“If you think it, you can do it.”
You might have seen words similar to these on an inspirational poster hanging in the waiting room at your doctor’s office. Or maybe you’ve heard something like this while attending a Tony Robbins seminar. Rich Lupo of Long Island, NY, used this philosophy and put together his dream ride - a 2001 Ford Explorer Sport Trac.
Lupo’s goal for the truck was to build a competition-worthy audio system that would double as a spectator-friendly demo vehicle at soundoffs and car shows. Since the Sport Trac is Lupo’s daily driver, he wanted retain the usefulness of as much of the truck’s storage space as possible.
“I had the truck for about six months before I started to put together my system,” Lupo says. “I’d learned a lot from the Installer Institute and from my own experience, and I wanted to build the best system possible. I wanted to do it right the first time.”
To begin the install, Lupo completely rebuilt the center dash area by cutting the factory panels and modifying them with Fiberglas and body filler. He removed the factory center air vents and installed a Sony CDXCA90 head unit high up on the dash. Lupo then manipulated the monitor of a Philips Carin navigation system to enable it to receive multiple video sources, and installed it where the factory double-DIN radio originally was. Then he installed a Panasonic DV1500 single in-dash CD player where the heater controls were once housed. Lupo moved the heater controls to the center console (which was also completely redesigned), along with six rocker switches that control various vehicle functions and a remote commander for the Sony radio. Hidden underneath the center console is a Sony CDX757MX 10-disc MP3 changer.
When coming up with a plan for the front speakers, Lupo had to keep the truck’s ‘daily driver’ status in mind.
“In the past, I’ve built kick panels that sound awesome in a competition setting,” he says. “But in this case, I needed room for my left foot for daily driving. So, I decided to use the Infinity 6.1 Kappa Perfect component systems and I mounted just the tweeter in the kick panel. I took the tweeter apart and sprayed the grill and housing the same color as the car’s interior. Then I put the midwoofer in the factory door panels. There’s plenty of bass up front.”
For the rear speakers, Lupo again used the Infinity 6.1 Kappa Perfect component systems. He drilled the tweeter through the door panel and color-matched it with the rest of the interior for a near-perfect factory look, and he installed the midwoofers lower down in the door panels.
Hidden under the rear seat are two Infinity Perfect 10.1 10-inch subwoofers. They’re housed in separate down firing sealed enclosures constructed of MDF, hardware cloth, and fiberglass. Lupo says the enclosures are a little smaller than they should be, but the bass is really tight. The top of each enclosure is built into the bottom of the seat, and when the bass is pumping, the subs practically touch the floor.
As far as power goes, two JBL BP180.2 amplifiers deliver 180 watts to each Infinity component system, and a JBL BP1200.1 offers up 600 watts to each Infinity subwoofer.
Nestled behind the rear seat is a Sony XM satellite radio tuner and a Sony TV tuner, both of which work through the Sony head unit and the modified navigation monitor in the dash.
What’s In The Bed?
While the audio system inside the truck can be tweaked and tuned for SQ competition, Lupo decided to build a separate system in the bed of the truck to be displayed at car shows and parking lot events.
“I wanted to have something that could display the kind of work I can do as an installer,” Lupo says. “We raised the floor of the bed using 3/4-inch plywood and built an enclosure for the amps. All the amps are at an angle with two AudioControl EQT’s and an AudioControl crossover in the middle. I put some Plexiglas over the amp rack that sits flush with the rest of floor. The Plexiglas and plywood support lots of weight. I can put all sorts of storage on top of the amp rack.”
Two JBL GTi 12-inch subwoofers, another pair of Infinity 6.1 Kappa Perfect components, and a Necvox 6-inch monitor are installed up against the back wall of the bed. Lupo has a color reverse-image tube camera mounted up in the third break light, so when people come to look at the monitor, they can see themselves on the screen. Lupo also wired the tailgate, so that when he opens it, the amplifiers shift their power from the rear interior speakers to the speakers in the bed. And for daily driver purposes, a rugged rubber mat and a custom-made carpet cover the entire bed. A second cradle for the Sony remote commander allows control of the Sony head unit from the rear of the truck.
Keeping it Secure
For security, Lupo heavily modified a Viper 800. There’s a Wellen 75-watt strobe in each headlight, one in each taillight, and two in the third break light housing. When the alarm is triggered, the strobes flash from the front of the vehicle to the back, and visa versa. Increasing the theatrics, two 12-inch chrome trumpet air horns and a police siren amplifier scream at the first sign of security breach.
To keep would-be perpetrators out from underneath his hood, Lupo locks it down with a 5/16-inch galvanized chain and a MasterLock pad lock. To prevent punks from reaching up from under the vehicle to get to the wires, he installed a 1/4-inch-thick aluminum plate underneath the StreetWires gel cell battery and fuse distribution block.
Lupo has a “custom” Motorola hands-free kit. He took apart the Motorola hands-free microphone and Bondo’d it into the ceiling console that houses the compass and temperature gauge. He then mounted the Motorola speaker underneath the dash, for a stealth look.
“I integrated my window control modules with the hands-free kit so that whenever the phone rings, not only does the radio mute, but the windows automatically roll up,” he explains. “I did this by splitting the radio mute output on the hands-free kit between the radio and the window modules.”
Making further use of the ceiling console, Lupo took the internal workings of a Panasonic remote eye and installed them behind the tinted glass on the console. This way, he can point the remote control for the Panasonic DVD player anywhere and it works great, and when the power rear window of the truck is rolled down, he can control the DVD player from outside the truck to use the monitor in the bed.
Lupo thanks Joe Sareceno and Chris Dragon from the Harmon Consumer group for their support. He also thanks Todd Kirschner for his masterful woodworking feats and Chris Walkowiak for his help with the dash and center console.
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