Back in 1988, when Chevrolet introduced the popular '88-'98 C1500 pickup, it was next to impossible to travel even a few miles without seeing a standard or extended cab version slammed with a Belltech lowering kit and rolling on then-huge 15- and 16-inch Boyds. The typical body enhancements consisted of a billet grille, a billet Bow Tie, sport mirrors, a shaved tailgate handle, and a fiberglass roll pan. Most of these trucks' interiors were filled with billet aluminum and many had hidden hitches behind the roll pans so owners could tow their boats to the river on the weekends.
Truckin' featured a majority of these trucks, and during the late-'80s and early to mid-'90s, the magazines and showgrounds were flooded with this popular customizing recipe, whether it was on a Chevy, a Dodge, or a Ford, although the Chevy C1500 was the cat's meow.Since those old days of 4/6 and 5/7 drops, and moderately sized billet wheels, enthusiasts have taken customizing possibilities to new extremes. A set of 20-inch wheels are now considered small, and if your show ride isn't body-dropped, then you better go back home and start cutting. Paint treatments have gotten crazy, and enthusiasts have gone from tweed-laden cabins to smoothed and painted interiors, with fabric only on the seating surfaces. As the Feature Editor of Truckin', I welcome these radical body-dragging rides stuffing big wheels with a smile, since they make my job easier by keeping my feature file cabinet full. But lately, I can't help but notice that some of the old trends are starting to slowly re-emerge with regard to suspension and paint simplicity. In addition, the lifted look has taken the custom truck world by storm, since lifted show haulers are increasingly emerging on the show scene to compete for the gold.
As wheel and tire sizes have continually increased, it has become harder and harder for enthusiasts to lay their rides out on the latest and greatest large-diameter combos. Over-the-top lifted trucks seem to be all the rage these days, running 20-inch rims and the popular new 20-inch off-road tires. The day-to-day freeway flyers usually feature the requisite 6- or 7-inch suspension lift and 33- to 35-inch tires, with Kodiak steps to aid with exit and entry, but the true show haulers have been spotted rolling around on 50-inch tires with nearly 30 inches of suspension lift. How crazy can the scene get before the elements of driver safety come into play?
In regard to the slammed custom truck realm for the turnkey daily driver, we are starting to see many enthusiasts going back to the reliable old bolt-on lowering kit, with 20-inch billets on low-profile skins filling the fenderwells. Don't get me wrong, we love the in-the-weeds stance that airbags provide, but after a few of us have owned air-assisted rides and spent time on the roadside with a shredded line or wasted valve, our current daily drivers feature either bolt-on lowering or lift kits. For the all-out show truck that spends Monday to Friday in the garage, air suspension is the only way to go.Looking at the trucks on the road today, we are definitely seeing a strong presence of lifted trucks and a collection of lowered haulers sporting some slightly refined old-school trends. Only time will tell what will be the next shift in the custom truck aftermarket. Until next month, keep hitting those switches, cranking good tunes (such as Faster Pussycat and Dire Straits), and cruising until your heart's content.