How in the world can we pick out just 10 trucks from the cadre of insane machines Truckin' has featured in the past year? It was tough, but we locked the entire staff into a boardroom and didn't let anyone out until the results were in. Feelings were hurt, egos were bruised, tempers were short...and that was just from deciding where to have lunch. In the end, we're all happy with the crop of trucks we've assembled. Any one of them is a shining example of just how far this hobby can be taken. We have put them in no particular order on purpose. And since we couldn't force ourselves to make any more cuts, we ended up with two honorable mentions. Deal with it. Do you agree with our choices or do you think we're crazy? Go to truckinweb.com and vote for your top 10 trucks of '06. And check out the results in a later issue!
Matt Spence's '04 Cadillac Escalade
Texas - Issue #4
Matt is no stranger to Truckin', with several features and covers in the past. However, with the completion of his Escalade he really outdid himself. Standing out by being the lowest in a crowd, Matt's Escalade features modifications no other Cadillac has. For example, the full custom Ekstensive frame and air-ride system allow the Escalade to ride low over the 26-inch Jesse James wheels. Body mods are incredible and around every nook and cranny. A supercharged and detailed 6.0L provides tire-shredding power, and the slick two-tone paint makes onlookers do a double take. Inside, alligator hides and leather abound, along with an amazing JL Audio system that pounds the ears of all four occupants. An icon in Texas, the Escalade is another reason why everything is bigger in the Lone Star state.
Ricky Holly's '99 Chevy Silverado
Texas - Issue #2
Think it takes a lot of effort to build a killer show truck? Ricky took an already completed show-winner and tore it all up and started over. That's hard. But the results were well worth it, and now the highly stylized truck is a step above the usual "Best of Show" winners. Every panel in the interior was painted two-tone to match the exterior. A floating center console was built by Dante at Billet Customs, and all the seating was wrapped with tan leather, suede, and ostrich material by Concept Racing. Bentley carpet adds to the sophistication. A host of audio and visual aids complement the interior, as the truck sports a 12-inch JL Audio sub and a 7-inch monitor. The third door has a 15.4-inch monitor, while all the doors have Clif Designs separates. An Alpine deck plays CDs and DVDs. All of this is inside the Chevy that now sports a 2003 front clip and 22-inch Boyd Coddington wheels covered in Nitto rubber. The slammed stance is thanks to an Ekstensive air setup.
Allan Hoffman's '99 Gmc - Oklahoma
When a truck owner dreams at night about a project, the possibilities are endless. Then reality strikes in the morning and the builder is faced with endless restrictions, obstacles, and headaches. Allan ignored the morning doubts and built a truck that simply can't be compared to anything else. The body was completely smoothed of all extraneous parts, and then the paint and graphics took advantage of that fact. Blending the graphics up the hood, over the cowl, and onto the dash is just one example of the lengths that Allan went to in order to separate this truck from the crop. Credit must go to Todd's Custom and Collision for the extensive body mods and base paint. The graphics were the responsibility of Charles Armstrong in Prescott, Arizona. (And you thought the commute to your paint shop was a tough run!) The truck was body-dropped 3-1/2 inches, and Elite Street Rods' four-link rear suspension and Belltech drop spindles team up with Chassis Tech airbags to get the ride just right. Twenty and twenty-two-inch Bonspeed wheels are wrapped with Nitto tires.
Gary Coe's '57 Ford F-100 - Oregon - Issue #9 Most guys have a very close, personal relationship with trucks. Maybe Grandpa used to have one out on the ranch, or Dad taught you how to drive a stick in one. Gary remembers riding on the bench seat of his dad's brand new '57 Ford pickup and wanted to recreate that feeling. Only he didn't want the original item; he wanted it to be super-special. Gary turned to Steve's Auto Restorations and let them go wild. A Heidt's Superride II frontend with Heidt's 2-inch dropped spindles and Aldan coilover shocks handle the suspension duties up front, while a four-link rear suspension controls the movement of the Dutchman Ford 9-inch rearend. Under the hood is an impeccably detailed 4.6L DOHC engine out of a '96 Mustang Cobra. The addition of a Kenne Bell twin-screw supercharger and JBA tube headers (with Flowmaster Hush Power II mufflers) boosts the performance just that much more. A tremendous amount of effort went into the bodywork, as the top was chopped, the hood was extended/sectioned/pancaked, and more. Even the doors received enormous attention. It's hard to understand all that was done to this truck, so Gary brings a ratty old '57 with him to the shows as a visual guie.
Aaron Iha's '04 Nissan Titan California - Issue #8 Not everyone starts with a rendering of their dream truck and then forges a path straight ahead to the goal without deviation. No, some guys (like Aaron Iha) end up redoing the paint three times, the suspension three times, and the interior three times. It's not as much indecision as it is inspiration...and perfection. Aaron is handy with tools and machinery and really went after this truck. A custom-fabbed frame is held aloft with Universal Air airbags and Air Zenith compressors. The stock spindles were shortened (don't try this yourself!) and the ball joints flipped to get the ride down into the weeds. Asanti 26-inch wheels use Falken 305/30R26 tires for a wicked appearance. The paint scheme is wild and completely opposite on each side. People who take a lap around the truck always seem to scratch their head. Even the interior is a reflection of the dual personality. Just don't tell Aaron that he couldn't make up his mind.
Jenn Lacy's '91 Chevy S-10 Florida - Issue #10 Some people get all worked up when a girl builds a stellar truck. Heck, we don't care what your genetic workup is; we just like awesome trucks. This one is more than awesome. Jenn fell into the custom truck hobby hard after lowering her daily driver and adding some custom wheels and tires. After that, it was on to a body drop, suicide doors, a one-off interior, and wicked paint. There was no turning back. Scrape-n-Customs went nuts on the body of the truck, filling seams, adding body lines, shaving handles, and more. They even molded the fenders into the cab and rockers and rounded the corners of the doors. Voulsia County Customs is responsible for the insane paint job. The truck is on 'bags, of course, but the attention to detail continued with nickel-plated GC valves and polished stainless steel air lines. You see, it doesn't matter which bathroom you frequent; it's the end result that counts.
Ivan Leatherman's '48 Chevy California - Issue #7 With hour after hour on the road driving a long-haul big rig, you've got lots of time to dream about custom trucks. Ivan did just that and after retiring, set out to build something remarkable. The results speak for themselves. With 2x3-inch rectangular tubing serving as the frame, an Air Ride Technologies four-link pneumatic system allows the Currie rearend housing and massive Mickey Thompson tires to tuck up under the fenders. A TCI IFS front suspension also combines with Air Ride 'bags to lay the running boards on the ground. Power is provided by a 454ci on steroids. A BDS 16:71 blower throws 17 psi of boost into the combustion chambers. The interior is super-sweet thanks to Ron Mangus and a set of Toyota Supra bucket seats. Red leather was the material of choice and it covers just about every square inch. Tuck 'n' roll panels complete the blending of classic and custom.
Jeremy Fuhlman's '03 Ford Super Duty
Texas - Issue #12 What's that saying? "The only difference between men and boys is the size and price of their toys." Jeremy is a prime exam-ple of this. His big Ford has a completely boxed and smoothed frame thanks to Killer Ridez, and square-tube crossmembers replace the factory pieces. A parallel four-link holds the front end in place, while a triangulated four-link does like duty for the rear. Firestone airbags get the truck up in the air, and a Dakota Digital ride control unit controls 18 inches of movement. All the suspension clearance made it possible to use 49-inch tires. Inside the cab, Jeremy was no less bold. Red is everywhere. Every plastic piece was sanded smooth and then painted Viper Red. Scores of trick items fill up the truck's interior. We're talking mounds of audio and video equipment, the majority from Kicker. The truck has eight Optima batteries and two 200-amp alternators to run it all.
Bill Carlton's '04 Hummer H2
Texas - Issue #13
Bill went a whole lot further with this Hummer's second build, and the list of body mods is a mile long. Bill's shop, Ekstensive Metalworks, in Houston, Texas, has established itself as one of the hottest in the country, and this H2 no doubt cemented the public's opinion of the place. Bill built a complete custom chassis using mandrel-bent framerails, incorporating an air-ride setup that has his truck way down low. Then he added 26-inch Gianelle and Giovanna wheels and the gauntlet was thrown down. A supercharged 6.0L makes viewing the numerous monitors difficult, but the ostrich leather makes the ride a comfortable one. By the time the shop was done, the truck was clearly the most custom H2 in the land.
Seth Wagner's '41 Willys
Illinois - Issue #13 No stranger to building incredible custom vehicles, Seth's plan for this Willys was a combination of futuristic and historic cues. Hooking up with famed builder Steve Legens of Legens Hot Rods in Martin, Tennessee, the pair built something very special that made its debut at the '06 Detroit Auto Show, where it made a run for the Don Ridler Memorial award. Every inch of this truck is custom and handbuilt. Kugel stainless steel dropped spindles are attached to chrome A-arms and also serve as a mounting point for the Wilwood brakes. A Winters quick-change rearend and Kugel independent rear suspension are the highlights at the back of the truck. An '05 DaimlerChrysler 5.7L modular Hemi engine is squeezed under the hood and puts out more than 600 hp.
Honorable Mention: Michael Mckeska's '99 Chevy Dualie
Ohio - Issue #1 Building multiple custom vehicles has a way of upping the ante. Michael's building talents really came to the forefront with this slammed mass of sheetmetal. He scrapped the frame from the firewall back and fabricated a fully boxed frame, then Z'd the front. The rig lays out flat, but becomes drivable thanks to Slam Specialties ES-82 airbags. These semi-truck 'bags are supported by a monster bridge. The body was dropped 4 inches, so now not only does the frame slam into the ground, but the rocker panels do too. The flawless House of Kolor Pewter body color is distinctive and the black flames are menacing. Under the paint, a host of body mods attract attention, including shaved door handles, tailgate handle, fuel door, taillights, and radio antenna. The interior is unique, with football-style stitching on the bright red leather. Trent's Trick Upholstery used street-rod bucket seats and lots of other tricks to jazz up the inside. Crazy details include pinstriping on the steering wheel. The only thing keeping Mike's one-ton out of the top 10 was the absence of a front valance.
Honorable Mention: Dennis Graham's '67 Ford Bronco
Georgia - Issue #5 There's something about 1,000 hp in a two-door, lowered Bronco that just screams "insane." With 33 inches of Mickey Thompson slicks out back and lots of tire smoke, you can't help but look. To get the truck low enough (and handle the power) Dennis started with a full Art Morrison chassis and then added goodies as he went along. Up front is a Mustang II style suspension with rack-and-pinion steering and massive Baer brakes. In the rear, a Ford 9-inch rearend is attached to a four-link suspension system. With all this ballsy racecar-like focus it might seem unusual to see a fully customized interior, but that's exactly what's going on with this truck. M&M Interior wrapped the custom dash and new door panels in tan leather and alligator skin. As nice as it is, a large portion of guys can't look any further than the blown 502ci engine. (That's understandable.) Maybe next time Dennis will put a Ford in a Ford and make the top 10.