Icon 1953 Chevrolet 3100 Thriftmaster

We actually got a chance to drive the Icon Thriftmaster before its display at SEMA, and the workmanship and attention to detail are impeccable, as we've come to expect from Icon's products. Just because we got a sneak peek and drive before the show doesn't mean we like it any less. The "Thriftmaster" was originally sold in the 1950s with an economy-oriented inline-six. This one is definitely more slanted toward power with a supercharged 5.3-liter GM Vortec V-8 engine, producing an estimated 435 hp and 458 lb-ft of torque. Ironically, the modern, electronically managed V-8 probably gets better fuel economy than the old straight-six, if driven with restraint. The copious horsepower and torque output might tempt you to do smoky burnouts from each stop, but considering the Thriftmaster's Ferrari-like $220,000-plus price tag, you might want to keep a leash on your right foot.


Pro Comp 2012 Toyota Hilux

We make no secret or apologies for our fondness of global-market midsize trucks, as our constant pleading for Ford to bring over the T6 Ranger and Volkswagen to begin selling the Amarok in the U.S. will attest. Another model we'd like to see stateside is the Toyota Hilux. Although fundamentally similar to the U.S.-market Tacoma, the Hilux is available in global markets with a 3.0-liter I-4 turbodiesel. We have no complaints about the Tacoma's power with the 4.0-liter V-6, but its fuel economy of 16 city and 21 highway leaves something to be desired. The turbodiesel nearly matches the V-6 for torque, but with vastly improved fuel economy. Besides what's under the hood, other goodies on Pro Comp's Hilux include a 6-inch lift, Smittybilt front and rear XRC bumpers, HID off-road lights, and Pro Comp 35-inch tires.


WyoTech 1964 Ford F-100 Roadster

Like the four-door Bronco, this jewel is another one we would've missed had we written off the North Hall, which is usually the domain of tool makers and service providers. WyoTech is one of the best-known vocational trade schools for the automotive industry, and the handiwork of this truck is testament to the students' and staff's skill and craftsmanship. Built at WyoTech's Blairsville, Pennsylvania, campus, the truck features a rebuilt Ford 390 FE V-8 utilizing parts from Crane Cams, Edelbrock, Canton Racing Products, and ARP exhaling through a Magnaflow exhaust. The chassis was upgraded with parts from Heidt's Hot Rod Shop rolling on Mickey Thompson tires. LMC Truck was a major contributor to the body and trim pieces. Other modifications include a 1956 Ford grille, Ididit steering column, custom-upholstered interior featuring Katzkin leather, Jamey Jordan Handmade door panels, a chopped windshield, smoothed body. WyoTech students also custom-fabricated an aluminum fuel tank for the truck. Part of the build was featured on the TV show "Trucks!" where students from the Laramie and Blairsville campuses worked on the engine and suspension. The total list of modifications and contributors is too long to enumerate here, but you can visit Wyotech's Facebook page for more details on this build.


Teraflex Right-Hand-Drive Jeep Wrangler JK Unlimited

At first glance, this looked like yet another Wrangler with a custom paint job. But what turned our heads was this Wrangler's right-hand-drive steering wheel. Right-hand-drive Wranglers are not totally unknown, being offered for more than a decade from the factory for rural mail carriers and export markets. But rarely do you see one modified, even at custom-crazy SEMA. To add to the down-under legitimacy, the Teraflex Wrangler features a surfboard in the back, as well as a woody-themed paint job. The vehicle was a showcase for some of the company's right-hand-drive-specific components, most notably its Monster front track bar specifically for right-hand-drive models.


Mobsteel FedEx Delivery Van

There was no way we couldn't include MobSteel's awesome custom FedEx delivery van in our Top 25 list. It doesn't look like your normal FedEx truck, because it's not. The front end is off a 1981 Freightliner cabover truck, and power comes from a heavily modified Cummins B-series diesel making in the neighborhood of 500 hp and probably 1000-plus lb-ft of torque. The interior, although basic and functional, is well done, with a quilted vinyl "doghouse" cover, and a wood panel floor. Also part of the permanent payload is an onboard air compressor to pressurize the AccuAir suspension, allowing the truck to lay low when it's not running down the quarter mile, which it does as an exhibition vehicle for FedEx.


Yukon Gear 1950 Willys Pickup

Yukon Gear, best-known among off-road enthusiasts for its beefy drivetrain components for Jeeps and 4x4s, this year featured a built 1950 Willys pickup in its booth. Although we wouldn't go quite as far as calling it a sleeper, with its blower stack sticking out of the hood and the tubbed and channeled rear frame and axle, we've seen far more visually outlandish and provocative vehicles that probably can't deliver on their promise of performance. Still, with this small body, skinny front and steamroller rear tires, along with the blown small-block, we'd safely wager this would be one heck of a fun ride.


Austin Hatcher Foundation 1971 Chevrolet C10

Like the Snakebit F-100, this 1971 Chevy C10 was built to benefit children with special health and care needs. The truck was built by Chimera Customs, and donated to the Austin Hatcher Foundation for Pediatric Cancer by Jim and Amy Jo Osborn. The C10 has an LS3 E-Rod crate motor and 4L65-E automatic transmission, a Ridetech air ride suspension, Baer brakes, and features a custom dash and gauge cluster with Autometer gauges and Goodmark replacement fenders and sheetmetal. The truck is scheduled to go on the block at Barrett-Jackson's Scottsdale auction in 2014. We're guessing the winning bid for this truck will go well into the six figures, not only because it's for a good cause, but because it's a legitimately clean and desirable restomod build.


Napa Auto Parts 1940 Ford Pickup

Another reason we're glad we ventured into North Hall: Napa Auto parts showcased this stunning 1940 Ford built by Chaotic Customs in Mulvane, Kansas. Almost no part of this truck was left untouched in its transformation from a straight but bare barn find to an immaculate custom, starting with a vertically and horizontally chopped and stretched cab mounted on a TCI Engineering chassis. The blue Martin Senour/Napa paint is gives the truck a rich, glossy luster. Typical for a custom build, but heresy to the Ford faithful, it's powered by a GM LS1 motor. Among our favorite touches are the custom dash with center-mounted V-shaped gauge cluster and quad "bullet" taillights on pontoon rear fenders. Those brown low-back bucket seats look mighty comfortable for some cruise-ins.


Bay One Customs 1958 Chevrolet Cameo

This stunner was featured in the Heat Shield Products booth and caught our eye immediately, but drew us in even more the closer we looked at its details. In addition to its candy red paint job that looks about a foot thick, the truck features exotic South African Bubinga wood that lines the bed, headliner, and door panels. Powering this beauty is a 383 stroker small-block V-8 with a Turbo 350 transmission and 3.55 rear axle. The build of this truck is documented in a series of YouTube videos on Bay One Custom's web site.