Custom Classic Trucks - Classic Truckin' Trends

The Young Guns

Bob RyderJan 1, 2006
Photo 2/2
While attending elementary school, I was self-diagnosed with a life long sickness: gearheaditis. Early symptoms developed when I began building plastic model cars, started reading Hot Rod, Rod & Custom and occasionally checking out my dad's Playboys. The illness became more aggressive when I entered junior high while living in Modesto, California, during the early '60s. Ironically, this was around the time period of the movie American Graffiti. Portions of the movie were actually filmed in Modesto. Cool customs and hot rods were seen prowling the boulevards everywhere. My buddy's older brother Gary attended Downey High School. He was the B.M.O.C. (Big Man on Campus): captain of the football team, student body president, and he drove a '57 Chevy lowered with cut springs, chrome reverse wheels, black tuck 'n' roll interior, a cranking AM radio with its reverb echoing through 6-inch single-magnet speakers in the doors and rear window deck. The station was always set on a local Lodi AM station, featuring those latenight howls of Wolf Man Jack. When he wasn't wearing his varsity jacket, he was shuffling in his car club jacket, "Throttlers," established in 1949. I remember Gary cruising McHenery Avenue sitting low in the seat with his left hand limp-wristing over the big 18-inch steering wheel; his other arm wrapped around some cheerleader. He also hung out at a custom shop in town. And knowing I was into cool custom cars, he took me down to the shop and introduced me to the builder. It was Gene Winfield. Of course, at 11 years old, I thought he was just another guy who cut up custom cars. Not until some years later did I know who he was. From then until know, I have consumed myself deeply in the custom addiction, passing the illness on to my two sons.
The flashback of my youth came while attending shows this past season; I noticed young blood being transfused into the classic custom truck scene. It is refreshing to witness this youth movement following the maturing generation's fading footsteps. During the shows, I have spoken with many of these Young Guns, finding out what has attracted them to the early model custom truck scene. Two words: cost and identity.
The initial cost of a late-model pickup or SUV is approximately $25,000- $50,000.00. Once you drive your new purchase off the dealer's lot, thousands of dollars in value have been lost, and with every mile, the value keeps depreciating.
Late-model trucks and SUVs have become less distinctive with their cookie-cutter, smooth shapes. Today's modern aerospace technology has transformed these late-model customs into sensitive, rolling computerized platforms. To achieve lighter vehicles, the interiors are plastic and the exteriors are skinned with tinfoil-gage sheetmetal. Late-model engines all feature computerized electronic ignition, fuel delivery, throttle, and transmission; and to increase fuel mileage, some systems take timing out of the ignition, while others will shutdown cylinders during cruise mode. The engine is constantly being monitored by a multitude of sensors, which are sometimes too sensitive, resulting in check engine warnings. Making driving safer and more efficient, the late-model handling and braking are also controlled by computers and sensors TC (traction control) and ABS (antilock brake system). But despite all these benefits, the average guy can't even diagnose a simple engine problem without the expensive OEM diagnostic downloader.
Compare that to the initial purchase price of a weathered early model discovered out in the middle of a field or burried under a canvas inside an ol' widow's garage and there is no comparison. You can finish an early model to show quality for about the same initial cost of a late-model truck or SUV. The unlimited amount of early model aftermarket products available today allows the builder to create a show-winning ride for minimal cost.
With high purchase prices, high fuel prices, the high cost of replacement parts, and not to mention, the insurance costs of a new late-model, early model custom projects look pretty attractive. For the base price of a late-model, you can have a nice, finished early model show truck.
It's a good feeling knowing that the early model custom trucks will be passed on to younger generations to enjoy. Re-jetting a 750 cfm carburetor is a hell of a lot easier and cheaper than trying to figure out what's wrong with a late-model's fuel delivery system.Remember, OL' Guys Rule!
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