So there I am sitting in my office one day, when I get a call from a good friend of mine who is sitting at a local Ford dealership and is in hot-and-heavy negotiation with the sales manager ready to purchase a closeout special '03 Ford F-150. He is asking the usual questions I always get from friends and family members about options, actual costs, and do I think any of the dealer mark-ups are actually worth paying. Well, lo and behold, after 3 or 4 hours of my friend grinding the sales manager, he drove off the dealer's lot with a brand-new '03 Ford F-150. When I queried him why he didn't purchase the new '04 model (Truckin's 2004 Truck of the Year winner and a far-superior truck to the '03 model), he claimed he didn't really care for that body style and the deal was just too good to pass up on the '03. All right, sounds pretty cool, right?

Then I start razzing him about when he is going to either lift or lower the truck. Being that he is also the editor of HOT BIKE magazine - dealing exclusively with Harley-Davidsons and custom V-twin motorcycles - he tells me he thinks he may want to lower the truck a little bit to facilitate the loading of bikes into the bed.

Well, a few calls here and there, and we have a couple of technical how-to stories in place for this new truck at just the right price. The first one is actually in this issue, and I will get to that in a little bit. The second story, the actual lowering of the truck, you will have to read in next month's issue. However, after the truck was lowered, my friend calls me and tells me how cool he thinks his new truck is with just the right dropped stance and 20-inch wheels.

Then, another article that actually appears elsewhere in this issue involved altering the look of his truck forever - or does it? We had Triton Imaging in El Cajon, California, install some way-trick vinyl graphics onto the front end, and let me tell you, I am no fan of vinyl. Personally, I think anything with vinyl graphics belongs on an import car with a much too large muffler. However, these graphics installed by Triton Imaging are entirely something else. Needless to say, they look like the real thing. They are freshly applied with a razor knife and some finesse, and are finished in 3 to 4 hours, not 3 to 4 weeks such as actual paint.

So what does all this mean, you ask? Nothing really, except it shows that even a guy with no real intention of ever altering his truck now seemingly cannot stop. Around our offices we like to think of it as a sickness. The running joke is whenever you buy a new car, truck, SUV, bike, or whatever, you can't leave it stock - you just can't. This friend of mine has indeed been inflicted with the sickness because all I have heard since the truck was lowered and now sports cool graphics is how much more fun the truck has become to drive - so much so that he can't even envision ever returning to driving a completely stock truck ever again. Welcome to our world.

In keeping with our making of a custom truck owner, this issue packs quite a punch for those readers who are also inflicted with the custom truck sickness. In addition to providing a host of truck renderings from up-and-coming premiere graphic artist, Fast Eddy White, who has detailed many different truck ideas to feed your own personal illnesses, we also have numerous stories detailing what it takes to turn your stock and boring truck into a true show-stopper. Also, please check out the body parts buyer's guide that offers a host of new products to enhance or alter your truck's body, with parts ranging from a new tonneau to replacement fenders, to body panels that smooth those often protruding bulges in the truck's body. We have it all, so enjoy this issue, our annual custom paint and body installment.