2014 Readers' Rides Showcase
Rare To Common, Old To New… A Little Bit Of Everything
The passion for trucks manifests itself in many forms, and that came through loud and clear in this year's Readers' Rides roundup. We have vintage submissions, late-model pickups, and some rare birds, such as an Isuzu Vehicross. (When's the last time you saw one of those?) It doesn't take radical customization or crazy stunts to get into Readers' Rides, just a love for your truck and a few minutes of your time to take some pictures and send in a writeup. Plan ahead, and you could be featured in Readers' Rides 2015.
1999 Isuzu VehiCross
Jo Birch -- San Diego, California
This '99 Isuzu VehiCross takes the prize as one of the rarest late models on our list. Although there's not exactly abundant afermarket support for this futuristic-looking SUV, that didn't stop Birch from going all out with the upgrades. The VehiCross is li ed 4 inches in the front with torsion bar re-keying, a custom differential drop and crossmember, and 4.5-inch rear ARB Old Man Emu coil springs and spacers. The front wheelwells were custom-cut and finished for extra off -road clearance. Birch had to go off script for some of the other upgrades, including a one-off rock bumper and headlight guard pieced together and fabricated off various parts found on eBay, a custom hood insert off a Camaro, a three-piece skidplate set off a Trooper, a custom exhaust with a Flowmaster muffl er, and custom rock rails. To make sure the VehiCross is ready for whatever off -road action it encounters in Moab or SoCal, the drivetrain features custom driveshafs, 4.77 gears, front and rear lockers, heavyduty tie rods, and adjustable rear links. You've got to appreciate that level of dedication!
2006 Dodge Ram 3500
Roy Gendreau -- Windsor, Connecticut
New England doesn't have a reputation as "truck country," but some of the coolest rigs we've seen in Readers' Rides have come from the Northeast. Roy Gendreau added a set of chrome-plated exhaust stacks to his 2006 Ram 3500 dualie, along with a diamond plate toolbox, running boards, and an Edge Insight performance monitor. He uses the truck to tow his fifth-wheel camper trailer -- and just to "show off ." The eight-year-old rig has only 30,000 miles on it, ensuring it will be towing for many years to come.
1992 Toyota SR-5 Pickup
Chris Stubb -- Washington State
We're not sure what's louder on Chris Stubb's '92 Toyota pickup: the exhaust or the paint job. With the 3.0-liter V-6 running a straight-pipe exhaust with no cat, other drivers are sure to hear him coming, and with its 7-inch HID off -road lights, nobody can use the excuse "We didn't see you coming." Other upgrades to Chris' truck include a 4-inch lift with 32-inch BFGoodrich KM2 tires, a K&N intake, a Smittybilt bumper, and tube steps.
1977 Dodge W200 Power Wagon
John O'Leary -- Harper's Ferry, West Virginia
Originating just aft er World War II, the Power Wagon has been part of off-road lore for decades. John O'Leary's Power Wagon splits the difference between the original and modern versions. His brother purchased it in 1990 at the Letterkenny Army/Navy Depot in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania. John bought it in 2000. It works around the homestead for snow plowing, firewood hauling, and mud racing. An 8-inch lift, Spicer 60 front and rear axles, and 4.56 Detroit TrueTrac axles make sure it's ready for whatever terrain it encounters.
1997 Chevrolet C1500
Mike Moore -- Seaford, Virginia
The GMT400 pickups from 1988-1998 are some of the most timeless-looking trucks of the modern era, with their clean, simple lines. Mike Moore's 1997 C1500 might not be the craziest custom of all time, but he uses it for its intended purpose: work. Despite having nearly 260,000 miles on its clock, the truck looks practically showroom-clean, with custom touches including chrome wheelwell accents, roof marker lights, a Rough Country 2-inch lift , and a Flowmaster muffler.
1989 GMC Sierra 3500 4x4
Lance Tapia -- West Jordan, Utah
We're not sure what looks more menacing: a slammed dualie crew cab or a lift ed dualie. Lance Tapia makes a good case for the latt er with his 1989 GMC Sierra 3500 4x4. Powered by a factory 454 big-block and a trusty TH400 automatic transmission, the truck has a Dana 60 front and Dana 70 rear axle, an 8-inch Skyjacker lift , and massive 315/75R16 Falken Wildpeak A/T tires. We don't know if Lance is a big football fan or not, but if we had to venture a guess at his favorite team, we'd pick the Raiders. What do you think?
2013 F-150 Ford Raptor SVT
Benjamin Biller -- Cleveland, Texas
This SuperCrew Raptor is loaded with mods. Benjamin Biller leveled the truck by raising the front suspension to the mid-perch and then added a camber kit from Specialty Products Leveled. There's also SDHQ frame reinforcement, Saints Off road Bravo LED front and rear bumper, PIAA lights, Volant intake, American Racing headers, DeeZee EZ Down tailgate, Dynolock tailgate locker, RetraxPro rollaway bed locker, BedRug, AMP Research power running boards, WeatherTech Extreme Duty fl oor mats, and Vortec mudfl aps. Ben also added two Stereo Integrity 12-inch subwoofers inside.
2007 Toyota Tundra
Andrew Baskett -- Johnson City, Tennessee
Andrew Baskett got this 2007 Toyota Tundra for his 16th birthday and has given it plenty of custom work since. The truck rides on Nitto Terra Grappler tires on 18-inch XD Monster wheels with a 3-inch Ready Lift spacer lift , and it has an MBRP exhaust and K&N intake. Andrew installed custom headlights, an Expedition One front bumper, and PIAA driving lights. Exterior upgrades include Bushwacker pocket fender fl ares, a custom skidplate, and a powdercoated rear bumper. He says he loves his truck and never plans to sell it.
2013 Toyota Tundra CrewMax
Michael and Anthony Santoro -- Lakewood, California
The Toyota Tundra gets some more love in our roundup with the Santoro brothers' Barcelona Red 2013 Tundra CrewMax. The truck has running boards, an AMP Research Bed Step, an integrated rearview camera in the tailgate, a Rhino-lined bed, and a Bakflip tonneau cover. The exterior got chrome wheel covers, door handles, and mirror covers. The Tundra is the Santoro brothers' first new vehicle and is used mainly as a weekend driver for errands to Home Depot or hauling large items for friends and family.
2005 Chevrolet Colorado
Dan Cronin -- Clearwater, Florida
We love it when we see a truck owner depart from the beaten path of customization. That's what Dan Cronin did with his 2005 Chevy Colorado. Riding on old-school Rally wheels with Firestone Firehawk Indy 500 raised white-letter tires, this Colorado pays further homage to the glory days of hot rodding with a Reflexxion cowl induction hood with two silver stripes. Further custom touches include Street Scene mirrors, a Belltech rear anti-rollbar, a Dynomax Turbo muffler, a billet bow tie on the grille, and a locking gas cap.
2010 GMC Sierra 1500 Z71 4x4
Joel Mathers -- Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
Most full-size trucks today are extended or crew-cab models, but some traditionalists like the straightforwardness of good ol' regular cabs. Joel Mathers bucked the trend when he bought his 2010 GMC Sierra Z71. A regular-cab long bed, its configuration is more common on fl eet and work trucks, but there's no mistaking this truck for the cable guy's. The Sierra has a Rough Country leveling kit, a K&N intake, and 33-inch Nitto Terra Grappler tires on XD Thump wheels. Joel calls his truck an "all-around workhorse and toy."
1976 Ford Bronco
Ben Silva -- Harlingen, Texas
We love Ford Broncos of all vintages, but our favoriteis the first-generation body style from the 1960s and '70s. Ben Silva has an awesome example of the model with his blue 1976. Riding on a 5.5-inch lift with 35-inch BFGoodrich Mud Terrain tires, this Bronco is powered by a 1984 Mustang GT 302-cubic-inch V-8. Ben uses it as a daily driver, to haul his and his daughter's kayaks, and on road trips home to see his family. It might not be as big as a full-size pickup, but it's got plenty of practicality for Silva, who says, "Who needs a pickup?"
1974 Chevrolet K20
Brandon Birchmeyer -- Las Cruces, New Mexico
The 1973-'87 GM full-size trucks are probably the quintessential full-size trucks of the era, with their rugged, square-edged styling. It doesn't take much to make these trucks look great, and Brandon Birchmeyer's 1974 Chevrolet K20 looks the business. It has a 400-cube small-block V-8 with ported heads, a 10:1 compression ratio, a Holley 750 carb, long-tube headers, and a true dual exhaust with Flowmaster mufflers. The truck rides on 37-inch tires on ATX wheels and has Dana 80 1-ton axles, a 1-ton transfer case, and a Hurst shifter.
2010 Ram 1500 Bighorn
Jack Dietel -- Edinburg, Illinois
This 2010 Ram 1500 Bighorn is a good example of a late-model truck done right. It features a 2.8-inch leveling/lift kit and rides on 35-inch Toyo MTS tires on 20-inch Ballistic Jester wheels. Adding to the purposeful stance are Bushwacker pocket-style fenders. Other upgrades include Recon interior lighting; LED reverse, cargo, and license plate lights; a spray-in bedliner; and a K&N intake to help let the 5.7-liter Hemi breathe. Dietel says it's his daily driver but it lugs trailers around every now and then.
1953 Chevrolet 100 Pickup
James Belanger -- Stevens Point, Wisconsin
For James Belanger's '53 Chevy, the flat-black paint job is just a practical, low-maintenance finish. If you look closely, you can see custom touches, including dual bow-tie exhaust tips, a custom hood scoop, and white steel wheels, which although not period correct, work well on Belanger's trusty farm truck. A 307-cube small-block V-8 sends power through a three-speed Power Glide transmission, and the front and rear suspension are lifted from a ‘78 Chevy Nova. No trailer queen, the truck is used to tow Belanger's boat.
2004 Chevrolet Avalanche
Tyler Vilimek -- Largo, Florida
In addition to a series of beauty shots, Tyler Vilimek sent one of his truck frolicking on the beach and making a (literal) splash. Among the custom touches Vilimek has added to his rig are color-changing underbody lights, FalkenRocky Mountain AT tires on 18-inch XD Monster wheels, and a FlowmasterSuper 44 muffler. Vilimek says more mods are to come, and that he doesn't baby his Avalanche. "Mudding, towing, hunting, anything that needs to get done, I push my Avalanche to the limits, and it will get the job done.”
2001 Ford F-150 Flareside
Richard Marlette -- Longwood, Florida
This 2001 Ford F-150 Flareside isn't a Lightning, but Richard Marlette is halfway there with a 5.4-liter Triton V-8 with Accel coilpacks, a Hypertech ECU reflash, an Accel TrueBlue cold air intake, and a true dual exhaust with Gibson mufflers. The truck has a Belltech 4/6-inch drop kit with Bilstein shocks and 18-inch SVT wheels, a billet waterfall grille, a Gaylord's tonneau, and SVT head-, corner, and taillights. Marlette says the truck does everything he needs it to do, including towing his race car, taking road trips, and lookin' good.
2006 Dodge Ram 2500 Mega Cab
Nicole Zermeno -- Overton, Texas
At 18, Nicole Zermeno joined the military and had to put her truck dreams on hold. Since leaving the service, she upgraded her 2006 Ram 2500 Mega Cab with a 6-inch BDS suspension lift with Bilstein shocks, 22-inch Rockstar wheels, and Nitto Trail Grappler tires. The truck also has Bushwacker fender flares, AMP Research power steps, Recon smoked lights, a Flowmaster exhaust, a Pioneer custom sound system, and a train horn. The truck is Nicole's daily driver, and she's a member of the LoneStar Rigs truck club.
Matthew Baker -- Cedar City, Utah
The Toyota Tacoma is a proven and rugged truck, and plenty capable right out of the box. So why mess with success? Matthew Baker did just a few functional upgrades to his 1999 Tacoma, installing Flex-a-lite dual electric fans and gray plug wires on the stock 3.4-liter V-6. He uses Amsoil fluids and lubricants. For the ultimate clean, uncluttered look, he also de-badged the truck. In terms of how he uses it, Baker is a man of few words, stating only that it's his daily driver and he takes it hunting on occasion.
2011 Chevrolet Colorado
Jim Applewhite -- White House, Tennessee
If you like the way the truck comes from the factory, you don't have to make a lot of modifications. That's what Jim Applewhite realized with his 2011 Chevrolet Colorado. He stepped up and got the 5.3-liter V-8 in his compact/midsize. It's backed by a four-speed automatic. The truck also came with the ZQ8 sport suspension. What did Jim add to the red crew cab? A set of Chevy mud flaps. He uses the truck for hauling supplies for his new house, running errands, and cleaning out his storage building.
2005 GMC Envoy
Steve Boyed -- Lima, Ohio
Steve's email read: "This is my 2005 GMC Envoy. My kids call it Vader.” His Envoy is powered by the 4.2-liter I-6 and its mods include an AEM cold-air intake, Airaid throttle body spacer, and Jegs Stage II performance chip. There is also a Magnaflow dual exhaust out back. The Dark Spiral Gray SUV lost all its side molding and badges, and the wheels and grille are now gunmetal gray to match. There are Wade headlight covers, Trailblazer SS foglights, black tinted windows, and a black dual-flame hood stripe.
2003 Dodge Ram
Ricky Garza -- Medford, Minnesota
This 2003 crew cab Ram is powered by a 5.7-liter Hemi that Ricky didn't modify, but it does now have a dual exhaust. He opted for a set of BFGoodrich A/T tires to handle the snow in Minnesota, and had the windows tinted. He also installed a brushguard, and took the truck to get a Rhino Linings sprayon bedliner. Ricky builds pole sheds for a living, and uses his truck to haul augers and 2x4s to different job sites. Next on the mods list: a lift, side steps, and a tonneau cover.
2009 Nissan Xterra
Hunter Robinson -- Hardin, Texas
Three days after Hunter got his Xterra, he got it good and dirty and took this photo. When he submitted the info about his SUV, he'd owned it for only a month. It's his second Xterra (his first, an '03, was his first vehicle ever). He was so impressed with how well the first one did off-road, he replaced it with another -- with 4WD. He's taken off the side steps and mud flaps, and wants to get a set of mud terrains. And Hunter knows how to get the Xterra looking good as new once he's done off-roading, as he's a professional detailer.
2007 Dodge Ram 1500 SLT RWD
Joshua Varner -- Springdale/Cave Springs, Arkansas
Why are there two cities listed? Joshua and his wife live in one while getting ready to move to the other. And he uses his RWD 2007 Dodge Ram 1500 SLT to go between the two. The Dodge currently has Daystar 2-inch level spacers, 285/70R17 Nitto Terra Grappler tires, Go Rhino Dominator II steps, Undercover Classic bed cover, a Flowmaster 40 series exhaust, and AVS vent visors. John is an avid hunter and fisherman and an Arkansas Razorback fan. His wife Lizzy loves the truck as much as he does.
2005 GMC Sierra 2500HD
Joseph C. Boca -- Raton, Florida
Under the hood of this GMC Sierra 2500HD lies a 6.0-liter Vortec V-8 with a 4L80E automatic transmission. The Vortec uses a K&N filter and a Flowmaster exhaust. The truck has a 4-inch lift that provides plenty of room for 33-inch BFGoodrich all-terrains. Mr. C. uses his truck for towing and offroading, and takes it to the track for drag racing.
2007 4x4 Dodge Ram 2500
Steven Johnson -- Harrison, Arkansas
We don't know much about Steven's Ram, but we know the kid in front of the truck is cute and, judging from the T-shirt, it's possible that he's a bit of a Monty Python fan. Steven's truck is a 2007 Dodge Ram 2500 Heavy-Duty, and it's in nice condition. We wish we could've seen more of the truck -- but we like that it is almost the same exact color as the Impala parked next to it.
2011 Toyota Tacoma
T-Roy B. -- Eastern Colorado
Let's hear it for regular cabs! T-Roy's Tacoma has an impressive amount of aftermarket products. There are KC HiLites and foglights, Bestop Supertop, N-Fab nerf bars, Optima Yellow Top battery, Cooper Discoverer STT tires, Bilstein 5100 shocks, and a CB radio. The Toyota is powered by the 2.7-liter and the five-speed manual, and the engine is backed by an MBRP exhaust. He uses his truck for fishing and shooting trips, exploring, and road trips. He also does some moderate 'wheelingers, and a true dual exhaust with Flowmaster mufflers. The truck rides on 37-inch tires on ATX wheels and has Dana 80 1-ton axles, a 1-ton transfer case, and a Hurst shifter.
1969 Ford F-250
Rob Jansen -- British Columbia, Canada
As Rob explains, his daily driver is always loaded with something. He uses it for camping, landscaping, four-wheeling, and hauling. The F-250 is powered by a 390 backed by a four-speed automatic. It has an Edelbrock four-barrel carburetor and intake, cam, Hedman headers, 3-inch exhaust, Toyo Open Country tires, airbag suspension, a custom hydraulic lift system, Detroit rear locker, and 4.10:1 gears.
2009 GMC Sierra Denali
Kenneth Gindt -- Boyd, Wisconsin
Kenneth Gindt1s GMC Sierra Denali easily tows collectible cars such as this 1957 Chevrolet. Modifications to the truck focus mostly on improving the performance of the 425-horsepower, 6.2-liter engine backed by a six-speed automatic. The truck has a Superchips tuner, as well as a Flowmaster Force II dual exhaust system. It looks like Kenneth has good taste in trucks -- and cars.
1987 Ford Bronco II
Russ Di Bella -- Lexington, Kentucky
It might not surprise you to learn that Russ built his 1987 Bronco II as an offroad ride. It uses a 4-inch Rough Country suspension with Rough Country shocks, plus a 2-inch body lift. The Ford rides on 33 x 12.5-15 tires. The engine has an Airaid air intake. Russ explores trails in Kentucky and also enjoys finding hill climbs. He admits mudding isn1t his favorite type of offroading, so he tries to avoid it.
2013 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon
Brenda Yates -- Raleigh, North Carolina
Longtime Readers1 Ride entrant Brenda Yates returns, as does her sweet Wrangler Rubicon. She kept it stock (it is a Wrangler Rubicon, aft er all) and enjoys having this super-capable vehicle as her daily driver. She takes it to the beach and on off -road adventures, and is always looking for a sunny day to go topless -- her words, not ours.
2013 Jeep Wrangler Sport
Rachel Yates -- Cary, North Carolina
Looks like Brenda has some friends and family who also enjoy off-roading in Jeeps. Rachel1s Wrangler is also stock, and uses the 3.6-liter Pentastar V-6 and automatic transmission. Her daily driver is also a "dogmobile" for her two pups. She also takes her Jeep to the beach and to explore the backcountry.
2012 Jeep Wrangler Sahara
Chris Scott -- Raleigh, North Carolina
The third Jeep Wranger in the North Carolina triad adds a third trim level to the mix. This one is a stock Sahara with the 3.6-liter and a six-speed manual. Chris calls it the TarJeep, as a tribute to the Carolina Tar Heels. (The Jeep also happens to be blue.) He1s taken the TarJeep cross-country, and he took this shot in the Olympic National Park in Washington State. He also enjoys off -roading and exploring.
1963 Ford F-100
Gareth Hall -- Lone, California
This is a sweet truck. Powered by a 351W and C-4 transmission, Gareth1s daily driver is clean, yet isn1t exactly bone stock. The engine has been bored 0.030 over, and uses an Edelbrock E-Force supercharger, aluminum heads, Performer Plus hydraulic cam, intake manifold, and carburetor. And it1s a unibody truck.
Melvin Neilson -- Brigham, Utah
Check out this regular-cab Sportside 4x4. Melvin replaced the stock wheels with 18-inch Mamba wheels and added a tonneau cover. There are also carbon fi ber-style taillights, grille inserts, headlight protectors, fender vents, and a dash cap. He uses his truck for fi shing trips, and it1s his mode of transportation in winter when the roads are slick. This allows him to keep his Pontiac G8 safe and sound in the garage. Melvin says he1s 74 and never grew up. Growing up is totally overrated.
2009-2014 Ford F-150 STX
Oscar Millan -- Houston, Texas
Oscar1s F-150 is in great shape. The regular-cab Sterling Gray Metallic STX is powered by Ford1s stout 5.0-liter V-8 with a six-speed automatic. He didn1t tell us much about his truck, but we do know he likes to take his Ford to interesting locations for photos. He took it to the airport (we think it1s George Bush Intercontinental near Houston) and to a really lush, tree-lined spot where he put some grass and dirt under the tires. For more info about the truck, you1d have to ask Oscar.
2013 Ford F-150 STX
Harry Richmond -- Indianapolis, Indiana
Harry1s truck has got to be prett y fast. It1s a regular-cab F-150 with the 5.0-liter V-8 under the hood. He hasn1t made many changes. The dealer added vent visors, there is a spray-on bed liner, and the windows were tinted. This is his daily driver, and he uses it for trips to Florida and Tennessee. He also uses it to take his wife to work when it1s snowing.
1992-1996 Ford Bronco
Torrero Gonzalez -- Florida
We liked Torrero Gonzalez1s Bronco so much, we included it even though he didn1t tell us anything about it. Here1s what we1re guessing: It1s 4WD, with locking hubs. From the (Florida-based) Ocean Kings sticker on the rear side window and the neighbors with the boat, we figure he lives near the ocean in or near Florida. But, hey, take a look at his sweet Bronco. We1ll even presume that it1s powered by Ford1s 351W V-8. Why not? If we1re going to guess about the Bronco, we may as well go for the biggest engine available, right?
Sharon Spiering and Dan Spangler -- Victorville, California
After owning nothing but Toyotas for the last 30 years, Sharon and Dan went Rogue -- literally. They bought a new Nissan Rogue compact SUV. Their new ride is Midnight Jade with 17-inch alloy wheels. The source of power: a 170-hp, 2.5-liter inline-four. The interior has charcoal cloth seats. While the crossover is mostly stock, Sharon and Dan did have the dealer install foglights and a tow package.
Carsten Frauenheim -- San Luis Obispo, Calfornia
The second-generation Chevrolet S-10 is one of our favorite body styles of compact trucks, and the S-10 ZR2 is one of the models we like best. It1s also one of Carsten Frauenheim1s favorites. Frauenheim1s a big believer in the ZR21s factory off -road capabilities, and has kept his truck bone stock except for the addition of a rollbar in the bed. He said his truck is very capable, and can hang with much more extensively modifi ed trucks off -road. The 1999 ZR2 is his daily driver.
1968 International C110
Daniel Rice -- Stuart, Florida
Daniel is an alum of Reader1s Rides, with his 2005 F-150 featured in 2012. That truck1s still in the family, pulling fence posts and performing other tasks. What caught our eye this year is Rice1s multi-colored 1968 International C110. Rice bought it for just $10, and he says the truck started right up and still had the original AM radio in it. The truck is 2WD and has a 304-cid International gas V-8 and automatic trans. No word on whether the truck is going to eventually get a "normal" paint job, but our vote is to keep the colorful patchwork paint.