Building a sport truck is a challenge any way you look at it, and building one within a time and budget limit is even more of one. But sometimes you need a challenge to get into the garage to finish your project. As a great blues composer once said, "I don't need more time, I need a deadline."
That's pretty much how it worked for our Low-Buck Challenge champ, Chris Quesada. This Riverview, Florida, sport truck enthusiast is married, has two daughters, and sells electrical supplies by day and works on his toys at night. He says his schedule is full, so the deadline imposed by the Sport Truck magazine Low-Buck Challenge kick-started the project '87 S-10 he bought early in 2003.
Quesada says his serious obsession with airbrush art and paint started as a teen and continues to this day. He's pretty good with it, prompting more than a little suspicion when we first saw the photography of the finished project. But after a phone interview, we're convinced of his amateur status. That status, his detailed build diary, the consensus of our judging panel, and the fact that he built the coolest custom sport truck submitted, makes him the winner of the first-ever Sport Truck magazine Low-Buck Challenge.
Here's how he says he did it.
Runner-Up: Barry Hilderbrand's '76 Chevy LUVFun-To-Drive Styling Magic For Less Than Three Grand, Including the Price of the LUV!Barry Hilderbrand of Douglasville, Georgia, says he bought this '76 Chevrolet LUV pickup for $400 to get better gas mileage than the 1-ton he was driving. A couple of months after he bought it, he saw our contest and decided to get busy with the truck and enter. He didn't have $5,500 to spend on the truck, so he needed to figure out a way to come in way under that limit.
The owner reports the finished project gets 23-24 mpg, has working air conditioning and an auto tranny, and the black-and-gray-tweed interior hides dirt well and looks good. He drives it daily and has driven it to several shows in Florida and Tennessee, won a few trophies, and always wows the crowd with his great-looking sport truck. He says people find it hard to believe he didn't spend more money on the truck, a fact that just makes it more fun to drive.
To restyle the interior, he first took it apart, then wire-brushed the floor and painted it with POR-15. The headliner color was freshened with Plasti-Kote vinyl dye, and he used Rusoleum on all metal parts and the doorjams. He installed floor insulation and a floor mat dash cap, new windshield weather stripping, and a new stereo before having the windows tinted. Total expense for the interior: $840.
He began the restyle of the body by smoothing the bumper and installing a front spoiler from an S-10. He filled in the side marker lights, cut the hooks off the bedside, removed the exterior bed latches, and built a roll pan and installed it. He then took it to Peach State, a local car painter, and with a coupon, got the advertised special DuPont enamel paintjob for $350. He paid an additional $200 for bodywork to get a smooth black pickup for $550. He rolled on the bedliner ($100) and painted the flames himself in a weekend, then had a friend pinstripe them. Paint and tape for the flames ran $200.
Wheels and tires cost $575. He got the 16x7-inch stock '98 Chevy Sliverado wheels from a recycler for $200. The front-mounted 195/50R16s and 225/55R16 tires mounted on the rear cost $380. He also spent $25 for lowering blocks, $40 for new U-joints, $20 on brake hoses, $115 to get the A/C working, and $55 to have it aligned after lowering the front.
When you add it all up, Hilderbrand spent a total of $2,985 for this cool little cruiser.
Low-Buck Challenge 2004We Had So Much Fun With The First One We're Thinking About Doin' It AgainBecause of the overwhelming response, we're thinking of repeating the Sport Truck Low-Buck Challenge in 2004. We wish we could feature all the worthy contenders, or at the very least give some honorable mention to those who entered and completed project trucks. If you're interested, have any ideas on rule changes, or any other suggestions, visit our Web site, sporttruck.com, e-mail us at email@example.com, or drop us a note at Sport Truck Magazine, C/O Low-Buck Challenge, 774 S. Placentia Ave., Placentia, CA 92870.