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20 Years Of Sport Truck History - Truck Of The Year

10 Logos Later, We Look Back Fondly At Sport Truck's History

The Sport Truck Staff
Nov 1, 2008
Photographers: The Sport Truck Staff
Photo 2/25   |   custom Trucks 1988 Chevy C1500
20 Years Of Bad Fashion and Awesome Trucks
How does one recap 20 years of magazine history inside of a single issue of Sport Truck? How do you convey the sense of pride, enthusiasm, and at times, embarrassment that comes from building an empire without rules to follow in such a small amount of space and time? Well, we decided to simply take a look back and pick our favorite trucks, models, parts, and events that shaped the industry. We've dug up the dirt on events that changed history, trucks that seemed innovative at the time and now make us cringe, and a bunch of rides that remain timeless. It's been a history lesson for the current staff of Sport Truck and we're sure it will be for most of you.
Thank You!Before we go any further, we must thank one of our most loyal readers, Peter Kraus of Stone Mountain, Georgia, for donating his entire collection of Sport Truck magazines to the staff. Over the years, our own archive of magazines gained so many holes in it that Swiss cheese isn't an accurate description of what it looked like. Peter has been a fan of ST since day one and graciously gave us every single magazine in his collection. Thanks to him, we now know what happened to that one truck that got lowered that one time in that story with the guy at the suspension shop in California.
In the beginning, there were short shorts, tiny wheels, bolt-on roll pans, and scalloped graphics as far as the eye could see. The short shorts, by the way, were worn by dudes who also had mullets and neon-colored Oakley Blades. The year was 1988 and Petersen Publishing launched Sport Truck magazine to chronicle and define the art and lifestyle of custom-truck building. Twenty years later, the chicks are wearing the short shorts (thank God!) and although the mullets are mostly gone and the truck-build styles have changed, the game remains the same. Sport Truck is still here, covering the progression of the modern-day custom truck.
They say you're doomed to repeat the mistakes of the past if you don't know your history. Since there have been quite a few forgettable trends throughout the last 20 years, this recap will serve as a guide to the type of stuff to avoid and trends to embrace. Things like women with big hair, chrome gas-filler doors, and wheels so wide that they hit the fenders of your truck are what you should avoid like a cop with a bad attitude and a radar gun. There are others, but you'll have to read further to find out what they are. There are also some truly phenomenal trucks that were built during in last 20 years and we've hunted down photography of them.
We've picked not only the best each calendar year had to offer, but also the hottest model, most innovative product, and craziest off-the-wall ads ever printed. This trip down Memory Lane is a strange and comedic one, so sit back in your plastic chair, pop open a can of Pepsi Free, and turn off the Atari, because you're gonna be busy for a few hours checking out all the vintage goodness.
Photo 3/25   |   custom Trucks 1988 Chevy C1500
Truck of the Year

The truck that started it all was the '88 Chevy C1500. The aftermarket was primed and ready to customize this sport truck. Bell Tech offered drop spindles, and the staff outfitted its red test truck with Corvette rims and BFG rubber and flogged it for years in tech articles.
Photo 4/25   |   custom Trucks GMC Sierra
Truck of the Year

One of the first five GMC Sierra shortbed trucks ever built, this one rolled off the assembly line in July of 1987. It was quickly customized by Cars & Concepts of Brighton, Michigan, and readied to pace Indy cars at Phoenix International Raceway. The 350-cid small-block was bored to displace 396 cubic inches, and the truck was dropped over a set of 16s. The bright orange/yellow/white faded paint was ahead of its time.
Photo 5/25   |   custom Trucks project S GMC
Truck of the Year

Thom Taylor designed it and Bell Tech's Jim Ewing collaborated with Boyd Coddington and the GMC Truck Center in Santa Fe Springs, California, to build the Project S GMC that graced our very first custom-truck cover. This is the truck that set the custom world on fire. For the next decade, everyone wanted some 15-inch Boyds, scalloped paint, and a shortbed C1500.
Photo 6/25   |   custom Trucks 1966 Ford F100
Truck of the Year

In the September issue, we found Brad and Karen Rose's '66 Ford F-100 at the F-100 Super Nats, where it won Truck of the Year. It's rare enough to find a custom '66, let alone one this freakin' cool. It easily beat out the rest of the feature trucks in '91 to take the title.
Photo 7/25   |   custom Trucks 1966 El Camino
Truck of the Year

This was a tough field of trucks to choose from, but Scott Montgerard's '66 El Camino is just plain bad. Featured in the October issue, the Elco featured some amazing paint-and-body work and a modified set of Iroc wheels that looked right at home with the 6-inch dropped stance. But the most daring mod was probably the deleted chrome trim from atop the bedrails.
Photo 8/25   |   custom Trucks 1972 Chevy C10
Truck of the Year

The Trader's '72 C10 took the trophy by a landslide in '92. One-piece windows, shaved driprails, and a monochromatic chassis and motor were all mods that were ahead of their time. This is a timeless custom.
Photo 9/25   |   custom Trucks 1973 Chevy C10
Truck of the Year

It's chopped, it's shaved, it's a '73 C10 with a '92 Chevy grille assembly grafted onto the fiberglass front end. Even without the 700hp Dyers-blown and Hilborn-injected small-block, Terry Cook's street machine looked insane.
Photo 10/25   |   custom Trucks custom F100
Truck of the Year

It's not sacrilegious to stuff a blown Chrysler Hemi between the fenders of an F-100, and it wasn't a faux pas in '95 to paint the Effie pink either. The polished tin work in the bed, Pro Street-style roll cage, and pink tweed interior all add up to a truck that belonged on the cover, even if it didn't make it.
Photo 11/25   |   custom Trucks 1994 Chevy C1500
Truck of the Year

Dustin Whipple's '94 Chevy C1500 is important for a few reasons. It was one of the first cover trucks to feature tribal graphics, and Dustin would remain a staple of the custom-truck industry thanks to his Dad's business, Whipple Superchargers.
Photo 12/25   |   custom Trucks sidewinder
Truck of the Year

Powered by a Viper V-10 and suspended via a Viper IRS and brakes, the Sidewinder gave us a glimpse of what the Dakota could morph into later on. Of course, it didn't morph into anything like the Sidewinder, but this Metalcrafters project was easily the baddest truck of the year. Doesn't Chevy's SSR look awfully similar?
Photo 13/25   |   custom Trucks chevy Trio
Truck of the Year

We had a tie. We know we suck, but damn it if Alan Budnik, John Bohannon, and Mike King didn't build the sickest trio of Chevys we've ever seen. Budnik's truck featured a handmade grille, hideaway headlights, and a reshaped bed. Bohannon's truck was a work of art with a complete Corvette drivetrain, including the IRS, and a custom sheetmetal bed floor that was perfectly straight. And who could forget the 406-inch small-block-motivated Lobelly Chevy Blazer? It had a sheemetal tonneau that flowed down to a custom center console, a '60 Impala dashboard, and the windshield was laid back on this permanent roadster.
Photo 16/25   |   custom Trucks 1998 Ford Ranger
Truck of the Year

Our first mini-truck to take TOTY honors belonged to Dan Webb. His '98 Ford Ranger flexed a 302/Tremec five-speed combo and staggered 17-/20-inch combo, but that really isn't what counts. The body was heavily massaged into something that resembled a Ranger but was so much better. The alligator-skin covered seats were merely a bonus for your viewing pleasure.
Photo 17/25   |   custom Trucks chevy C10
Truck of the Year

The cover truck for the December issue is probably the baddest Chevy C10 ever built. That's a bold statement, but Joe MacPherson's (as in MacPherson struts!) '70 Chevy is a literal rolling work of metalcrafting art. This thing was so rad that it took two different stories to detail all the mods and hard work that went into it.
Photo 18/25   |   custom Trucks 1993 Chevy Extended Cab
Truck of the Year

James O'Neal's purple '93 Chevy Extended Cab was one of the first trucks to feature a huge monitor stuffed into the dashboard. It also laid flat on the ground, the entire front end was molded together, and the engine and bed areas were detailed to the nines. Seven years later, James is still building rockin' audio and video systems at Devious Customs in California.
Photo 19/25   |   custom Trucks cadi Klysm
Truck of The Year

Cadi-Klysm put Shant Bedrosian on the Sport Truck map when we shot it for the December cover. Arrow-straight custom bodywork, a Pro Street tube chassis, and a Cadillac Northstar drivetrain were just some of the highlights that put this over-the-top custom into the record books.
Photo 20/25   |   custom Trucks 1968 Chevy Pickup
Truck of the Year

Take away Jesse Jane from the photos of Gabe Lopez's '68 Chevy, and this truck still gets our mojo goin'. The smoothed and molded exterior is one thing, but the professional upholsterer went gonzo inside the cab, creating everything by hand and covering it in supple leather.
Photo 21/25   |   custom Trucks custom Dualie
Truck of the Year

It must have been a logistical issue that stopped us from putting this dualie on the cover. Or maybe it was because Gary never mentioned the guy's last name in the feature story. Whatever the reason, it doesn't matter. The bottom line is the guy smoothed and painted the freakin' cab floor with the same graphics that ran all over the outside of the truck. Nuff said.
Photo 22/25   |   custom Trucks KRZ Chevy Silverado
Truck of the Year

The KRZ Chevy Silverado can take much of the credit for putting the body-dropless chassis on the map. Many of the guys in Central California who are now building them did time at the now-defunct KRZ shop, and this Chevy was the first finished project we trained our lenses on. It was a trendsetter then and still holds up to today's standards of custom-truck building.
Photo 23/25   |   custom Trucks chevy S10
Truck of the Year

There's no doubt that Chip Foose is the pulse of the automotive industry, and we're all trying to lay a finger on him. So when he let the ST staff hang out on the set of the Overhaulin' TV show while his shop built the Napa Chevy S-10, we got more than we bargained for. From the blown rat motor to the 22-inch-wide rear tires, this truck was our favorite of the year.
Photo 24/25   |   custom Trucks 1956 Ford F100
Truck of the Year

Tom Pagano built one of the most amazing trucks of any vintage. Period. This issue is worth buying the back issue of just to see his '56 F-100, and the free poster of Lana Kinnear doesn't hurt either.
Photo 25/25   |   custom Trucks 2007 Chevy Pickup
Truck of the Year

Caldwell finished his '07 Chevrolet in no time flat. The truck was shot for the November '07 cover sitting flat on the deck and then shot again for the March '08 cover, this time fully customized. Every panel on the truck was touched, and the thing lays out over 26-inch wheels.



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