Mafia Secrets
Kick it on back

By Bryan Martin, contributing writer

I will agree the front bumper of your truck is a big deal. But let us not forget about the back end of the rig. Once you get the bumper, visor, stacks and fenders you have been dreaming of, the rear light bar is next on the agenda.

Most rear frame treatments and rear bumpers are polished stainless steel, but some chrome-plated versions are available too. For those who prefer to paint or powder coat your rear light bars, aluminum or steel construction may be a better choice for you.

Mounting and installation are typically not difficult. However, you will need the ability to drill the frame, and some knowledge of electrical circuits to tie in to your factory tail lamp and brake light wiring. Beyond that, general mechanical ability and standard hand tools should suffice.

Let’s discuss our parts and styling options now.

Rear crossmember cover: While not available for all makes and models, you can buy stainless steel preformed covers to wrap the rear crossmember of your truck. These generally cost less than $100 and can be installed in less than an hour. It’s a quick and cost-effective way to add a li’l bling to your tail.

Lighted rear center panel: These panels are available in dozens of different light layouts to accommodate all tastes. They usually come pre-assembled with LED lights included, so all the installer is required to do is hang it and wire it. One recommendation is to purchase the rear splash panel to cover the backside of the center panel. This will keep the road trash, slush, ice and elements from building up behind the panel and deteriorating the electrical connections.

Two-piece rear flap hangers: For those who opt for the rear crossmember cover and/or lighted rear center panel, the two-piece flap hangers are the way to go. These are available in a rigid mount style, which bolts solidly and directly to the chassis. Or, most chrome shops offer a spring-loaded version that allows for some flex of the flap hanger should it get pressure applied against it. The spring-loaded version doesn’t cost a great deal more than the rigid-mount style, and typically offers a longer life expectancy.

One-piece, full-width rear light bar: This classic design never goes out of style. Pricing goes from approximately $300 and up on the imported bars.

The higher-quality made-in-USA brands may get up over $600, but they offer thicker metal and more durable construction. The most popular design is the six-light option with three lights each side, but they are also available in numerous other light configurations.

T-bar rear bumper: You can get either chrome-plated or stainless steel rear T-bars. These start at under $600 each and are a little more elaborate than the standard one-piece full light bar. If your rig is equipped with full fenders, a T-bar is the perfect way to cap off the back end.

Be advised: We suggest that you beef up the bracket system to make it stronger than what is supplied from the manufacturer. Our boys put steel stiffener braces inside the T-bar to minimize vibration. When appropriate, we even run a bracket from down low on the backside of the T-bar to another anchor point somewhere on the chassis.

Custom T-bar: The sky is the limit on these bad boys. If you can dream it and draw it, there is a fab shop that can build it. Just check out the show trucks next time you are at a big event, and you’ll see some designs and craftsmanship that’ll make your jaw drop. It amazes me, the tedious welding, bodywork and intense amount of labor hours that some fellas put into these T-bars. Ultra cool.

Wrap up: Lastly, don’t forget the li’l items needed to trim out your project. Mud flaps, flap weights, chrome bezels for your light grommets and good quality electrical wire plugs, wire ends and heat shrink tubing to seal off the wiring connections.

In closing, let me leave you with these words of inspiration: Beautify America’s highways: Dress up your rear. Ya hear me? LL