Manifold / Induction: ||Edelbrock / Demon 625|
|Headers: ||Hooker, Jet-Hot-coated|
|Exhaust / Mufflers: ||2 1/2" / Flowmaster|
|Transmission: ||700-R4 by Eagle Trans|
|Modifications: ||Corvette servo, 2,200-stall converter|
|Shifter: ||Lokar Nostalgia|
|Modifications: ||shaved emblems and rear doors|
|Bodywork and paint by: ||Twomey’s, Austin, TX|
|Paint type / Color: ||PPG / Apple Green, Pearl White|
|Graphics: ||Cindy “Crash” Raschke, Austin, TX|
|Headlights / Taillights: ||stock|
|Outside mirrors: ||So-Cal|
|Bumpers: ||stock, shaved bolts|
|Roof rack: ||Everett Byron, EB Effects Lab, Austin, TX|
|Dashboard: ||stock, bamboo-like graphics|
|Gauges: ||Mooneyes in bamboo-mat insert|
|Air conditioning: ||Vintage Air|
|Steering wheel: ||’63 Cad|
|Steering column: ||ididit tilt|
|Seats: ||modified Honda buckets, stock rears |
|Upholstery by: ||Mario’s & Fat Lucky’s, Austin, TX|
|Material / Color: ||vinyl and Hawaiian bark cloth / pearl white, multi|
|Carpet: ||factory-style loop, sea grass custom floor mats by Fat Lucky’s|
|Headliner: ||bamboo |