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Mini Truck Trends - Trends of Today and Tomorrow

Do Trends Ever Really Change In Minitrucks?

Ernie Macias
Jan 1, 2008
Minitrucks have come a long way in the past 20 years. Some say we've run out of ideas and have started recycling them. Like hot rods and lowriders, how much more could we possibly change? If you look at traditional hot rods of today, they are very similar to the trend-starting customs of the '50s. Lowriders have always been into clean looks, with tons of chrome and sometimes outrageous paint. But, if you were at a show 10 years ago, or today, not much has changed for them. Minitrucks seem to be on the same kind of cycle. Of course, trucks don't look like they did in '89; but the basic ideas are still there.
We've gone through crazy mods, then to basic trucks, and came back to crazy mods. If you go to a show these days, you'll see that we're revisiting basic-truck styles again. When minitrucks first started, trucks were basic. They were lowered, practical, and clean. But, soon people started chopping them, slamming them even lower, and getting crazy with them. Then, in the early '90s trucks returned to clean and simple styles again. The wildest things we saw were in the paint schemes. Soon after that, trucks started getting crazy again. Front-end swaps and taillight conversions were a must. Body-drops were gaining in popularity and really changed the face of minitruckin'. If you weren't laying doors and rocking some kind of crazy front end, then you just weren't cutting it.
But lately, the stock craze is gaining popularity again. It's more common at shows to see trucks that are simple, with stock handles, stock taillights, and even stock bumpers. People who were building sick and crazy frames were outdone by the guy with a simple four-link, laying rockers, and on 22s. What's next? Who knows? But, based on the idea that history repeats itself, we'll probably roll basic trucks for a few years, until somebody comes out with a crazy modded truck and blows our doors away.
Paint Mods

Single Color
Single-color trucks either get a ton of attention or none at all. In the last few years, a huge number of single-color trucks have graced the front cover of Mini Truckin' magazine.
Photo 2/25   |   mini Truck Trends custom Datsun
This Datsun, which is a past MT cover-truck, shows true class and elegance with a deep-blue single color.
Multi Color
The best way to get attention at a show, or on the streets, is going to be a crazy paintjob. These paintjobs take a lot of time and creativity, but when done correctly can really pop in the eyes of the beholder. Multi-color paintjobs have been minitrucker favorites since the '70s.
Photo 3/25   |   mini Truck Trends multicolored S10
Crazy graphics can really show off the handy work of a real artist on a ride, such as this S-10.
A recent paint type with minitruckers is the hot-rod inspired suede paintjobs. With ready-to-shoot paints available these days, it's becoming more and more popular. Some people have argued that the suede and hot-rod look will die soon with minitruckers, but with more and more minitruckers parking laid-out 'Cads or Lincolns in their garages next to their minis, it's highly unlikely.
Photo 4/25   |   mini Truck Trends custom Suede Tacoma
Suede paint, old-skool graphics, and tuner wheels are some of the combinations on this truck. Also, notice that it still sports a rear bumper and handles. However, the truck is only slightly modded with a shaved gas door, antenna, and hood squirters.
Photo 5/25   |   mini Truck Trends custom Chopped Top Chevy
Body Mods

Heavy Mods
Tons of mods mean tons of bodywork and money. Many minitruckers believe that the crazy mod and frame phase of the previous few years has hurt the minitruck lifestyle. It's hard to keep up with the trend, when a person flips burgers or does oil changes for a living, like most young minitruckers. But, if someone can't afford to do it, then they'll eventually find another hobby. To the do-it-yourself guy or gal, or the person with a few extra dollars to spend, heavy mods mean originality and standing out in the crowd.
Photo 6/25   |   mini Truck Trends body Dropped Three Axles Isuzu
Check out this assortment of heavily-modded trucks. As you can see, the first Chevy mixes it up really nice by using the old-skool approach, small wheels, a crazy chopped top, and suede paint. The Isuzu is not only body-dropped, it's sporting three axles. Now that's old new-skool for sure.
Photo 7/25   |   mini Truck Trends old Skool Pebble Pusher
Simple Mods
Sometimes you want your Chevy to still look like a Chevy, just as the dealer intended. So maybe an Escalade conversion isn't in the plans for you. Simple mods, such as a handle shave job or a roll pan, have never been out of style. Simple mods mean easy bodywork and sometimes it's an easy blend paintjob.

This old-skool Pebble Pushers' ride is clean and simple, yet it has just enough mods to be considered truly custom.
The stock look doesn't mean you roll your truck off the lot and put a club logo on it. The new trend in the United States has already been the trend in places like Japan, where you take a mini, 'bag it, put some wheels on it, and then call it a day. With more money to spend on suspension, minitruckers can concentrate on body-drops, wheels, and looking clean. This is by far one of the most popular trends these days. At most shows in the country, you can roll in and see a handful of trucks rocking rear bumpers, stock taillights, and even the handles.
Of course, these three trucks on the right are not stock. But as you can see, most could pass for factory trucks if they were aired up.
Photo 11/25   |   mini Truck Trends swapped V8 Engine
Rare Mods

Engine Swaps
A huge trend overseas is the engine swap. Minitruckers in the states have been swapping V-8s into their minitrucks for a long time, but it's not legal everywhere. With strict emissions laws in places such as California, swapping a V-8 or rotary into a truck isn't always a solution to figuring out that pesky wiring in your four bangers.
Photo 12/25   |   mini Truck Trends v8 Engine Modification
It can be a V-8 or a fuel-injected import motor. No matter which, you're always going to get props for this mod.
Tilt Beds
When most people think of tilt beds, they think of the days of the bullet-side Datsun cruising the West Coast with some Orion subs in the back. This mod, however, has never died and we don't see it going away anytime soon.
Call it old-skool, but a tilt bed is a mod that will never die.
Photo 15/25   |   mini Truck Trends custom Big Back Window
Big Back Window
There has only been a handful of trucks with this crazy mod. It baffles us that it hasn't been more popular.
This Toyota has been rocking this bigger back window for some time. It's a subtle mod, so it's very easy to miss.
Hot rodders have been chopping their rods for years, as have minitruckers. This is one of the more complicated mods and it has never died. Lately, it's been more and more popular at the biggest shows around the country.
Chop tops are definitely hot-rod inspired. Why we started cutting convertibles tops, who knows? But both are reserved for the hardcore.
Front-End Swaps
There was a time when a headlight swap was enough. Some guys take it even further, especially in the Chevy community. These days, it isn't rare to see an Escalade conversion, or even a fullsize Chevy front end on a Dime.
Why do we see this a lot in the S-10 scene? We don't know, but it seems to be a really popular mod with the guys in Dimes. The S-10 with the fullsize Chevy front end is definitely unique and has only been done a few times.
Photo 20/25   |   mini Truck Trends big Wheel

Big wheels
It used to be that if you were rocking 18s, you were the man at a show. However, these days when you roll in on your 18s, there's a chance you'll be parked next to a guy on 22s on a ride just like yours. Big wheels aren't for everybody, and those who accomplish it have a lot to be proud of. After all, stuffing that much chrome under a small fender is no walk in the park. Countless hours of heavy suspension modifications are usually involved in this segment.
Nothing says big pimping like big wheels on a little truck. This has always been a definite show-stopping trick for any mini, as you can see on this Ford Ranger.
Small Wheels
These days, small wheels are usually classified as anything under an 18-inch rim. Some guys want to keep their old Boyd's, because they're timeless. Others like 15-inch Smoothies on white walls.
From static-dropped to body-dropped, anything can pull off small wheels if it's done properly.
A shell is something we don't see too much anymore. In the days of West Coast truck runs, they were the perfect place to sleep.

Taillight conversions have become slightly less popular during the last few years, as more and more feature trucks are sporting factory lights. However, when it's done properly, like on this Dodge, they can really look cool.

Mini monster trucks used to be as common as fat guys in little trucks. These days, you're truly lucky to see one or two at a show and they are usually as clean as these two.



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