Custom is a word that is tough to define when it's used to describe a sport truck. This is because what is custom to one person might not be viewed in the same manner by another. That's because the art of customization is a subjective matter. Notice I said the word art and not act of customization. Make no mistake about it; customizing your truck to your individual style is indeed a form of artistic expression. Looking at a stock pickup and dreaming up ways to make it your own is really an art form. Not everyone has the gift for molding what the OEM truck manufacturers designed into an even better concept. Some people couldn't care less about how their truck looks and view it simply as transportation. Those folks probably don't read this magazine. On the other hand, lots of you take your artwork very seriously, which is why throwing the term custom truck around becomes a sticky situation, especially in a public place, such as a truck show.

The way I see it, there are two kinds of custom truck owners and only one of them really cares about the way the word custom is used. The first type of person owns a truck and might not have a ton of knowledge regarding the custom scene, but he's just as proud of the modifications he's made to his ride. Oh yes, there is a scene, and we'll get to that in a minute.Anyway, this guy reads all of the truck magazines, has bought all kinds of cool parts for his truck, and has put it together just the way he wanted it to look. He's lowered it, he's added the bangin' system in the cab, and he's had a good painter throw down some flames across the front clip. He doesn't belong to a truck club, so his only sounding board for the modifications he's made come from his wife, girlfriend, friends, or immediately family. In his eyes and theirs, his truck is custom-and it is.

The guys who belong to the second group of custom truck owners are a little different. They too have a vision of how their truck should look and perform, but they are willing to go much further to achieve that goal. Bolt-on parts will seldom get the job done, even if they are available, because these guys don't want their truck to be lumped in with the masses of trucks owned by guys in the first group. The second group believes custom doesn't come in a box, and you have to personalize every aspect of your truck, from the paintjob to the mounting brackets for the airbag suspension. Group No. 2 represents the hardcore side of the sport truck scene, which is mostly made up of independent custom shops and truck clubs.

Each of these types of customizers owns a custom truck, but they are playing on different levels; neither one is more important or better than the other, though. The sport truck world would be a whole lot smaller, if either one of these groups didn't exist. The problem is that sometimes the first guy's truck gets lost in the mix since the second guy's truck tends to overshadow it because he's spent more time or money to personalize it. Custom truck magazines are partly to blame for this phenomenon.

If you thought the whole custom truck world was represented by the covers of custom truck magazines or revolved around the few truck shows that are printed inside magazines like Sport Truck, then you are being misled, a little. Not every truck is body-dropped, has a multicolored paintjob, or is lifted 12 inches in the air just to clear a set of 46-inch Michelins. Those trucks are fantastic to look at but don't accurately represent what is really going on in our scene.

Our scene is not just made up of truck clubs and guys like me who spend all their money and time on making their trucks lower, louder, and faster than the rest. However, it is made up of people who love their trucks just as much as the rest but perhaps drive them every day, so they spend their money modifying areas that won't cause them to get a fix-it ticket on their way to work. This portion of our scene often goes relatively unnoticed, unless, of course, you pay strict attention to that small section of most magazines that has a title like Readers' Rides. This is where you'll find the everyday trucks, the ones you'll see on the highways and byways of this great nation and not on a car hauler or locked away inside a garage in the off season.

There's nothing wrong with truck magazines today or the way they portray our scene. We all love to gawk at the eye candy these magazines give us-even the guys in the first group-and our kind of candy happens to come in the form of a 'bagged, body-dropped sport truck with an incredible paintjob. Even if your truck isn't that low or that fast, you cannot deny the appeal of really cleanly executed bodywork, audio installations, or suspension modifications. That stuff is what dreams are made of, and we all like to dream from time to time.

Dreaming every month is all well and good, but the staff of Sport Truck is pretty well-rounded and appreciates all levels of custom. We've tried our best to show you the extraordinary in our pursuit of putting together the best magazine we can. To that end, we've put some pretty stylish and attainable trucks on our covers, as of late, and we even moved our Readers' Rides section of the magazine up front with the show trucks that garnered full features. We feel that if your truck falls into the readers' rides spectrum of custom that it's just as important as a truck that has been radically customized. Both kinds of trucks and owners deserve their 15 minutes of fame.

The reason I'm writing this column is to let all custom truck owners know that there's room for them in this magazine. If you have a mildly modified truck that you're proud of, then send me an e-mail with pictures of it and I'll get it into our new Homegrown Haulers section of the magazine. If you've been wrenching on a metal masterpiece for months or years on end, then do the same and send me an e-mail, even if it's not complete yet. Your unfinished ride might fit right into our Busted Knuckles pages. And if you have a truck that's been taking trophies from every show you drag it to, or you think it's on the verge of doing just that, then by all means, let me know about it and we'll see if yours is a ride that deserves a full feature or even the cover. Think about it. My e-mail address is at the top of this page. See ya next month.