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Reader's Rides 2004

Truck Lovers from Around the World, and Around the Corner

Scott Mortara
Feb 17, 2004
Much of what we do involves evaluating the latest and greatest trucks and SUVs sold in the U.S. While we have plenty of opportunities to see what manufacturers offer, we don't always get to see what modifications you make to give these trucks exactly what you need. That's why we do a special Reader's Rides section, which seems to get bigger every year. Unfortunately, there are only so many pages in each issue, so making the selections from all the entrants is always difficult. If your rig isn't here, maybe making a few mods and snapping a better photo closer to sunset will put you over the top next year. And if you forgot to enter your truck--shame on you. Here's an elite sampling of some real-world pickups and SUVs that Truck Trend readers drive. Look for our 2004 Reader's Rides application form in the September/October 2004 issue of Truck Trend.
Neil J. Losasso
Burbank, California

No, your eyes don't deceive you--this is one of the original trucks from "Duel," the 1971 classic staring Dennis Weaver and a little red Plymouth. Losasso recently came across this beauty and just couldn't resist snapping her up, and we understand why. We just want to know when we get to drive it.

Photo 2/36   |   1960 Peterbilt 355 front Right View
Kevin Brooks
Erie, Pennsylvania

Take an F-850 chassis and hood, add an F-350 body and bed, and this is what you get. With a CAT 3208 turbodiesel engine, an Allison four-speed transmission, and a set of 22.5-inch Alcoa aluminum wheels, Brooks has no problem hauling his hefty horse trailer. With power everything, air brakes, DVD, GPS, backup camera, and 300-gallon fuel capacity, this rig is ready to roll.

Photo 3/36   |   2000 Ford F 1200 side View
Rodger Shoemaker
Wayland, Michigan

The attitude of less is more gives us another fantastic Ford. A Quadzilla power module and exhaust help get more power out of the 6.0-liter diesel. Stock off-road suspension and BFG All-Terrains keep Shoemaker from getting stuck in the snow. Riley looks good to go, but what kind of strings did you have to pull to get that driver's license?

Photo 4/36   |   2003 Ford Xlt F 350 Super Duty side View
Ramon & Cristy Antonio
Virginia Beach, Florida

With the Antonios, less is more. Adding 17-inch wheels shod with P265/70R17s and an off-road skidplate are the only mods you can see. But they also added a multilink coil suspension and an automatic transmission with tow/haul mode. Ramon's description says the couple uses this truck for work and off-road leisure, but what about towing and hauling? By the way--nice plate.

Photo 5/36   |   2003 Chevrolet Avalanche front Side View
Jim Albright
Windsor, Virginia

The stock-looking exterior gives no indication of what lurks under the skin of this monster machine. Albright stuffed a 350ci ZZ4 Chevy crate motor under the hood and mated that to a 700R4 transmission, which supplies the twist to the 1993 S-10 Powertrax posi rearend. The engine breathes through a six-inch K&N air filter and Flowmaster mufflers. Albright's done numerous other mods to the engine, transmission, exhaust, exterior body, suspension, and interior. The only thing left is a four-wheel disc-brake conversion. And those 1971 Chevelle SS wheels look great.

Photo 6/36   |   1983 Chevrolet Ss Zz4 S 10 rear Side View
Norman Rose
Sun City, Arizona

This classic is completely stock from the ground up. Rose says that this model is an Adventurer Sport with bucket seats and--can you believe it--air-conditioning. A 360ci V-8 provides the power for this dandelion-yellow Dodge. From the looks of the tailgate, this truck used to do some hauling, maybe a fifth wheel. One thing we're wondering is if that's the original paint. If so, good show, Mr. Rose.

Photo 7/36   |   1974 Dodge D 100 front Side View
Jurgen Luebke
Keswick, Ontario, Canada

This rig has gobs of goodies on it, most of which you can't even see. Starting with a stock 6.5-liter turbodiesel, Luebke added cooling systems for everything, heavy-duty airbags and shocks, K&N air filter, cowl induction hood, four-inch Monster exhaust, computer chip, Torqloc converter control, and a boost box that ups the turbo boost by three pounds. Getting all that power to the ground is a 4L80-E transmission with 4.10:1 gears in the rearend. With all those mods, Luebke has no problem toting around his 33-foot 2003 Jayco Eagle fifth wheel.
Photo 8/36   |   1994 Chevrolet Silverado 2500 side View
Dennis Klawes
Stoughton, Wisconsin

"Proud to be an American" is an understatement, as you can see with Klawes' bone-stock Dakota. We counted 10 Old Glorys on this black beauty, not counting the red, white, and blue striping down the side. This is a daily driver used to get back and forth from work and for weekend excursions and is the main vehicle for the Klawes family.
Photo 9/36   |   1998 Dodge Dakota front Left View
Chris Lula
Shawnee, Kansas

Under the hood of this big, blue bad boy lurks a massive 488ci V-10, hooked up to a heavy-duty five-speed. A K&N air filter and Dynomax headers with 2.5-inch pipes help keep the air flowing. Lula said he uses his truck for hauling antique tractors and engines. So, Chris, have you ever put a V-10 into one of your tractors?

Photo 10/36   |   1999 Dodge Ram 2500 front Side View
Chuck Chaplinski
Middle River, Minnesota

We love this truck! This black beauty is a six-wheel-drive double dualie (that's 10 tires, folks) sitting on 16-inch Alcoas. Chaplinski has also added a Torqshift automatic transmission with double overdrive, rear air suspension, a hydraulic-tilt bed, and a plethora of personal finishing touches. Chuck, have you done anything unique to the 40-foot RV you tow with this black stallion?

Photo 11/36   |   2003 Ford F 350 side View
Serge Caron
Carignan, Quebec, Canada

This radical rig is packing a 7.3-liter turbodiesel with a Superchip and four-inch exhaust, packing 335 horsepower and 650 pound-feet of torque, which he needs when pulling his fifth wheel. Caron also added ground effects, a grille, a spoiler, Air Ride suspension, and a 600-watt sound system. We don't think your dualie is ugly, but we bet she has a great personality.

Photo 12/36   |   2001 Ford F 350 Super Duty front Side View
Earl A. Spratley
Hampton, Virginia

With a Vortec 5300 V-8 mated to a four-speed automatic with tow/haul mode, the engine and transmission departments are covered. Add an independent front and multilink rear suspension with a set of Goodyears on 17s, and you have ride quality and handling taken care of as well. Toss in wheel flares, red and black pinstripes, a speed grille, and pewter paint applied to the bottom half of Earl's rig, and this Avalanche is one clean machine.

Photo 13/36   |   2003 Chevrolet Avalanche front Side View
Justin Heffernan
North Powder, Oregon

Start with a 350ci V-8 tweaked with computer power tuning breathing through a three-inch dual exhaust, a four-inch Tough Country lift kit, and Nitro wheels with 285/75R16 tires. Add a custom brushguard and headache rack, throw in a kickin' stereo system, and this Sierra's been transformed into one tough trailblazer. Nice job, Justin, and thank you for your support.

Photo 14/36   |   1998 Gmc Sierra 1500 4x4 side View
Alvin Kern
Paola, Kansas

This is another truly awesome monster machine. Starting with a regular Freightliner, Kern went with the attitude of more (and more, and even more) is better. Sporting a 6.4-liter turbo I-6 Mercedes MBE 906 engine, this rig puts out 230 horsepower and a massive 660 pound-feet of torque at 1200 rpm. Then he put a 2001 Dodge dualie bed on the rear of the truck, turning it into a custom two-door extended-cab pickup. Kern added Bostrom Talladega air seats, a 130-amp alternator, a block heater, an air differential lock, air brakes, XM Satellite Radio, and much more.

Photo 15/36   |   2002 Freightliner Fl60 front Side View
Lee Borror
Manassas Park, Virginia

A four-inch Trailmaster lift and 33-inch BFGs on American Racing wheels give Borror the clearance he needs on his backcountry jaunts. A Borla exhaust helps the breathing and the Warn 9000 winch gets him out of sticky situations. Various guards and shields on the body and lights keep all of Borror's parts in place when he's stomping around in the mountains.

Photo 16/36   |   2003 Jeep Wrangler Sahara rear Side View
Mike Dougherty
Baker, California

Posed nicely out on Dumont Dunes near Death Valley, Dougherty added a few mods to his rig, but probably not the ones you're thinking of. The Vortec V-8 and four-speed transmission are stock, while the suspension has airbags, and the wheels are six-lug aluminum shod with BFG Land Terrains. Other additions are multiple planks, a tall jack, compressor with a large air tank, numerous straps and chains, and a set of Mobil 1 shovels.

Photo 17/36   |   2001 Gmc Yukon Xl front Side View
Steve Tucker
Sevierville, Tennesee

The suspension, wheels, and tires have been left stock, but Tucker definitely tinkered with the powerplant. The engine got a Superchip, along with a Borla exhaust and K&N Filtercharger for better breathing. Adding to the visuals are a ram-air hood, paint-matched bed cover, and tinted windows. How fast does she run now?

Photo 18/36   |   2003 Ford Svt F 150 Lightning front Side View
Alex Diaz
Parker Dam, California

2003 Ford F-350Packing a 6.0-liter diesel under the hood, Diaz focused his attention on outfitting this beautiful blue oval with a four-inch lift kit and Explorer Pro-Comp ES3000 shocks (dual in front and single in the rear), and he finished it off with limo-black tint all around. Diaz uses Big Blue for cruising around town, off-roading, and the occasional boat tow. When you live in Parker, you need access to a boat. We have some fond memories of time well spent at Blue Water.

Photo 19/36   |   2003 Ford F 350 front Side View
Owen McNiff
Camp Humphreys, South Korea

When he gets a break from defending our country, McNiff uses his 8.1-liter, Allison five-speed automatic-equipped GMC as a daily driver. What he really enjoys, though, is hauling his bikes, off-roading, and pulling other vehicles out of ditches and snow. What we want to know is, how's the off-roading in South Korea?

Photo 20/36   |   2001 Gmc Sierra 2500hd 4wd front Right View
Steve Scott
Georgetown, Ontario, Canada

4x4 Off-Road Quad-Cab Shortbox SportThat is sure a mouthful, Steve. Working with an already stout drivetrain, Scott added a K&N air filter to the 5.9-liter V-8 and capped it off with a nice Flowmaster exhaust system. The suspension came ready to rock, so a set of BFG All-Terrains were added for better bite. A bedliner, hard tonneau, vent visors, and tinted windows finish off this Ram, 1500 SLT 4x4, Quad-Road, Short-Cab...just kidding. To answer your next question, no, he doesn't actually tow 727s.

Photo 21/36   |   2001 Dodge Ram 1500 Slt front Side View
John Filias
Manchester, Massachusetts

Coming out swinging with a big V-10 under the hood, this Ford's got a factory automatic transmission and stock 4x4 suspension. Filias then tossed on some American Racing Wheels, shod with a set of Toyo Open Countrys. Helping the engine is a K&N air filter and a Flowmaster dual exhaust, while a Lund visor, bug deflector, and bull bar keep almost everything out of Filias' face. The only thing we ask for next time is more snow.

Photo 22/36   |   2002 Ford Lariat F 350 Crew Cab front Side View
Jerry Donakowski
Arnold, California

This Ford truck comes cocked, locked, and ready to rock. Donakowski's Power Stroke turbodiesel dualie is putting out--get this--410 horsepower and 785 pound-feet of torque. Attaining all this extra pop was accomplished by adding a four-inch Magnaflow exhaust with a Dynamaxx racing muffler, AFE air cleaner, and a Superchips Max micro tuner. A six-speed manual transmission, heavy-duty suspension, and 19.5-inch aluminum wheels get this rig rolling, and a nine-foot bed comes in handy when Jerry hauls his 16,000-pound fifth wheel.

Photo 23/36   |   2001 Ford F 450 4x4 front Side View
Gary VanDerMolen
West Chicago, Illinois

This is one righteously red Ram. The Cummins turbodiesel, transmission, suspension, wheels, and tires are stock; it's the exterior that got the full treatment on this radiant rig. Starting from the top, VanDerMolen added a moonroof, a power-sliding rear window, and Mopar bedrails. The grilleguard, tube steps, hitch step, and bed have all been sprayed with red Rhino Linings bedliner. Did we mention this is one really red ride?

Photo 24/36   |   2003 Dodge Ram 2500 4x4 front Side View
Dan Whitford
Shullsburg, Wisconsin

Leaving the suspension and transmission stock, Whitford added a K&N air filter to the stock 350, a set of VentShield window visors, and did we mention a full interior Coachman conversion? That's right, this rig now has multizone heat and air-conditioning, two separate stereos, a 12-inch color TV/VCR combo, seating for seven, and a third-row bench that folds into a full-size bed.

Photo 25/36   |   1999 Chevrolet Express side View
Philip Cilano
Saugus, Massachusetts

The stock 3.3-liter V-6 got a K&N air filter and a Tornado to help add a bit of pep, while the exterior received runningboards, fender flares, tonneau cover, bedliner, and BFG Long Trail T/A tires. Work and play is what he uses his truck for; play on, Philip.

Photo 26/36   |   1999 Nissan Frontier front Side View
John Bloomquist
Minneapolis, Minnesota

Trying to get a bit more bang for his buck from his stock 4.0-liter, Bloomquist bolted on Borla stainless headers with a Gibson stainless cat-back exhaust, along with a Jacobs ignition and plug wires, finishing with a K&N air filter. Inside, Bloomquist added tint all around, a booming Blaupunkt stereo, Grant waterproof seat covers, and a Kidde fire extinguisher, just in case.

Photo 27/36   |   1991 Ford Explorer Eddie Bauer front Side View
Ron DuBois & Son & Sons & Son
Millinocket, Maine

DuBois' daily driver packs a 7.5-liter V-8. The F-250 was outfitted with air horns, a billet grille, Rancho shocks, dual exhaust, and a camper shell. When he and his sons aren't using their Ford for work, it's loaded up for playing, hunting, fishing, and vacationing--a true multipurpose vehicle.
Photo 28/36   |   1997 Ford F 250 Hd front Side View
P.J. Thalman
South Florida, Florida

Leaving the transmission, suspension, wheels, and tires stock, Thalman focused his attention on the engine and exterior looks of his rig. A K&N cold-box kit feeds the V-6 cool air, while the SS cat-back exhaust keeps everything flowing nicely. A billet grille, bull bar, rollbar, bug deflector, and a diamond-plate bed finish off this totally tough Toyota.

Photo 29/36   |   2002 Toyota Tacoma Pre Runner front Side View
Shawn Nix
Steele, North Dakota

With all the hauling he does, Nix was looking to get a bit more power out of his stock 5.9-liter Cummins diesel. He added a K&N air filter, TST power max competition programmer, Bully Dog injectors, Jacobs exhaust brake, and a Tekonsha voyager brain controller. He left the factory trans and 4x4 suspension stock, for now.

Photo 30/36   |   2000 Dodge Ram 2500 4x4 front Right View
Brian Powell
Elida, Ohio

Even with 111,000 miles on the clock, this clean machine still looks as intimidating as it did when it first rolled off the showroom floor. Powell added American Racing wheels and a set of BFG Long Trail T/As, creating one fantastic family hauler; with five kids and a lovely wife, the Powells need the size this rig provides.
Photo 31/36   |   1996 Gmc Savana front Right View
Tim Peterson
Lake City, Florida

Outfitted with 33-inch BFG Mud-Terrains, Tuff Country suspension including a 2.5-inch leveling kit, and Flowmaster mufflers, Peterson's Dodge is ready for just about anything. Pulling trailers and off-roading are what Peterson uses this Dodge for, but we have to ask, where's the beef?

Photo 32/36   |   1998 Dodge Ram 2500 front Side View
Shigeru Suzuki
Concord, California

Being a volunteer with the Concord police, Suzuki needed to take his V-8 Cherokee wherever it was needed. He outfitted his rig with Tokico shocks, Go Rhino! step bars and grille guards, Hella auxiliary headlights, and a K&N filter. Suzuki also added an amber rear light for added visibility at accident scenes.

Photo 33/36   |   1996 Jeep Grand Cherokee Limited front Side View
Sally & Don Wigton
Zelienople, Pennsylvania

We can't remember the last time we saw a rig this tricked out that was not only not strictly a show truck, but was a daily driver with 115,000 miles on it. This thing has everything you can think of: a fully tweaked Power Stroke turbodiesel, beefed-up suspension and drivetrain, interior mods to make it like a second home, and an exterior with a ton of bolt-on goodies. We wish we had the room to list them all.

Photo 34/36   |   1996 Ford F 350 Crew Cab front Side View
Shane & BJ Montey
Cleveland, Arizona

It's not what Shane's done to personalize this cherry Chevy--it's what little he hasn't done yet. After lowering their Silverado, the Monteys added some monster 20-inch Goodyears to fill the wheelwells. Modifications include a smoothed and painted bumper pad, Escalade door handles, billet step pads, custom roll pans, and a few other custom goodies. This isn't a trailer queen, but the Monteys use their Chevy for weekend cruising and car shows.
Photo 35/36   |   2000 Chevrolet Silverado Stepside side View
Steve Bilyeu
O'Fallon, Missouri

Bilyeu took his ordinary black Ford, added a bunch of goodies, and transformed it into the beauty you see here. Bolting on headers, pulleys, a 75mm throttle body, a 3-inch cowl hood, Mac intake, Harley grille and dash, Lightning lighting front to rear, and stuffing some OEM Harley-Davidson Edition 20-inchers in the wheelwells really sets this truck apart from the rest. If Batman had a Bat Truck this would be it--we love the grille.
Photo 36/36   |   2001 Ford Super Crew F 150 front Side View



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