It all started when we looked around and didn't see anyone providing a platform for the truck enthusiast who builds their truck for more than just showing in a parking lot and taking home a plastic trophy. Don't get us wrong, there is absolutely nothing wrong with spending hours detailing your truck and showing it off for the whole world to see, but we also feel there is something valiant to be said for a truck owner who is willing to push the limits of their pride and joy-all for the sake of proving its ability. Truck owners and custom truck builders often get a stigma in the performance world that a 4,000+ pound pickup can't keep up with a muscle car or today's sports cars. We think that's a bunch of bologna and to prove all of the skeptics blatantly wrong, we assembled six incredible trucks to showcase just how much fun can be had in a hot rod with a bed.

And that my friend, is how Truckin's Throwdown was created. Throwdown consists of five performance tests and one subjective category for overall styling. Each test and the styling category are worth five points, for a grand total of 30 available points. Each performance test is designed to push the truck's handling, powertrain, and driver ability. First up, each truck was slammed through a 600-foot slalom to see the truck's body roll and energy transfer. Next up, the trucks were sent down our test facility track in an all-out, wide-open 0-60 mph and 1/4-mile straight-line competition. During this part of Throwdown, several impromptu drag races broke out and we witnessed some side-by-side, high-speed action providing a feeling of yesteryear's hot rodders. We've been harping on upgrading your truck's braking system, so it was only fitting to see what kind of braking performance these trucks could harness. Each truck was asked to slam on the brakes once they reached 60 mph and hold on tight to the steering wheel. Once all six trucks had completed the bevy of tests, the real fun began as we moved over to our autocross course. We laid out this course to challenge not only each truck, but also the ability of each driver to navigate the tight-cornered, technical, 10-turn course. When the dust and tire smoke literally settled, we checked the GPS data acquisition gear and the competition was closer than we ever imagined, with only five points separating first and third place. Take a look at the results and you'll see how each truck fared.

"Throwdown" implies testosterone, competition, trash talking, and bravado, but what started out as a genuine competition turned into a day filled with camaraderie, laughter, and everyone having a great time. Trucks were meant to work hard, but so often, after customizing them for years, truck owners don't drive them aggressively, won't push the limits, and are more worried about scratching the paint than doing smoky burnouts. Look at the trend in muscle cars and street rods, owners and builders are driving them, and driving them hard. It's about time we as the truck enthusiast community put our money where our mouth's are and drive our trucks until the wheels fall off. Think your truck has what it takes to compete in our 2011 Throwdown? Go to and complete the registration form for a chance to drive your truck to its limits.

Project Drift King
Drift King is one of our new-for-2011 projects and even though we're showing you the finished product now, we'll show you how we got to this point in several tech articles in future issues. Sorry for spoiling the end of the movie (or in this case, project truck), but we couldn't pass up an opportunity to flog our latest in-house build. This Equator isn't your typical midsize truck with a simple drop kit, rather it's a truck built to drift and drift well. Out on the track, it did just that and thanks to the rental-car-style hand e-brake, as soon as the boost kicked in around 3,800 rpm, a quick yank on the e-brake and the Suzuki turned into a stunt double for Fast and Furious: SoCal Drift. Lack of sway bars did hamper slalom performance and its long wheelbase didn't bode well in the autocross. Overall, it came in dead last against some strong competitors, but Project Drift King did manage to make some new fans once the rearend kicked out and the tires started smoking.

At A Glance
2009 Suzuki Equator

Engine 4.0L V-6 with Stillen intercooled supercharger, Stillen intake, Stillen headers, Stillen exhaust, and Stillen ECU tuning
RWHP 309
Suspension Bio Kustoms spindles and QA1 coilovers, with rear four-link and QA1 coilovers
Brakes Stock Suzuki calipers with front and rear Stillen slotted and drilled sport rotors and Hawk brake pads
Wheels/Tires 20x8.5-inch MB Motoring Gunner 6 wheels and Toyo Proxes ST-II 255/45R20 tires
Weight 4,303 pounds
Pros High RPM boost + hand e-brake = instant drift machine
Cons No sway bars made for excessive body roll, long wheelbase made quick turns difficult

0-60 MPH (Worth 5 Points) - 7.7
1/4-Mile (Worth 5 Points) - 16.11
Speed Through 100-ft Slalom (Worth 5 Points) - 59.48
60-0 MPH Braking (Worth 5 Points) - 106 Feet
Autocross Time (Worth 5 Points) - 40.06
Styling (Subjective Score Worth 5 Points) - 3

Total Points Earned (Out Of 30) - 9

Shelby F-150 Super Snake
Last month, we showed you the Shelby F-150 Super Snake in all its typical truck magazine beauty, but this truck wasn't built to sit still and be looked at, rather it was built to prove that Shelby could add their performance heritage to a pickup truck. Based on '04-'08 Ford F-150s, the Shelby Super Snake adds a Ford Racing/Whipple supercharger to the factory 5.4L, a lowered sport suspension from DJM with big, 22-inch wheels, and a hearty exhaust from Borla. Those parts installed on any truck would bring an ear-to-ear grin for the fortunate driver, but the laws of physics proved too much for this 5,681-pound truck. The claimed 475 hp wasn't enough to propel the Shelby into the top three in any performance category and the untuned suspension was quickly disrupted when pushed hard around the slalom and autocross course. Halfway through our test, the power steering pump began to make an unusual groaning noise typically heard from humpback whales, and even though the power steering pump didn't fail, it was very unnerving. Voted the best truck to blast to Vegas in because of its comfort, freeway passing ability, and good looks, the performance tests proved too much for the Shelby to overcome and it finished in fifth place.

At A Glance
2008 Shelby F-150 Super Snake

Engine 5.4L with a Ford Racing/Whipple intercooled supercharger
RWHP 386
Suspension DJM 2/4 drop kit using control arms and flip kit
Brakes Baer/Shelby 15-inch rotors and six-piston calipers
Wheels/Tires 22-inch Alcoa/Shelby wheels and Yokohama Parada 305/40R22 tires
Weight 5,681 pounds
Pros Low-end torque feels like a big-block, comfortable for long trips, a real head turner
Cons Heavy weight limited performance, needs bigger sway bars and tuned shocks, weird noise from power steering pump

0-60 MPH (Worth 5 Points) - 6.8
1/4-Mile (Worth 5 Points) - 14.96
Speed Through 100-ft Slalom (Worth 5 Points) - 55.6
60-0 MPH Braking (Worth 5 Points) - 134 Feet
Autocross Time (Worth 5 Points) - 40.74
Styling (Subjective Score Worth 5 Points) - 4

Total Points Earned (Out Of 30) - 10

Project Novakane
Unlike other truck magazines that talk the talk and never drive their trucks hard, Project Novakane is proof that we walk the walk. Built with a single purpose in mind-domination, Novakane takes truck performance to a grass-roots level that every truck owner can relate to. Whether going fast, taking a corner at a high speed, braking on a dime, or showing a muscle car what a truck can do, the first phase of Novakane uses easy-to-install, bolt-on parts that literally transformed the GMC. With its worn-out factory five-speed transmission slipping in second and third gear, the straight-line times suffered, but the truck managed a first-place finish in the slalom, which is a true testament to the Hotchkis and McGaughy's suspension components. Another area where the Sierra handled business was the braking test, where it took home top honors thanks to the AP Racing rotors and calipers, along with the sticky Nitto tires. Right after this test, we added a COMP cam, FAST intake, and ASP Racing underdrive pulleys that would have dropped the times even more, but we didn't want to miss an opportunity to hammer on a truck we knew could take a beating. Be sure to stay tuned, as phase two of the Sierra build will have this truck dominating next year's competition in each category.

At A Glance
2004 GMC Sierra

Engine 4.8L with a 75 shot of NOS nitrous, Banks intake, Banks headers, Banks exhaust, Banks programmer, and Flex-a-Lite e-fans
RWHP 257 n/a and 308 with nitrous
Suspension McGaughy's 2-inch drop spindles, Hotchkis 2-inch coil spring, McGaughy's 2-inch shackle, Hotchkis front and rear sway bars
Brakes AP Racing 14.25-inch rotors with six-piston calipers and AP Racing14-inch rotors with four-piston calipers
Wheels/Tires 20x9-inch BMF Novakane wheels and Nitto NT05 275/40R20 tires
Weight 4,211 pounds
Pros We bolted everything on ourselves and you could too; low investment, five-speed trans = smiles per gallon
Cons Needs more power (we added more later), worn-out manual trans, needs better shocks

0-60 MPH (Worth 5 Points) - 7.7
1/4-Mile (Worth 5 Points) - 15.60
Speed Through 100-ft Slalom (Worth 5 Points) - 63.83
60-0 MPH Braking (Worth 5 Points) - 78 Feet
Autocross Time (Worth 5 Points) - 37.31
Styling (Subjective Score Worth 5 Points) - 0

Total Points Earned (Out Of 30) - 14

Hotchkis' G-Machine
Synonymous with handling, Hotchkis is the go-to company for turning a stock truck into a real performer. It's because of their established heritage that we weren't surprised when one of their test mules starting tearing up our test course. Bringing out their in-house '68 C10, owner and driver Mike Hickman impressed everyone when he strapped himself into the racing seat and proceeded to beat on the Chevy truck like it stole something from him. The very basic setup in the classic truck proved that parts selection is vital when preparing a truck for speed. Using sticky Kumho Ecsta XS tires, the C10 managed a third place finish in the autocross course, second place in the slalom, and the lively 383ci small-block pulled the Chevy to second in the 1/4-mile. Watching Mike sling this C10 all over the autocross course, we're pretty sure he painted the truck orange so it would hide the orange cones flying around it. All in all, this truck was impressive in every category and finishing third overall shows the intense competition he was up against.

At A Glance
1968 Chevy C10

Engine 383ci small-block with a hot cam, headers, high-rise carb spacer, and K&N air filter
RWHP 312
Suspension Hotchkis Total Vehicle System with new tubular A-arms, front and rear coil springs, front and rear sway bars, and Bilstein shocks
Brakes Stock discs up front and drums out back
Wheels/Tires 18x10-inch Raceline Speedster on 275/35R18 Kumho Ecsta XS and 18x11-inch Raceline Speedster wheels on 315/30R18 Kumho Ecsta XS tires
Weight 3,850 pounds
Pros 383ci stroker loves to rev, unbelievable grip, lack of body roll
Cons Carburetor was finicky, just begging for a lighter LS engine

0-60 MPH (Worth 5 Points) - 6.7
1/4-Mile (Worth 5 Points) - 14.35
Speed Through 100-ft Slalom (Worth 5 Points) - 61.03
60-0 MPH Braking (Worth 5 Points) - 107 Feet
Autocross Time (Worth 5 Points) - 37.23
Styling (Subjective Score Worth 5 Points) - 1

Total Points Earned (Out Of 30) - 17

Silver Bullet
The unofficial ringer in the group was Rob MacGregor and his No Limit-built '55 F-100. Created to cause chaos on the autocross course, Rob's F-100 is supported by No Limit's latest F-100 chassis, the Big 10. Using a front independent suspension and rear trailing arm setup with coilovers, Rob's specific chassis can be dialed in with caster/camber and toe changes at the track. Thanks to a 392ci crate engine from Ford Racing and the lack of a hood, floorboard, bed floor, running boards, or side glass, Rob's F-100 came in second to 60 mph and third through the 1/4-mile. Giving himself an advantage at the autocross, Rob made several practice laps and wrenched on the suspension while others were doing burnouts and donuts. This practice helped him really push the F-100 hard during the autocross test and he set the standard with a 36.33, nearly a full second faster than anyone else. Without a hood, side glass, and full floorboards, however, we couldn't give him the full five points in the styling category.

At A Glance
1955 Ford F-100

Engine 392ci Ford Racing small-block with No Limit headers, Performance Products fuel injection, and K&N air filter
RWHP 268
Suspension: No Limit Big 10 Chassis with IFS, rear trailing arms, coilovers
Brakes Stock disc upgrade up front and disc conversion out back
Wheels/Tires 18x9-inch Intro Hauler on 265/35R18 BF Goodrich T/A KDW and 18x12-inch Intro Hauler wheels on 335/30R18 BFGoodrich T/A KDW tires
Weight 2,980 pounds
Pros Adjustable coilovers and A-arms, light weight, manual trans
Cons No floorboards made for a hot cabin, exposed engine bay

0-60 MPH (Worth 5 Points) - 6.4
1/4-Mile (Worth 5 Points) - 14.48
Speed Through 100-ft Slalom (Worth 5 Points) - 61.5
60-0 MPH Braking (Worth 5 Points) - 161 Feet
Autocross Time (Worth 5 Points) - 36.33
Styling (Subjective Score Worth 5 Points) - 2

Total Points Earned (Out Of 30) - 18

Triple Threat
Whatever your preconceived notions of a feature truck being pampered and not being driven hard were, Rob Phillips' '69 C10 will blow them away. His truck, built at his shop Phillips & Co. Hot Rods in Long Beach, California, is truly a triple threat. With good looks inside and out, a big-block that screams, and a suspension designed to embarrass muscle cars, his Chevy truck was on a mission the moment he drove it onto our test course. Thanks to the 468ci big-block, Rob set the mark for 0-60 mph and the 1/4-mile by blazing to 60 in 6.0 seconds and the 1/4 in 14.02 seconds. Admittedly, he had never driven his truck through a slalom and his hesitation cost him, but he did make up for it with a second place finish in the autocross. Thanks to the big Baer brakes and Kumho tires, his truck stopped better than the other classic trucks and when it came time for the subjective styling test, his truck was the unanimous winner. What we liked the most was his passion for pushing the limits and his willingness to put up or shut up. Proving that show and go do mix, Rob took home the crown of our first-ever Throwdown.

At A Glance
1969 Chevy C10

Engine 468ci big-block with fuel injection, Edelbrock aluminum heads, headers, K&N air filter
RWHP 417
Suspension 2 1/2-inch drop spindle and 2 1/2-inch drop coil with QA1 shocks and 6-inch drop coil in the rear with QA1 shocks, Hotchkis front and rear sway bars
Brakes 14-inch Baer rotors and six-piston calipers and 13-inch rear rotors with four-piston calipers
Wheels/Tires 19x8-inch MHT Mark X on 285/35R19 Kumho Ecsta XS and 19x12-inch MHT Mark X wheels on 345/30R19 Kumho Ecsta XS tires
Weight 4,185 pounds
Pros Big-block pulls like a freight train, brakes inspire confidence, stunning looks with performance to match
Cons Automatic tranny, big-block is heavy, we don't own it

0-60 MPH (Worth 5 Points) - 6.0
1/4-Mile (Worth 5 Points) - 14.02
Speed Through 100-ft Slalom (Worth 5 Points) - 54.7
60-0 MPH Braking (Worth 5 Points) - 90 Feet
Autocross Time (Worth 5 Points) - 37.01
Styling (Subjective Score Worth 5 Points) - 5

Total Points Earned (Out Of 30) - 23

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