As I stroll the aisles of various truck shows these days, I am faced with a powerful question: What is happening to the custom truck scene? Granted, trends come and go, and they are what keep our hobby growing and evolving, but I personally cannot see Lambo doors and 26-inch wheels being the future of building and showing custom trucks and SUVs. Recently, I attended a local Southern California show, and as I wandered in search of some hard-hitting custom truck material to fill our fine publication, what I saw was a bevy of vehicles that looked as if they would be right at home in a rap video. What is this fascination with oversized, gaudy chrome wheels, Lambo doors, and interiors filled with enough audio gear to make the deaf hear again? I just don't get it. On top of the fact that I don't understand the fascination with this "baller style," where is all the green coming from to support such rides. Escalades fresh off the lot and in stock trim will definitely drain the wallet, so where is the excess cash coming from to install adjustable suspension systems, high-dollar wheels and tires, elaborate interiors, and audio systems?

The other problem I have with this style of customizing is it seems like an easy route to take. People are buying Escalades or Yukons, tossing on custom wheels and tires, installing air suspensions, and calling it done. I'm not saying everyone is taking the easy way out. I've seen a few rides sporting this style that have all the attention to detail and fine work that a wild show truck would call for; but for the most part, they're cookie-cutter rides with no real originality or ingenuity. When viewing these wallet-blasting vehicles, it makes me think of track-home projects where each model looks the same and the only thing that separates your house from your neighbors is a different color of paint.

Originality in our scene has gone by the wayside, and it seems as if people are building rides not to express their tastes or style but to fit in. Enthusiasts have put down their welders and plasma cutters; in their place, they have picked up sockets and screwdrivers and driven this hobby into a bolt-on arena. What happened to fabrication and actually building something? Shaving a set of taillights, installing a ragtop, or body dropping a truck? That's where it's at. Personally, I have never built a custom truck from the ground up, but I know firsthand the work and effort that goes into creating something extremely radical, and I appreciate that a lot more than something with just big wheels and an obnoxious stereo. Having participated in various stages of a custom construction process, there is no match for color-sanding fresh paint or reassembling a radical frame-laying beauty. Starting with a brand-new $60,000 blank canvas is a lot easier than taking a 20- or 30-year-old truck covered with rust, bumps, and bruises and making it show worthy. So what is all the hype about? TV shows that perpetuate this baller style have brainwashed enthusiasts into believing this is the only way to build custom rides these days. I hope things change and that the hobby of building and showing custom trucks returns, creating rides that push the envelope of insanity rather than vehicles that look as though they came off of a custom assembly line. To all you enthusiasts who are subscribing to this big wheels, big stereo, and bolt-on way of thinking, get out your welder and plasma cutter and start cutting something up. Until next month, keep hitting those switches, cranking good tunes (such as Tesla and Winger), and cruising until your heart's content.