There are few worse feelings for a gearhead than having your vehicle stolen. A former marine had his truck taken and vandalized, but a local dealership stepped in along with some aftermarket and body shops and brought his Dodge pickup back to life.
According to a report on CHRON.com, Mitch Akin was studying diesel engines and service at Universal Technical Institute, when thieves stole his 1997 Dodge Ram 2500 turbo-diesel pickup in March. He had only been in Texas two weeks and the truck was his only means of transportation. Mitch hitchhiked to school and walked when he couldn't find a ride.
Akin started working on cars and trucks at 15 and became interested in diesel engines during his Marine service in Afghanistan. He was going to school so that he could eventually be a a certified instructor for Cummins Inc. Akin was devasted when his beloved pickup was taken. But he refused to accept that his truck was gone forever, after doing some internet detective work, he got a lead via Craigslist and located the vehicle in a rough neighborhood about 20 miles from his home. Akin contact the police who recovered it but found that it had been spray-painted and badly damaged.
Once James Davis, president of Gulfgate Dodge Chrysler Jeep Ram heard about Akin's story he knew he had to do something to help make it right.
"He looked like he'd lost his best friend...He spent a lot of time putting it together, so when he found it, he was heartbroken. Because it was my product - a Dodge - I wanted to help him...He's a veteran and served his country. Luckily, we had vendors who came together to help us. Because we didn't have to carry the whole burden, we could go farther and do more."
Those vendors included Autoworld Collision Center who did a complete tear down then sand-blasting and refinishing all the body panels. Auto Facelifts of Houston installed a whole new interior including: a new dashboard, door panels, leather seats, headliner, carpet, new entertainment system, six speakers and two 10-inch subwoofers. They even added an embroidered U.S. Marine Corps logos in the headrests and a custom "USMC" piece on the dash. Mike's Truck Toys of Pasadena installed new 16-inch chrome wheels and 35-inch tires and other upgrades came about from Bulletproof Bumpers, and AP Autoglass.
Gulfgate Dodge handled the mechanical rebuild that totaled approximately $25,000 in repairs. They also installed a MOPAR electronic vehicle tracking system, that they hope Akin never has to use.
This amazing team effort came together to create an awesome truck for an awesome Jalop marine.
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