Back in 1776, the founding fathers signed the Declaration of Independence to ensure that all Americans could live in a land of opportunity. Millions have fought and died to protect the fundamental freedoms that many of us take for granted. But a retired Army Staff Sergeant named Hank Robinson decided to pay tribute to the fallen heroes of the modern era when he engraved the entire aluminum body of a 2016 Ford F-150 show truck called Freedom Blues.
Hank Robinson of Hanro Studios engraves his latest show truck for the 2017 SEMA Show
Over a 10 year span, Hank Robinson was deployed in the war zones of Afghanistan and Iraq. When he retired in 2011, he found that transitioning back into civilian life wasn't as simple as most people would think. One day you're fighting insurgents on a rooftop. And the next, you're fighting for a parking spot outside a Wendy's. Turning off Survival Mode isn't easy for many veterans unless they can figure out a way to channel their focus into the present and future. This is why Hank decided to use the G.I. Bill to attend welding school, where he wound up trying his hand at metal engraving. He enjoyed it so much that he began engraving one-of-a-kind gifts for family and friends, and eventually started Hanro Studios out of his garage.
The Freedom Blues Ford F-150 was intended to bring a message of hope to veterans that were struggling with the same issue. It was prominently featured at the 2016 SEMA Show in Las Vegas, and Hank even did live engraving sessions during the show to complete the artwork. The truck was then displayed at over a dozen shows, including the Goodguys All-American Sunday in Scottsdale, and it led a procession of bikes on a Ride for the Fallen.
The Hanro Freedom Blues Ford F-150 on display at the 2016 SEMA Show
“Lots of vets came to see it at shows. The overall vibe that I got was nothing less than positive. Even on all the social media channels, I got like one hater. Which is pretty unique in this day and age.” Hank went on to explain, “A lot of veterans have said, 'Hey man I need to find a different outlet, maybe not engraving, but something to help transition back.' It's pretty cool that the art would give them the motivation to do something other than what they're doing.”
After an extensive tour on the show circuit, the Hanro Studios Freedom Blues F-150 was featured on the cover of Truckin’ magazine, and it garnered the attention of West Coast Customs owner Ryan Friedlinghaus, who invited Hank out to LA to do some engraving work on a Cadillac they were building for legendary rock star Kid Rock. Turns out the Coupe DeVille was originally owned by country music legend Waylon Jennings. WCC and Kid Rock wanted to rebuild the car as a tribute to Jennings, and the custom engraving work turned out to be the perfect finishing touch.
Freedom Blues featured a K&N 77-2591KP intake engraved with an American flag
Robinson was doing an engraving demonstration at a show in Atlanta when Inside West Coast Customs did the reveal at Kid Rock’s home in Tennessee. “Ah that sucks,” Robinson said when he found out that he couldn't make the reveal. But he went on to say, “It was awesome. Everybody at West Coast showed nothing but respect. I had an amazing time.”
As far as the Freedom Blues show truck, it will be auctioned off in January 2018, at the famous Barrett Jackson Scottsdale auction. A portion of the proceeds will go to a fantastic organization called The Warrior Built Foundation, which provides veterans with the tools and training they need to explore a new life in the automotive and fabrication world. And to replace his now-famous show truck, Hank is building an all-new truck for the 2017 SEMA Show called “Aluminati”.
The Hanro Aluminati show truck is based on a 2017 Ford F-250 Super Duty
The Hanro Studios Aluminati show truck is based on a 2017 Ford F-250 Super Duty, and the name was chosen from several hundred social media submissions (it’s a play on words since the 2017 Ford Super Duty now has an all aluminum body). Hank purchased both show trucks himself, so this one will become his personal “mobile engraving station” once the car show season is over. In the back, it will have an onboard air, vacuum, and power supply system that was designed and built by Truck Vault. The overall concept and artwork were created by Robinson, and ECD Customs. Chris Payne from Truck Guru created the renderings and is acting as project manager for the build.
The Aluminati show truck will need approx 1,100 hours of engraving (Leap of Faith Photography)
Among its many modifications, the Hanro Aluminati will have an engraved lift kit from McGaughys Suspension, engraved rims from American Force Wheels, and they’ll be wrapped in equally imposing rubber from Interco Tires. Of course, the bumpers and grille will be completely engraved, and the LED exterior lighting will probably be visible from the International Space Station. Under the hood, the new 6.7L Powerstroke Diesel engine will get a K&N 63-2597 intake, which will naturally receive his artistic touch. Hank said, “There’s no doubt K&N is going on this truck, and I’m excited to see what they can do for the new Super Duty.”
Since this will eventually be Robinson’s “work truck”, the interior will be all about luxury. Scottsdale Upholstery is installing black Roadwire leather seats, and Roadwire even provided enough extra leather to wrap the doors, dash, and console. On the outside, Troy Buck of FX Autobody laid down the slick black/silver color scheme. And Hank will spend an estimated 1,100 hours with his Dremel tool, carving multiple Hanro Studios themed designs into the body.
The Hanro Aluminati show truck will be on display at the 2017 SEMA Show in Las Vegas
When he’s not traveling to give live engraving demonstrations or working on other projects, Hank has been working sunup to sundown to complete this build on time. “My wife, Christine, is my best support structure. She works full-time, she’s a part-time real estate agent, she takes care of our three kids full-time, and she still finds time to bring me breakfast, lunch, and dinner at the shop. Without her, I couldn't do any of this.”
We at K&N would like to thank Mrs. Robinson for helping her husband’s vision become reality. If you would like to check out the result of all their hard work, stop by the Truck Hero booth (# 61040) at the 2017 SEMA Show in Las Vegas.
Hank Robinson will show off his metal engraving skills on his latest 2017 SEMA Show truck