Old School: Bevan Drew’s bagged 1991 Rodeo

Who says old-school tricks can’t work on late-model mini-trucks?

Photographers: Martin Wielecki

Often, when people attempt to style modern cars using old techniques, it all goes horribly wrong. Imagine a flat-black VN Commodore with red wheels and whitewalls, and a crap flame job.

First published in the April 2007 issue of Street Machine

So it’s a relief to see Bevan Drew’s Rodeo mini-truck. We spotted it at Summernats 20 and were drawn in by all the neat little touches that Bevan and his good mate Sam Rayner had built in.

“I just wanted a clean truck; no bags, nothing crazy, just wheels, lowered and clear tail-lights. I think it got out of control, just a little,” Bevan admits.

“I bought the car already airbagged but we’ve rebuilt all of it as the mounts were below the chassis and you couldn’t get it really low,” he says.

For the serious work the truck was off the road for a year. “I thought it took forever but everyone else seems to think that was pretty quick. It’s my first build, so I didn’t really know.”

The tech sheet is brief: there’s a 3.8-litre Ecotech engine, Commodore radiator, thermo fan, custom 2.5-inch exhaust, four-speed Turbo 700 ’box and stock diff.

It gets more interesting in the suspension, with Firestone 2600 airbags helped by VW and Pedders shocks. The diff is a triangulated four-link and the airbags allow front-to-back and side-to-side control.

The airbags get it low but to prevent the diff smacking anything, the chassis has been notched seven inches in the back, while the gearbox crossmember has been raised.

Rodeos weren’t designed with wheel tubs to suit this ground-hugging stance so Bevan and Sam raised and smoothed the rear tubs and used trailer fenders to tub the fronts — cheap and effective.

There are quite a few mini-trucks running around now but not many owners have customised the bodies to this extent. There are the usual shaved door handles, aerial and fuel filler, but check out that super-smooth cargo tray. There’s also a rolled rear pan, the A-pillars have been capped with steel (replacing plastic trim), and a set of ’89 Cadillac tail-lights are frenched into handmade buckets.

Press the remote button and the doors open suicide-style on a set of Thorbecke Bros hinges. They were a major bit of work. “After Sam installed it all, the truck was a mess but he did a great job of smoothing it all,” Bevan says.

Inside, it’s been restyled to look like it’s straight out of the 60s. The original bench was reshaped — “That took the trimmer 40 hours and he’s still not happy with me!” — while the door cards were custom-made by Bevan and covered in red leather by Brad’s Custom Trim. More of that hide went into covering the seat, kick panels and even the seat bolt covers.

You may remember Sam Rayner’s stunning EH, H-BOMB, in the May ’04 issue of SM. “I thought we’d cut costs by using Sam’s surplus EH parts,” Bevan says.

Those parts included door handles, window winders, rear-view mirror and switchgear. The hood-lining was made in reproduction EH material with steel bows for a more authentic look, and the sun visors were covered in the same trim. On the driver’s side there’s a digital air pressure gauge. Not really old-school but needed for the airbags.

A machine-turned panel surrounding the gauges finishes things off. Bevan fitted a Commodore speedo to the Rodeo dash to match up with the gearbox. A Billet Specialties Banjo steering wheel, CNC-machined knuckle duster on the handbrake, and billet pedals and steering boss by Kel Blackert mean there’s virtually no plastic left.

The final touch was the red-oxide primer finish for the exterior. “I picked a two-pack maroon and added about 50 per cent flattener — any less and it just looked like a gloss job gone bad,” says Bevan.

Scallops were sprayed in flat black but a car like this isn’t finished until it’s got some pinstriping. Geoff the Striper got the job, outlining the scallops in off-white and attacking the tailgate and bonnet.
“I don’t know how the hot rod crowd will react,” Bevan says, “but I like the no-bling style. Hopefully they’ll like it too.”


You probably noticed that Bevan drives around with a bomb in the back. Don’t worry, it’s just the air tank.

“I had a nice airbrushed tank with a skeleton and flames but it didn’t really suit. Sam wanted to add a real Bombwerks touch, so he came up with the idea of turning it into an old-style bomb.”

Although the Bombwerks name is derived from Sam’s H-BOMB EH, the term ‘bomb’ also describes early-style lowriders. The most popular models for this treatment are late 30s to late 40s Chevrolets, especially the Fleetlines.

Whereas most people modify them by removing accessories and trim, the guys who are into bombs look for every conceivable option and trim they can find. Most run hydraulics, not airbags, and tiny 13-inch chrome wires with thin-line whitewalls.

It’s a style that never really took off in Australia but maybe it’s the next big thing! Or maybe not.


Colour:Metacryl Maroon two-pack with flattener
Brand:Holden 3.8-litre V6
Cooling:Commodore radiator and thermo fan
Exhaust:Custom 2.5-inch raised above rails
Gearbox:T700 with Commodore trans-cooler
Springs:Firestone 2600 airbags (f&r)
Shocks:VW (f), Pedders (r)
Mods:Triangulated four-link rear, chassis notched seven inches
Rims:Boyd Coddington Timeless 6, 18×7 (f&r)
Rubber:Firenza ST-03, 225/40 (f&r)

Sam Rayner, Bombwerks; Dale Ludlow; Rowan Hawley; Kel Blackert; Brad’s Custom Trim; Leesa, my girlfriend; Lauren and Shae, Sam’s and Dale’s wives.