Ben Hermance's mother still has Ben's first rendering that was identifiable as a car. He was 4 years old when he drew that blue tow truck. Art was always a passion after that day, but Ben didn't consider it as a career until concepts by Chip Foose, Steve Stanford, Thom Taylor, and others convinced him to forfeit a full university academic/sports scholarship in his sophomore year and pursue a career in design. He won a truck design contest in 2004, started doing renderings for free to get exposure, and set up an online gallery of his work. His efforts have netted him more than 30 project vehicles he had designed, some of which debuted at SEMA this past year.

Ben has a style that preserves the almost liquid nature of the light reflecting from tangerine pearl and silver, which was painted on the curves of this '56 Chevrolet pickup. The front of this custom classic bears a billet grille and a cool-looking blinker-integrated headlight. Twenty-inch front and 22-inch rear Billet Specialties Magnitude wheels shimmer with reflections from imaginary lights. A two-toned tan interior with micro-suede accents put an exclamation point on this truck's classy style.

What you can't see is the 'bagged suspension, the boxed frame that is notched for the tubbed rear wheel wells, and a Camaro front subframe, and 9-inch Ford rearend. A supercharged LSX was coupled to a six-speed transmission, which might propel the pickup off of the page.

Ben loves everything about his custom-truck pastime. The most rewarding aspect of this work is when a client tells him he nailed it, based simply on a couple phone conversations and a few emails; which is what he did for us. Pressed for time, we asked him to whip something up for his second concept that would still look good, but still get in for our deadlines. Ben worked up a custom version of Ford's new F-450. He laid on the black and silver paints, which were highlighted by orange pinstripes and a checkered flag fade. Billet grille inserts accentuate the truck's formidable front end. A composite body kit with HID headlights and an aluminum rear racing wing slanting up from the composite tonneau make an already outsized truck bristle. Ben shaved the door handles and roof lights, then bolted on a set of 20- and 22-inch KMC XD775 wheels (painted black), and powered the F-450 with a twin-turbocharged 6.4L and six-speed tranny. Meanwhile, an airbagged suspension manages to pull the tall truck back down to street level.

Ben Hermance