I just got back from a very successful Goodguys Show that was held at the Ohio Expo Center in Columbus, Ohio. Hundreds of pre-’72 custom trucks were among the 8,000-plus vehicles that invaded the showgrounds during the weekend. The early-model truck turnout was enough to fill up a couple of 4GB memory cards. July, August, and September are the peak months of the show season. Attending shows allows me to search for upcoming innovative trends of the early-model custom truck scene and capture quality features. During this year’s show season, I have noticed more builders paying close attention to their truck’s overall curbside appeal focusing on paint, interior, stance, and wheels/tires. The static drops have given way to even lower adjustable pneumatic suspensions that tuck wheels/tires deep inside the wheelwells, with many cases laying frame, rockers, or running boards. I am pleased to see wheel sizes have pretty much tapped out at 24-inch diameter to maintain the proportional scale of the truck. The paint schemes have mellowed out, electing to stay with mono or two-tone colors. Peering into the interiors that have décor of plush leather and factory or mild custom instrumentation. Milder sound systems have replaced the more exotic systems of recent years.

I am beginning to see less and less cross breeding when it comes to putting a Chevy in a Ford. I believe with the improved Ford Racing Performance Parts’ crate engine program that features their 4.6L, 5.0L, 5.4L modular engines, small-block 302ci, 351ci, and big-block 521ci powerplants have given the Ford truck builders no more excuses to ever transplant a Chevy in a Ford. The crate engine programs that are offered by both Chevrolet and Ford have made building custom early-model trucks more time and cost effective. I have done a couple of engine buildups comparing them to the purchase of a crate engine from Chevrolet or Ford. After taking the time to bust open a used engine, then disassemble, clean machine and assemble it, you are much better off to order a crate engine that comes with a warranty.

The 2011 custom early-model truck, show season has been uplifting, I have seen more finished quality projects. Yes, I think we can say the early-model custom truck scene is as strong as ever.