Back in the day when guys wanted more performance out of their cars, they had little to choose from as far as aftermarket performance parts went, and most of the time they had very little money. Most of the low-budget builds were focused on how much power they could get out of their six-banger. Custom paint and interior came second and last on their mind. Slowly, you could see one- and two-barrel carbs getting tweaked for more air and increased gas flow, then came the new cam, pistons, and exhaust upgrades as companies like Edelbrock, Cragar, and Isky popped up. Many early custom cars and trucks were modified for performance first and appearance last. Throughout the '40s and '50s as hot-rodder's across the country, particularly in California, had more disposable income, the cars and trucks started gaining more modifications, but this time they were cosmetic changes.
Still the question was, "Do I get a custom paintjob, or do I spend my hard-earned dollars on a new cam and lifters?" The compromise came in the form of choosing the performance parts over the custom paintjob and then hand painting some ultra-cool pinstriping on the cheaper black primer jobs that replaced custom lacquer paint. As time went on and the custom community grew, the creativity got wilder. Scallops appeared on the scene, as well as more pinstriping techniques, and flames in all colors started showing up on hoods and fenders. Pinup art became a favorite as well, being reminiscent of World War II airplane nose art.
Then, primer started to change color. Reddish brown became a second choice to the gray and black hues, as a means to differentiate one ride from another. When green and even yellow primer started appearing on the scene, it was instantly cool to roll suede. With the lack of funds to complete their cars and trucks, unknowingly these pioneers of the hot rod scene created a style of customizing now referred to as Rat rods, sleds, low-rods, bombs, and ranflas (Spanish for jalopy). We dig the style and thought it would be a perfect backdrop for this issue, which is dedicated to classic sport trucks and their own unique style. So, here are a few examples of how that budget-minded style has stood the test of time.
Danny Collazo of Las Vegas owns this cool, chopped '49 Chevy truck sporting the traditional gray primer that was freshly applied the night before the photoshoot in his garage. The truck was already primered before, but Danny wanted a fresh coat, so some quick sanding and filling in the low spots with some Bondo quickly made his '49 primer-ready. He primed it right in his home garage, after blowing all the dust and dirt out, using a garden hose to clean the floor. He then masked off the truck and sprayed it just like they did in the '40s and '50s. For guys like Danny, not much has changed since that era.
During this same evening, our project truck, an '02 Silverado called KingSpade was sitting in the driveway already painted flat black and 'bagged. Danny said something's missing-"Pinstriping," he shouted. So, as his other partner in crime, painter extraordinaire, Miguel Puente, was laying down the primer, Danny was bustin' out his pinstripe kit.
Within minutes, Danny was laying down the steady lines of the old-school pinstripe on the tailgate. Check out the Sport Truck website to see a bitchen video of it all happening.