2009 Readers' Rides Showcase
Time To Show Off
WELCOME to the latest edition, for better or worse, of our annual family album--Truck Trend's Readers' Rides. We may not have many celebrities in our family tree, but we have plenty of honest guys and gals who love their vehicles. Pickups, SUVs, haulers, cruisers, show trucks, and even a few monsters--every one of our highlighted rigs solves a number of problems for their owners. Check out the photos and read the text. Find out how other truck lovers are using and modifying their rigs. Who knows? There might be a few ideas here for your own vehicle. And, of course, there's always next year: Keep your eyes open for our 2010 Readers' Rides form in our September/October 2009 issue.
Broadview Heights, Ohio
Andrew found his semi after 20 years of searching. He spent nine months restoring it with the help of his son-in-law and has since taken it to truck shows and driven it in parades in Ohio. In its prior workaday life, the Hendricksen hauled a propane tanker for HIX Gas. It's now powered by a 270 Cummins; other upgrades include radial tires, redone interior, standard speedometer in the dash, and new paint.
Bonner Springs, Kansas
Chris hasn't been too concerned about making big changes to his Ram, which is powered by the stalwart 5.9-liter Cummins turbodiesel. Instead, he just enjoys what it can do. He uses his four-wheel-drive Heavy-Duty to tow his 23-foot Crownline, named Black Pearl, to rallies and poker runs.
Greg's Silverado is a truck that serves many purposes. It's his transportation to work every day. It's his work truck. It's his hauler--it pulls his 28-foot enclosed trailer and also serves as lugger for his car trailer. He hasn't made any modifications to it, but when it does all this with no trouble, why should he?
Elk Grove, California
Jack's four-wheel-drive Tundra has several exterior modifications, including a SnugTop cap, billet grille, new taillights and wheels, Pirelli Scorpion Zeros, and chrome tube steps. The 4.7-liter V-8 uses a K&N FIPK filter and Magnaflow dual exhaust. What does he use it for? According to Jack: "extreme pleasure."
San Diego, California
We love to see these rare birds being used on the trail, and Jo is certainly having a lot of fun here. The VehiCROSS uses a three-inch Calmini lift and 33-inch Nitto Mud Grapplers on Pro Comp Street Lock wheels. Body upgrades include a modified Mercedes ML320 brush guard, rock rails, Black Widow spare tire carrier, and modified skidplates from an Isuzu Trooper. This Isuzu has traversed the backcountry in Moab and the dunes in Southern California and Mexico.
This regular-cab Sierra has a 2004 Cadillac Escalade front fascia, swapped in at a local shop in Anchorage. Daniel's truck is black inside and out, with airbrushed realistic flames on the front fenders. The tailgate was shaved, brake lights painted, and HID headlights installed. The 5.3-liter uses a K&N air filter and oil filter, plus a chip. The custom interior uses two captain's chairs and a folding middle seat, plus an in-dash DVD player, 10-inch subwoofers, and an iPod jack.
San Diego, California
When he isn't in a troop carrier or Humvee, Sergeant Slipher's civilian mode of transportation is this pristine F-150. He added a 2.5-inch Bilstein leveling kit, Airaid cold-air intake with throttle-body spacer, JBA headers, and three-inch cat-back Flowmaster exhaust. Mark's F-150 takes him to work every day and onto trails whenever possible.
Jackson, New Jersey
Darrell's Toyota, the first truck he ever bought, was treated to a 10-inch Trailmaster lift and Mickey Thompson wheels and tires, custom removable top, Rhino Lining bed liner, and Orange Pearl paint. He also added a polished Stull grille, Lund visor and rollpan, Gaylord bed cover, Hella lights, custom door panels, and gave the V-6 a K&N air filter and Downey headers. He takes it to the store, the job, and cruise nights.
San Diego, California
After finding his dream truck, Ahmet set out on a cross-country adventure to pick it up. He flew to Connecticut to get the Unimog, drove to Alabama to pick his son Alec up from Space Camp, and was back in California in 14 days--and at a truck show with it two days later. The 'Mog--with six forward gears, two reverse, four-wheel drive, and two crawler gears, dual 70-gallon tanks, and seating for three (including the jump seat in back)--was a search and rescue vehicle in the Swiss army.
G.C. loves using his truck to haul equipment and gear, which he proved when he submitted photos of his truck in action (sorry we couldn't include all of them). You can see the John Deere in tow here, plus he has a camper that serves as home away from home, and uses it to haul other equipment, including a tractor. G.C. added a B&W body, Brunner aluminum boxes, Jake brake, dual stacks, and Bully Dog chip.
Windsor Mill, Maryland
This truck puts in serious hours, every day of the week. Paul uses his 6.4-liter Power Stroke-equipped Super Duty to haul a 25-foot trailer filled with John Deere golf equipment nearly every day, and when he gets the chance, he takes it to the beach in North Carolina. He added 20-inch wheels, spray-in bedliner, and a Weather Guard tool box.
Tupper Lake, New York
This Nissan King Cab Titan came well optioned from the factory, but received even more equipment once it got into Paul's hands. He added a Westin grille guard, brush guard, and nerf bars, KC lights, Lund Sunvisor II w/light kit, Extang Tonneau cover, and a PRG Suspension two-inch leveling kit. He also opted for a Stillen dual cat-back exhaust, and BFG A/T tires on 18-inch American Racing wheels.
Montague, New Jersey
Here's another truck that merited a cross-country trip. Dawson bought his Tacoma in Southern California while visiting his grandfather. The trip was pretty long for him and his father, both of whom are over six feet tall--and the truck's seats don't recline, the steering wheel doesn't tilt, and there's no cruise control. But he's done a lot to it, including adding Flowmasters, cold-air intake, an "unnecessarily large" TRD tip, Extang tonneau, chrome bumpers, and Bridgestone Duelers on Ultra wheels.
Patrick's F-150, powered by a modified 5.4-liter V-8, has been completely tricked out. It has a full air suspension with DJM upper and lower control arms, shaved door handles and moldings, a custom green ghost flame paint job, tubbed bed sprayed with Line-X, and 22-inch Eagle alloy wheels replated in black nickel, wrapped by Hankook Ventus ST tires. It's used for work during the week and as a cruiser on the weekends.
The Baja appearance package was offered only on four-wheel-drive S-10s from 1988 to 1991, making this clean '91 a rare truck. The Baja package came with a rollbar and off-road lights; skidplates under the transfer case, front diff, fuel tank, and oil pan; grille guard with foglights; special rear bumper; and special suspension package. Joel's Frost White truck is powered by the 4.3-liter V-6 with a five-speed manual trans.
When Ohio was under water in the flooding of August 2007, Mike's extended-cab Sierra was used to haul building materials from the lumber-supply store and made it through the floodwaters--up 27 inches at his house--with ease. The truck has a six-inch Fabtech suspension, 31-inch BFGs, Westin body mods, dual exhaust, toolbox, Superchips programmer, and Rhino bedliner.
To say Max likes to be unusual would be an understatement. He bought this stout rig from an Austrian Fire and Rescue division and hasn't made a single modification. There are 19,000 original kilometers on the odometer, and on his last trip to the backcountry, he had to use his 20-speed rig to rescue a HUMMER H1 from a big hole.
Downers Grove, Illinois
Mike takes great pride in his Yukon Denali, telling us it's kept spotless--he won't take it out of the garage if it's dirty. Its AWD is plenty to handle the harsh Chicago winters and has plenty of room inside for the kids and dogs. He added a Hypertech programmer, Magnaflow muffler, satellite radio, PIAA lights, and K&N air filter. It's the vehicle of choice for family vacations, trips to the hardware store, and towing the trailer.
Robert K. Lambert
Dedicating this submission to his father, Robert built and restored this treasured classic to its full luster and beauty. Although it started out as a lowly shop truck for an upholstery company, now it does family duty, towing a restored speed boat and family camping trailer. And, with a new 5.0-liter V-8 and six-speed, it can still do a wicked smoky burnout at the boat launch.
David's F-1 is purely used for fun. While it once was a work truck, the '49 is spending its golden years in parades and at shows and on the occasional pleasure cruise. Adding some modern touches, he converted it from six to 12 volts, replaced the generator with an alternator, and swapped in a heavy-duty radiator and electric fan.
Sugarloaf Key, Florida
Scott's bright-orange Avalanche rides higher than it used to, thanks to the six-inch Pro Comp lift and 35-inch Mickey Thompson tires on 17s. The 5.3-liter was given an Airaid intake, JBA headers and Gibson dual cat-back exhaust, and Hypertech programmer, and a bull bar, nerf bar, and taillight guards were mounted to the body. Scott uses it daily and romps it in the Keys swamps.
This Toyota, not sold in the U.S., is similar to the 4Runner. It uses a shortened HiLux chassis and shares the 4Runner's engine, transmission, 4WD system, and diffs. Ibrahim gave it a 2.5-inch Old Man Emu lift and larger tires, for more than 11 inches of ground clearance. He also added a bull bar, Warn winch, front air locker and compressors, snorkel, and auxiliary battery. And as you can see, he frequents the dunes with his daily driver.
Gary bought this truck new and took delivery while stationed at Osan Air Base in Korea. While his regular cab Dakota is mostly stock, he added a Hellwig rear anti-roll bar and replaced the stock shocks with KYB Monomax units. The 4.7-liter V-8 was given a K&N FIPK and Flowmaster cat-back exhaust and is backed by the stock five-speed manual. To add style, he bolted on the fender flares from the Dakota R/T. He ran his truck at the Cecil County Dragway in Maryland, where it went 15.1 seconds at 89 mph in the quarter.
Sparta, New Jersey
When Steve isn't commuting on a daily basis (and getting 20 mpg), he's constantly on the go. He cited some of his hobbies as camping, kayaking, biking, skiing, and doing home-improvement projects--and he uses the Ram for all of it. As you can see, he is a proud member of the Airstream family, with a Safari 25SS. The Ram has an Alpine stereo, Mopar tow mirrors, Brakesmart controller, Access roll-up tonneau, and HID lights.
Eric's F-350 Lariat was packed and ready to go to Big Scrub campground in the Ocala National Forest. The Ford's 7.3-liter V-8 diesel uses a Banks performance chip, K&N filter, and Banks exhaust brake. Eric added a Tekonsha Voyager XP trailer brake system, runningboards, and a diamond plate toolbox (removed to accommodate the quads). In the bed: Suzuki LT-250 4x4 and Yamaha Big Bear 400 IRS 4x4 Exploring Edition quads. Behind the truck is a Trail-Lite 20-foot travel trailer with a pair of 2006 carbon-fiber Cannondale mountain bikes.
Schuykl Haven, Pennsylvania
This is one daily driver, the owner tells us, that doesn't mind working hard, which is a good thing since it spends much of the time towing a buddy's race car to and from the local tracks. Gary tells us he's kept it simple; the only mods are a Flowmaster cat-back exhaust and K&N filter.
Buck's daily driver came from the factory with GM's rocketing 6.2-liter, 420-horsepower V-8 and six-speed automatic, so the only mod he needed to add was the GM Performance Parts cold-air intake. He's so happy with the comfort and capability of his Denali, he uses it for traveling on the weekends, too. As he explains, the powertrain is tame until he needs extra power, then "the tiger comes out."
Bridge Creek, Oklahoma
Louis is the proud owner of a 2007 Toyota Tundra, which screams down the highway with the 381-horsepower, 5.7-liter V-8, to which he added a Volant Powerpack cold-air intake and a Flowmaster dual exhaust. He loves it on the daily commute and has fun using it to haul cargo on the weekend.
It's easy to clock 34,000 miles on a truck in a year. Mike's F-100 XLT Ranger only has 34,000 miles on it--total. His truck is unrestored and is powered by a 302 V-8 and an automatic. He replaced the stock wheels and tires and put on bed caps to cover up holes from the original owner's camper shell. He occasionally uses the truck to tow his camper to the lake, but mostly just enjoys leisure drives.
Vermillion, Calgary, Alberta, Canada
As you might've guessed, this stout rig is all work truck, and for good reason. Steve is an oil field supervisor and his truck spends most of its time on gravel roads and even some places where there are no roads. But don't worry; he's got a solid winch setup, a two-inch lift, big mudders, and a nasty front light bar that can hold a snowplow when needed.
Michael J. Williams
As an ironworker in the Northeast, Michael says he has to depend on his truck to get him from job to job, no matter what the weather. But that didn't mean he couldn't make a few improvements to his big red truck. He started by adding a Leer tonneau, some runningboards, a K&N cold air intake, and finished it all off with a chrome trim package. Now he can get to any job in style.
Sante-Thrse, Quebec, Canada
Michel is very happy with the combination of capability and fuel efficiency his truck has to offer. He kept the truck mostly stock, but it came well equipped from the dealer. In addition to the Duramax diesel, LT package, and towing package, it has parking assist, chrome side steps, and a bedliner. He uses it to tow his fifth-wheel trailer and gets 24 mpg when not towing (13 when he is).
When you live in a town called Dodge, how much free choice do you really have? No matter. Gary's Ram spends most of his time hauling a pair of Harleys inside his custom hauler and has a dual exhaust system, a chip, and a sharp-looking wheel and tire package.
Bradley Duke Daum
As a master craftsman and carpenter of stunning beachside decking (we've seen pictures of his work), it's clear Bradley puts the same energy into his truck building. This shortbed beauty was one of the first seven-inch lifts (designed by Fabtech) installed on a Chevy. It looks like the perfect combination of sand and machine.
Marble Falls, Texas
This tow rig, powered by a 7.3-liter Power Stroke V-8, spends a lot of time on the road. Cecil tells us his Western Hauler conversion tows the family trailer all over the Southwest, attending truck shows. He didn't tell us what kind of pickup sits inside the 32-foot toy hauler, but we're guessing it's pretty nice as well.
Spartanburg, South Carolina
With fuel prices what they are, Cletis tells us they mainly drive this truck on the weekends, but that doesn't mean they're not putting it to good use. In fact, he says he and his grandson (that's him in front) like to "hunt" for Ford and Chevy pickups. Added modifications include a dual exhaust, cold air intake, and a chip.
Robert E. Lindstrom
Shell Lake, Wisconsin
There isn't a single modification made to this classic Ramcharger, and that's exactly the way Robert wants it. With 86,000 miles on it so far, he's looking to keep this in the family for quite a while. Robert bought the vehicle brand new and has used it on several trips to California. He says he gets 20 mpg out of his 318 V-8. Fuel savings and good looks--definitely a double threat.
Raleigh, North Carolina
One of the nice things about buying a four-wheel-drive SUV, Brenda tells us, is that it'll give you support, whatever your mood. During the week, she needs her Grand to be a dependable daily driver, while on the weekends, she likes to explore the beaches in and around Freeman Park, where soft sand can be treacherous for those without a good 4x4.
Franklinton, North Carolina
Bob is about as proud as a man can be of his 1997 F-150. He ordered it new right after he retired after 40 years in heating and air-conditioning. He tells us he's 77 years young and still does all the maintenance. In fact, he flushes the radiator with distilled water every other year, whether it needs it or not. He also tells us Fords run in his family. In fact, just last March his dad (now 97) gave him his beloved 1994 F-150. Bob tells us he'll take extra special care of that one, too.
Jackson Hole, Wyoming
If you're wondering why you can't see much of Doug's full-size XL in this photo, it's because he uses his rig to get to some of the most remote and beautiful locations around Alaska and British Columbia, and we're guessing he just didn't feel right not getting as much of the beautiful surroundings in his photo as he did his vehicle and boat. And, yes, that's Doug waving.
Glendale, New York
We're told this 4Runner has to last for another decade or so, and from the looks of it, Joseph Mendolia knows how to take care of his vehicles. With 170,000 miles on the odometer right now, this clean machine with a little V-6 looks like it'll keep its owner happy for quite a while.
James tells us his Ram is used every other weekend during most of the year to tow the family's 25-foot travel trailer all over the state. We're guessing the Hemi doesn't have any trouble at all. Lately, he's added some runningboards to make it a touch easier to get in and out, as well as a tonneau cover for the bed.
When you're a volunteer fireman for the local township, you'd better have the right truck. For Michael Applewhite, that means his little red fire truck needs to be set up right: 31-inch BFGs, a Westin brushguard, and an Optima battery are just a few of the mods. He uses it to help others, as well as travel the country.
Hamilton Township, New Jersey
You'd never know it from this photo, but Joe's quarter-mile cruiser does quite a bit of traditional truck duty. Not only does he take it the local racetrack (Joe's nickname for her is "Late Night Mystery"--we didn't ask why), but this pickup does daily driving duties, tows his boat, jet skis, and a utility trailer. There's no way to list all the modifications (inside, out, or underhood), but we're guessing Joe may have a few more he wants to do as well.
Swansboro, North Carolina
No major mods on this one, but it's clear the owner likes to keep his vehicle looking good. Accents are key here. Chrome highlights on the sidesteps, front grille, dual exhaust, and front bumper guard, as well as the shiny rims, make this pickup sparkle, even in the midday sun. Joey tells us this Z71 V-8 loves to tow the family boat and run open and free on the local beaches.
If you've never heard the name Haishan Deng before, chances are you will at some point in the future. Haishan sent us this award-winning drawing that blew us away and in order to get it into this issue, we've decided to call this a future readers' ride. How cool would this be to have around the house to get yardwork done or to bring to the construction site? Keep your eyes open for this one in about 20 years.
Jamie's work truck and weekend toy is powered by the well-known 4.3-liter V-6, which was given a K&N filter, Tornado fuel saver, and Poweraid TBI spacer. The truck also has a drop-in bedliner, diamond-plate toolbox, Xenon headlights, and two-inch body lift. It rides on MFG Mud-Terrains with American Eagle wheels and has a Westin bull bar and Baja long-range lights.
New Tripoli, Pennsylvania
Just about every modification Joshua made to his F-150 was in the name of making it a better puller for his 30-foot fifth-wheel trailer. Josh loves to see the reaction his fellow towers have when he pulls up in his "light-duty" truck with the big load. He's set up his rig with Rancho adjustable shocks, a K&N FIPK kit, a Superchip, dual exhausts, a Reese hitch, extendable tow mirrors, and BFG tires.
Marble Falls, Texas
It's not often we get to see a family's entire fleet. Astute readers should be able to find Cecil's tow rig elsewhere in this photo album. Cecil likes mid-1960s Ford pickup trucks and here are three. The front one is a fully restored '66 with a 352 under the hood. The next in line is a '65 with a 300 I-6. And the one way in back (he tells us it's his next project) will be the twin of the F-100 in front. All we can say to Cecil is thank you for keeping the classics alive.
Hamilton Township, New Jersey
Kathy's Escalade sees daily action and has amassed over 111,000 miles, but that doesn't stop this Caddy from going off road and putting in runs at the drag strip. Known as the "Heart Attack Cadillac" to its family, the Caddy is equipped with performance bolt-ons, a Street Scene Chrome Speed Grille, Matrix clear marker lights and LED taillights, and rocks chrome 20-inch Ferretti wheels wrapped in General Grabber rubber.
Dubbed the Raider Rig, Frankie has modified his everyday ride to show off his Raider pride. Limo tint and a black Sportsman Front Grille help to black out the Suburban, while the interior has been fully upgraded with an Alpine media station, ICOM TV monitors, and two Playstation 2 systems for both the front and the back.
Trucks are meant to haul anything its driver tosses in its bed, and that's exactly what Justin does with his Silverado. Aside from hauling wood, dirt, and anything else he can fit in back there, he also tows his utility trailer that carries his ATV. Modifications to his truck include a Go Rhino Brush Guard and a Flowmaster exhaust.
Dean has added dual pipes and premium leather seats to his ride, while also lowering it. Simple enough, and his ride will get the job done for his activities of "bar hopping and pleasure."
While this ride belows to Alex's friend Daniel, Alex has sent us a neat story about how the Ram went off roading and nearly didn't make it back. Equipped with 33-inch tires, a custom paint job, and a Flowmaster dual exhaust, the Ram has provided Daniel and Alex with plenty of off road excitement.
Paul M. Tramontano
Neptune, New Jersey
Mr. Plow references aside, this Ram 2500 is mainly used to run Paul's copper business, which includes being used to tow a 20-foot trailer. For the winter time, a BOSS 8-foot snow plow adorns the front; other modifications include a Mopar cold air intake, Mopar sliding ladder racks and bed liner, and more.
Klamath Falls, Oregon
Steve's diesel Ram is put to good use, as it is mainly used to pull his boat, while getting nearly 20 mpg on the highway. The Ram sees a lot of action in the summer and winter, and is modified with low restriction intake and exhaust systems.
Bob's F-150 is used for pleasure, and he has given his truck a hefty amount of upgrades. Providing extra power is a Superchips Power Programmer, and a K&N air filter system hooked up with a Ram Air Hood. The truck adores chrome, as chrome trim, chrome headlights and taillights, chrome exhaust tips, and chrome toe hooks have all made their way onto the truck. A 2.5-inch leveling kit has also been fitted onto the Ford.
Jon P. Florez
Ewa Beach, Hawaii
Hailing from sunny Hawaii is this 2008 Ford Ranger Sport, driven by Jon P. Florez of the U.S. Navy. When he's not driving to work, Jon takes his Ranger around the island, both on and off the road. A Jet Performance Chip, dual Flowmaster 40-Series exhaust, Westin Front Brush Guard, Delta Diamond Plate Toolbox, and Alpine I.C.E. give this Ranger a personal touch.
Hamilton Township, New Jersey
Joe's 1994 Suburban is used for nearly everything, from towing his Jetski, utility trailer, and show car to cruising on the weekends. Dubbed the "Late Night Beast," the Suburban has been fitted with performance bolt-ons, an extensive list of exterior modifications, and a full in-car-entertainment setup. No wonder the Suburban has never let Joe down.
Ron Smith Jr.
Ridgelines are not that common, but professional auto detailer Ron here has completely decked out his Ridgeline. To make a unique statement, Ron has added an AVS bug shield, vent guards, chrome door handles, a Torza tonneau cover, and Westin stainless steel side bars. For some extra power, a stainless steel exhaust and K&N Filtercharger have also been added.