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"RATIKI"  1965 Chevy Suburban

One Manís Roof Rack Is Anotherís Upper Deck


No self-respecting beach cruiser would be complete without a roof rack. Recalling sixties Volkswagen racks, I located a supplier. But the more I looked, the less convinced I was that I could get one to follow the contours of my Burb's roofline. So I found a supplier called Classic Roof Racks. Studying their photo gallery of woodies and high-end hot rods, I noticed that as nice as their racks were,  they really didnít conform to the roof lines of the various vehicles they were attached to, either.

So I set about finding a fabricator who could build me a rack. I recalled a local guy Iíd met at my neighborhood cruise night who owned a 1963 GMC Carryall, the same body style of my Suburban. He was a prop builder for motion pictures and Iíd been impressed by his metal working knowledge. I fished out his number and arranged a meeting. As it turned out, Everett was the ideal guy for the job. He had time,  the engineering and metal fabrication skills, and a shop at his house in Austin. Plus, he still owned his '63 Carryall, which he could use for reference. With functionality first and foremost, we plotted a built-in ladder for easy roof-top access. I wanted it to be aesthetically pleasing, too, as if it was built by the Chevroletís original designers. I also wanted to plumb the rack with wiring, so I could integrate turn signals and a third brake light into it. And one more thing: it needed to be under 7Ē tall to clear my garage door.

As it turned out, I couldnít have picked a better dude. The rackís framework was constructed using rolled steel tubing, to match the stock bench seat frames. To be load supporting, Everett made crossbows, which would hard mount to the ceilingís inner cross supports. The rack would have a floating floor, allowing the rackís floor to be perfectly level, while the frame itself would follow the contour of the truckís roof.


The floor is marine plywood, varnished to protect against the elements. We integrated seat mounts on the rack's floor so the bench seats could be affixed to the roof. In all, it took Everett and his brother Craig just over a week to complete. And while it was an ambitious undertaking and neither cheap nor easy to construct, itís the coolest freakin' roof rack Iíve ever laid eyes on.


With the hard part done, it was time for the fun part: Operation Tiki.

I hand cut and carved an entire army of tiki heads, who would stand guard on the rack. Crash hand-painted each one of them, just as she had the tribe in the truckís grill. She also faux painted the entire rack in a bamboo motif, just as she had the stock bench seat frames. The rack, prior to faux bamboo paint and tiki head detailing is modeled below by my way better half.







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