We have seen the popularity of the custom classic truck hobby explode over recent years, and the participation at shows greatly increase across the country. During the past four months, most of the country has been bundled up in hibernation mode. Custom truck enthusiasts just can't sit idle during the so-called dormant months, new show-season dates are resourced and marked on the New Year's calendar, then hotel reservations are confirmed.

Out in the shop or garage, many enthusiasts are busy bench racing, making changes, and upgrading their rides. Modifications are made, such as a serious engine buildup, tranny swap, or finally tossing the old leaf spring front suspension and grafting on a new aftermarket independent front suspension (IFS), with a set of disc brakes on all four corners. Improvements are made to the truck's agility and stance by channeling (old-school), or body-dropping (new-school) the body over the framerails. Then, installing a complete airbag suspension, allowing the suspension to be deflated and the rocker panels embedded into the earth's crust. Other changes are also made, such as chopping a top, smoothing the driprails, pie-cutting a hood, shaving door handles, or frenching a pair of head or taillights - just to name a few improvements - to give the truck a different attitude for the upcoming show 'n' shine season. Some folks even thrash feverishly to finish a complete new frame-off show-winner. We anticipate (as a competitor or spectator) eye-balling the fresh-built iron or fiberglass, looking for a change in direction, and raising the bar of innovation, trends, and styling. Then, of course, there are those who just winter-ize their ride with a quick wash, wax and buff, wipe down the interior leather, then roll it into the garage. They disconnect the battery, drain the fuel tank, then simply throw a cover over their pride 'n' joy, where it sits and waits through the winter months. Months later, the ritual begins with uncovering the family jewel, pulling the valve covers and pouring thin viscosity oil over the rocker arms, pushrod, and valve and valvespring assembly, letting it drip down like syrup over pancakes, preventing any metal to metal rubbing during the initial engine turnover. A couple of 5-gallon cans of fresh high-octane fuel is emptied into the fuel tank, and the battery is reconnected, followed by disconnecting the coil wire. The ignition is then thumbed over to the on position, allowing the engine turn over repeatedly with no spark, pre-lubing the engine's internal components. The ignition is turned off. After reconnecting the coil wire, the loud pedal is given a couple of taps, the key is again indexed to the on position, and the engine turns over a couple of times, fires, the loppy cam's heartbeat retains the engine's rhythmic pulse, pumping up the oil pressure, reviving everything sending, and normal vital signs are displayed on the gauge panel. As the engine warms up to its normal running temperature, it is carefully backed out of the garage and out into the street. Then, just as it has been done every year before this one, it is firmly run through the gears - oh, what a feeling. Yes, it is time for another show season.

Every year at this time we are anxious to see the springtime thaw and watch the upcoming custom show circuit crank up. A new show season brings the opportunity of meeting new friends and seeing old ones. Of course, we check out the latest products and a Q&A session with the aftermarket manufacturers, rummaging through the swap meet bargains, and, of course, strolling up and down every aisle, closely scanning every piece of highly polished billet, chrome, and painted iron that rolls on wheels.

Some people anticipate and welcome spring with its fresh smells, chirping birds, and bright colors. Custom truck enthusiasts do the same, but their welcomed spring smells are the scent of aviation exhaust, burnt rubber, and burning clutches, and the sounds of a rumbling throaty V-8, the whining of a gear drive, or the hissing of a supercharger, squealing tires during a smoky burnout, or the tune of a well-timed speed shift as the tires chirp through the gears. Those are the sights, sounds, and smells of a serious gearhead welcoming the first days of spring.

So, let the 2004 show season begin!