Custom Truck Enthusiast - Early Age Enthusiasm - Ground Zero
If you are a longterm custom truck enthusiast, chances are your enthusiasm for the hobby of building, owning, and showing custom trucks has been progressively developing over many years. For me and many other diehards out there, becoming an automotive addict at a young age is a reality we know all too well. It all started in the late-'70s, when my father purchased a '76 Dodge Tradesman stubby van and began tricking it out. In that day and age, customized vans were in full swing and it was through that old Dodge van that I was introduced to customized vehicles. Within months of delivery from the dealership, my pops had that thing lowered, fit with headers and exhaust, and riding on chrome split-spoke wheels with wide BFGoodrich rubber in the back. Sporting a chrome square-tube grille in the front, the van served as a tow vehicle to the river on the weekends and a shuttle for the kids' soccer practice during the weekdays.
Every time my dad would add more custom flair to that old beast, I would watch tentatively and learn. Over the years we owned that old van, it went through three different paintjobs all color-coordinated to match dad's boat and got a few different interiors equipped with swivel seats. He rocked custom mudflaps in the back with the chrome girls in place, and I can still hear the rumble of the camshaft and the cackle of the headers every time the old 360 was brought to life. Many weekends were spent blasting down the road on the way to the lake in that old family hot rod with The Eagles and The Bee Gees blasting out of the aftermarket 6x9-inch speakers. As cool as the old van was, my dad and I wanted to get something we could take to hot-rod shows.
The year was 1989 and my custom automotive enthusiasm was at an all-time high. All I could think about was driving and showing a hot rod. Agreeing that a hot rod would be a good thing for Dad and I to do together, Mom gave us the green light and the search began. After all, everything my dad ever owned had been customized in some way, so why not? We located an all-steel '29 Ford Model A roadster pickup with chrome Jaguar suspension and a 302ci V-8 under the hood. It had a Porsche Red blanket of color over the body, bed, and fenders. I remember counting the minutes until the 3 p.m. school bell would ring so I could get home and polish our new hot rod. Dad and I would spend hours in the garage waxing the paint and polishing the chrome to prepare for many Saturday and Sunday car shows. Cruising by the beach with the top down and old '50s songs pouring out of the stereo, my enthusiasm grew with every chirp of the tires and each thumbs-up by passersby. Naturally, when I turned 16, an average car was not going to do it for me.
My already strong enthusiasm was then poured into an '83 GMC shortbed, which I campaigned on the Southern California show circuit for about 4 years. I drove it to high school, while still attending hot-rod shows with my dad. In those days, I can remember walking out into my folks' driveway and seeing my black GMC show truck, my sister's '66 Mustang, my other sister's tricked-out 4x4 Jeep, and my Mom's '85 Jaguar XJ6 with a tuned-port Corvette motor stuffed between the 'rails. I surprised a few Mustang 5.0s and Camaros on prom night in that old sedan.
After the days when I spent my weekends riding in a hot-rod roadster and showing my old shortbed, I had a short stint in the musclecar realm, where I owned a '69 Camaro with a built small-block under the hood and a Hurst four-speed between the seats. Wow, what a car that was! After I tired of the Camaro, my old '90 GMC ONE4SHO came along and I was back into the truck scene full swing. Today, my daily work is putting my high-degree of enthusiasm into every article I write and it all goes back to a father's commitment to teach his young son about custom rides and how to properly care for and enjoy them. I encourage parents out there to get their youngsters involved in customized automobiles. It could be the best experience you could ever introduce to them. Until next month, keep hitting those switches, cranking good tunes (such as The Eagles or The Bee Gees), and cruising until your heart's content.