More high-end early-model customized trucks are rolling into shows all across the country. These ultimate customs have been known to bring hundreds of thousands of dollars as they roll across the auction block at Barrett Jackson's. Although, what essentially motivates these guys to build such one-of-a-kind mega-buck masterpieces? Could it be ego? Or is it a battle of "my toy's better than your toy?" Could it be the obsession of having the coolest ride in the neighborhood-regardless of the cost?

Personally, I don't know the motivating factor, but I have seen and photographed some of the most incredible vintage trucks, and it is amazing to watch the elite custom builders while they take an artist's rendering and duplicate it into a real-world metal-sculpted masterpiece.

Over the past couple of years, we have seen the quality of the early-model custom-truck scene elevated to the next level. Surprisingly, many of the ugly ducklings of the past have become the coolest customs in Truckin'. They have been treated with subtle body mods like shaving, smoothing, chopping, sectioning, and radiusing. These trucks have been seen rolling on oversized wheel and tire combos that tightly tuck inside of the wheel wells. The interiors have been designed and fabricated with complete dash transplants and make overs, as well. The seats have had reductions, while center consoles have undergone enhancement treatments. Audio sound, DVD, and navigation systems have become more popular in the revamped interior dcor. The power plants have become more cutting edge, with OEM crate engines available from Chevrolet, like the LS2, LS7, and 572ci big-block, as well as Dodge's Viper V-10, Chrysler's Hemi 5.7L, and Ford's Roush engines. Aftermarket crate-engine builders have also come on the scene to add to these high-end desired modifications.

2006 was an exceptional year for sensational custom-classic trucks. I remember Gary Coe's '57 Ford, Seth Wagner's '41 Willys, Ivan Leatherman's '48 Chevy Pro Street, and Dan Dowdy's '37 Hudson Terraplane, to name a few that stood out to me. The bar of high-end truck excellence has been raised. But, we must remember, it's the casual cruisers and daily drivers at the shows that are the foundation of our great hobby. My feeling on the subject is, if ya love 'em, ya gotta drive 'em.

During the winter months, many builders have been scrambling to finish their new custom creations. It will be interesting to see what the new '07 show season brings to us.