When he was just 14 years old, Justin Duncan embarked on a custom truck project that would culminate in the masterpiece you see before you. When a friend of Justin's grandpop passed away, he left behind a rough-looking '74 Stepside and the hopes that it would go to a good home. Justin's pop thought that if they got the truck then, Justin would have a nice driver by the time he turned 16. He discussed the matter with his parents, who decided that the project with Pops would be a good experience because, as we all know, you appreciate it more if you help build it yourself. The $500 asking price was paid, and Justin, Pops, and Pop's friend Robert "Boogie" Bettencourt towed the truck into Pop's backyard.

Being only 14, Justin didn't really have a clue as to how to build a truck. He spent his afternoons and weekends tearing apart the truck, and his pops would send him home each night with the proper reading materials: truck restoration catalogs, Summit Racing catalogs, and the latest issue of Truckin' magazine, naturally. Justin called them "wish books" at the time, because he had no idea that many of these parts he dreamed of would eventually find their way onto the truck.

With the drivetrain removed and the bed and body separated from the frame, it was determined that they needed the first of what would turn out to be three parts trucks. A '79 front end and bed were recycled and the first incarnation of bodywork was begun. The two gas doors were shaved, along with all of the emblems, the stock taillights, and the tailgate chains. Justin's machinist uncle LeRoy then fabricated a set of one-off tailgate locks from billet aluminum. Since they had a bare frame, it was stripped and painted Platinum Gray. The chassis was rebuilt with mostly stock components and a 3/6 Belltech drop. The body was painted to match the frame, and the truck was put back together with new chrome, a billet grille insert, and 15-inch billet wheels. Then, in a surprise move, Pops came home with a brand-new 350 crate engine and a matching 350 tranny.

So by his 16th birthday, Justin was on the road with one of the cleanest daily drivers in town, but by then he had caught the bug. The first area to be redone for the second time was the interior and audio system. For what would be the only work performed outside of Pop's backyard, the truck was taken to Ultimate Car Toys in Dublin, California. A system was put together using a Premier 700 head unit with built-in EQ, four MB Quart components, Alpine 1507 and 407 amps, and a trio of JL Audio 10w6 subs. Hand-formed fiberglass door panels were formed to house the components, a console was built to house the three subs, and a rack was put together to show off the amps and crossovers that features red neon lighting behind clear plexiglass. The rest of the interior was decked out with Gray leather, velour, and wool carpet with help from Leon's Auto Upholstery. Finally, a Billet Specialties steering wheel and a truckload of other billet goodies were added to round out the interior.

Justin was happy with the addition of a killer interior and sound system -- so happy that he continuously drained the battery. Uncle LeRoy again came to the rescue and developed the bracketry to mount two Powermaster chrome 110-amp alternators using March Performance Pulleys. While they were under the hood, Pops, Leroy, and Justin decked out the 350 with every Edelbrock component under the sun. Now that the underhood area was clean enough to eat off of, Justin was once again back on the road.

After a short time, Justin began to feel like the Stepside just wasn't getting the attention it deserved. The situation was quickly remedied with a set of 20-inch Boyd Coddington Stingray wheels, 8 inches in the front and 9.5 inches in the rear. This was a vast improvement to the Stepside. But by this time, the truck culture was engrained into Justin's head and he decided he would not rest until his truck laid frame. Pops and Uncle Leroy convinced Justin it would be easiest to start with a new frame, so parts truck number four was purchased. After being quoted some very high prices for air systems, Justin and family again took matters into their own hands. They picked up four Slam Specialties airbags, a set of 1/2-inch MIC valves, two ceramic-coated 5-gallon tanks, and four Thomas 317 compressors. Pop and Boogie helped Justin add the 5-1/2-inch step notch to the rear of the frame. Uncle LeRoy fabricated 'bag mounts for the front and rear, and built a set of ladder bars to hold the rear end in place. LeRoy also machined an aluminum bridge to fit between the step notches. After welding everything up on the new frame, Justin took an extra month and filled every hole on the frame, then boxed the entire thing. Soon the frame was powdercoated gloss black and striped with blue and purple pinstriping. Finally, everything was reassembled and the new parts included chrome tubular control arms, stainless brake lines, and chromed disc brakes all around.

As a final touch to his masterpiece, Justin installed a set of custom-made clear side lenses. This was exactly four years after he turned the first wrench on the truck and exactly one hour before check-in time at the Oakland Rod and Custom show. There he won the Mild truck class as well as Outstanding truck overall. Soon, we caught up with Justin as his '74 was in the process of winning its class at the Spring Cal Truck Jam. Justin has since started a side business performing suspension mods and fabricating one-off parts, Flatline Fabrications. Now Justin's truck is the centerpiece in someone else's wishbook.

Before the bed could be united with the frame, Justin decided to add Harley-Davidson LED lights to the panel below the tailgate. While he was at it, the bedrail ends and stake pockets were filled. The entire exterior was then repainted with the same Platinum gray paint by Nick and Cary Greenwood, from Vogues Custom Creations in San Leandro, California, who are responsible for all of the paint and stripe work on the truck. This time around, they flamed the truck in House of Kolor Shimrin Pearls in blue and purple. At this point, the only area that had not yet received a "twice over" was the bed. A floor was made from plexiglass, and bedsides were machined from aluminum.

As a final touch to his masterpiece, Justin installed a set of custom-made clear side lenses. This was exactly four years after he turned the first wrench on the truck and exactly one hour before check-in time at the Oakland Rod and Custom show. There he won the Mild truck class as well as Outstanding truck overall. Soon, we caught up with Justin as his '74 was in the process of winning its class at the Spring Cal Truck Jam. Justin has since started a side business performing suspension mods and fabricating one-off parts, Flatline Fabrications. Now Justin's truck is the centerpiece in someone else's wishbook.

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