2002 Cadillac Escalade: #alwaystrending

For San Antonian Juan Molina, the biggest and baddest mods paved the way in the city where trending first matters.

Story: Michael Crenshaw

Photography: Pepper Perfect

Back in the early days of Juan Molina’s ownership of his 2002 Cadillac Escalade, things were, well, different. Wheels were smaller, painting concepts were varied and competition wasn’t as fierce. With the Internet making car communities smaller and more accessible, wheels became bigger and bigger, and challengers could almost literally come to your front door. Thankfully, with the push to become better than the rest, Juan stepped up and switched up his game year to year and trend to trend, ultimately becoming a San Antonio staple.

Being constantly enamored with the car scene in Texas and elsewhere, Juan began modifying as he saw the game rise. “I started out with 24s, then 26s, then I threw the 30s on, and I redid it again [with 32s],” he recalls. “I would always go to shows, and there was always competition, so I would have to step it up.”

And step it up he did. The main attention grabbers on this House of Kolor Kandy purple Esco are the massive 32-inch DUB Bandito wheels. With the help of air-bag suspension, this Barney-colored behemoth isn’t just a showpiece. “The first time I ever drove it was after a show. The trailer broke down 20 miles from home and it drove good. Only problem is the truck was already painted, so I had to drive with the air suspension all the way up, because I didn’t want to cut [the body] anymore.”

Beyond the colossal wheels, the next thing you notice is the Escalade’s deep, silky purple paint job. The coating was done by Abel’s Body & Paint Shop in San Antonio, and achieving the right shade of violet was painstaking; Juan went through 20-odd variations before he felt satisfied with the current hue. “[Juan] had picked a color from the House of Kolor books, and then, of course, when we saw that for the application procedures of how to color, it didn’t match what he wanted,” Dimas Quintana of Abel’s remembers. “So we had to tint the paint and tint the candy, and we did about 20-plus samples until we got the tone that he wanted.”

With that kind of attention to detail, it’s no wonder the “Game Over” moniker applies to the enlarged pinstriping that features a Vegas theme with flames, dice, money and chips. It all serves to state just how passionate Juan is about his purple Escalade, boldly claiming “down in San Antonio—how can I put it?—I set the trend. I put thought into it.” Also, the super-detailed etching on the grille makes for a subtle yet important conversation piece.

The visual stimulation doesn’t end with the exterior. Inside you’ll find 15-inch monitors sunken inside the doorcards, 11-inch headrest monitors and a 10-inch monitor in the dash to top it off. Making sure cinema-quality sound smothers the cabin while the visuals are playing, four massive 15-inch Kicker subwoofers, Focal speakers and 2,800 watts of Alphasonik amplifiers get the job done—and they do it well.

After almost 10 years of building, rebuilding, updating and setting trends, this Escalade is still far from finished. “I’m going to change the subwoofer box, and I’m going to put the sliding rag-top roof on—it’s about 40 by 80 [inches],” Juan says. “The rag-tops only come in standard colors: tan or black. Mine, I got in a custom color, special ordered.” It’s this kind of dedication and innovation that keeps things trending in Juan’s favor.

Spec The Technique:

Year/Make/Model: 2002 Cadillac Escalade

Performance: 5.3-liter Vortec engine

Exterior: House of Kolor Kandy purple paint by Abel’s Body & Paint; custom body kit; molded front and rear bumpers; 2011 Escalade front-end conversion; custom painted headlamps; shaved door handles, roof rack, wiper cowl; air-brush mural by Christopher Riley at Gunz-N-Hozez Airbrush; front Lambo doors; rear 180-degree suicide doors; custom-fitted wheels; air-ride suspension; hand-engraved grille and fender vents by Visual Imagez

Interior: Custom purple ostrich and stingray dyed by Rojé Exotics, stitched by Mustang Upholstery; fiberglass door panels; window switches, radio and A/C controls relocated onto custom console; suede headliner; billet steering wheel; all interior panels smoothed and painted

Ice: Focal door speakers; four 15-inch Kicker subs in fiberglass enclosure; 2,400-watt and 400-watt Alphasonik amps; 15-inch monitors installed in door panels; custom dash with 10-inch monitor; 11-inch headrest monitors; Pioneer AVH-P4100DVD head unit, installed by 309 Kustomz

Wheels/Tires: 32-inch DUB Bandito wheels; DUB TRI-ACE tires, 305/25/32