Fresh out of high school in 1992, Manuel Pena got himself an ’88 Nissan Hardbody. During those times, the mini-truck scene was all the craze, so months later he found a truck equipped with hydros, custom paint, and a detailed undercarriage. By the late ’90s it was time for a change so he decided to start tinkering with his Buick Regal, which had a two-pump and eight-battery setup. Little did he know that this was just the start of his car customizing days and he’s been on full tilt ever since.

In 2005, after getting rid of a Lincoln, Manuel was on the hunt for a new project. That project? A Cadillac Escalade. As timing would have it, he was driving through Downey, California, and spotted what seemed to be an abandoned Cadillac Escalade. “It looked like it had just been sitting there, so I went over and asked the owner if he would sell it. The guy who owned it said that he didn’t drive it because gas had gotten to expensive and that he was just driving a little four-cylinder car. I didn’t care about gas prices so I bought it,” Manuel says.

Like so many others, his intentions were to keep it as a clean and slightly customized daily driver, but being a car customizer at heart, he couldn’t resist dumping money into it. He later met some of the guys from Swift Car Club and this is when phase two began. “I bagged it and put on set of 27s, but I knew that it wasn’t good enough to get into Swift, so I had to go back and redo it,” says the now current member. “They told me that I had to redo my paint and interior, but I decided to redo the whole truck.”

With that bit of advice, Manuel decided to go all out and get the frame and undercarriage painted, and he’s still planning on doing more, so keep an eye out for it in the 2014 show season. He would like to thank Fonzy, LA Kustomz, Tiarra Luxury Grilles, MHT wheels, his family for putting up with his hobby, and his Swift family.

Tech Specs

Vehicle Year/Make/Model: 2002 Cadillac Escalade

Vehicle Nickname: Green Reaper

Owner: Manuel Pena

City/State: Los Angeles, CA

Club: Swift

Engine: 5.3 V-8 with MagnaFlow exhaust and Kinetik battery

Body/Paint: First Class in Harbor City, CA, painted the SUV with a PPG Vibrance Candy Green, Mike Lamberson striped and leafed the outside, and Curly’s Pinstriping did the inside. Fonzy of Greaskull added the hood and tailgate murals.

Suspension: Ric of LA Kustomz in Santa Fe Springs, CA, installed the airbags with four compressors, eight valves, eight switches, and two tanks

Wheels/Tires: Chrome MHT 26-inch C17s

Interior: Joe of California Upholstery in Bell Gardens, CA, used suede, stingray, and burberry

Sound System: SSK Audio Proline installed the Pioneer head unit, Kicker amps, six Kicker L5 woofers, and JL Audio mids