• Wheels24 reader Shaun Isaacs shares details on what makes his 2012 Chevrolet bakkie special.
• The bakkie is fitted with air ride suspension, custom-made bodywork and boasts a banging sound system.
• Prices of air ride suspension systems can range anywhere from R25 000 to R100 000 locally.
South Africa's car culture is filled with so many unique rides, and custom builds that unjustifiably doesn't get the recognition it deserves 'in the limelight'.
Whether it's a drag-ready hatchback that makes ludicrous amounts of power or a bakkie fitted with air ride suspension, enthusiasts keep raising the bar in the pursuit of being different and changing the game.
This article focuses on the latter and one Wheels24 reader that owns an awesome ride with some fantastic additions.
Bagged and banging
Shaun Isaacs hails from Paarl in the Cape Winelands and is the proud owner of a 2012 Chevrolet UTE bakkie. He first acquired the bakkie in 2017 – a stock and company car-looking example, as he notes, with 96 000km on the clock.
Does your ride feature one-of-a-kind customisation that sets it apart from the rest? Please email us; we'd like to feature it on Wheels24.
Unaware at the time, the customisation bug had bit and this set the special plans in motion for his newly-acquired ride. For starters, to get an idea of how the bakkie would look lowered, Shaun had the springs of the stock suspension heated to see how it would look, and it was the proverbial love at first sight scenario.
Not long after, the stock wheels were given notice of eviction in favour of an eight-spoke slight concave style. At present, the bakkie is fitted with a set of gunmetal-finished 17-inch Volk Racing lightweight alloys.
Merely two months after purchasing the bakkie, the decision was made to install air ride suspension – a fitment method that has become common in the stance culture. After doing a bit of homework and receiving many friends' recommendations, he ended up trusting Starlin Karsten to do the install.
Karsten is the owner of SK Airworx, which was established in 2013, and is no stranger to vehicle customisation and tuning. He once owned a bagged Toyota Corolla Professional, and is currently in the process of fitting a 2JZ-GTE engine into his Hilux bakkie – the guys over in Paarl mean business and don't mess about.
I've met Starlin when he fitted an air ride system to my 1993 Mercedes-Benz 190E.
Pride and joy
It's uncommon for bakkies to feature sound systems, but Shaun's one has some nice equipment. It consists of three 10-inch JBL subwoofers running off a 7 000W Energy Audio monoblock. Kicker splits are also in the mix with a 3 200W Powerbase 4-channel amplifier, all of which plays through a Sony tape deck. The interior has seen no additions or changes and remains stock.
In addition to the air ride suspension system and sound system, Shaun also had a set of custom-made side skirts fitted to the bakkie.
"Now this guy is magic. He assisted with a few ideas like the airlift side skirts, which I'm crazy about even though I had my mind on a different one. All the black sections and skirts were resprayed with high gloss paint, which enhanced the detail even more," Isaacs added.
Shaun explains that the system fitted to his ride allows him to control each wheel individually – up, side or even both ways - from inside the cabin via a switch and a plethora of directional buttons. The bags are controlled from their own management system instead of the more basic system that allows up and down movement when the ignition is on.
Both the head and spotlights have been fitted with aftermarket Xenon bulbs to add that extra bit of exclusivity.
Future plans for the bakkie include the fitment of a full bolt-on turbo setup. It's not every day that you'll see a turbocharged Chevrolet bakkie, so we're excited to see the end product.