"I will drag this truck on the highway until the skidplates run out and bring it to a show
Back in the May '04 issue of Sport Truck, we had a contest for all the low-budget builders to come forward and show their creations. The contest was called the Low-Buck Challenge because there was a rule of spending no more than $6,000 for modifications. From the announcement to the end of the challenge, you had five months to build your bottom-dollar truck. Once the entries came in, our panel of judges picked a winner, based on creativity, craftsmanship, and unique style.
The Grand Prize Winner was to receive a feature in Sport Truck magazine and a $1,000 J.C. Whitney gift certificate. The prize was enough to have entries flocking in, and the staff was hard-pressed to pick a winner. It came down to two features, and by the photos, Jonathan Hoffman had the better-looking truck for the amount spent. Surprisingly, his truck was very nice, considering he spent less than the given amount of the challenge. His truck was awarded the Grand Prize, and Jonathan was given the gift certificate.
If you've never heard of this contest, don't feel left out. It went on three years ago, and most of the current staff was oblivious to the challenge, as well. Just after Jonathan's truck was picked, the staff went through a major overhaul with a change in editors. During the transition, the feature promises were put on the sidelines, and it wasn't until Jonathan started contacting us that we realized this man was owed his magazine time. Just as promised, here is Jonathan Hoffman's truck for its feature.
This '92 Chevy is the second S-10 that Jonathan has owned. The first of the two was a '91 that his parents bought for him. It needed some major help to get it up and running, but Jonathan didn't care because it was his own ride. At the same time, Chevy introduced the sporty turbocharged Syclone that was based off of the same style of truck. It was an instant hit with him, and it became an inspiration while he was repairing the '91.
Jonathan was proud to pilot this truck around. Then, exactly five months later, he was rear-ended while stopped for a red light. The rear of the truck and the frame were damaged so much that the insurance provider for the other driver totaled it out. Jonathan got his settlement check and went on to find his next project truck. Through a classified ad in the local paper, he found this '92 S-10 on a nearby farm and bought it. With his father's help, they got it in a good running condition and painted it red. Since everything was low-budget, Jonathan bought a used set of 15-inch Iroc wheels with stock tires and cut the springs to lower it down a bit.
Since there were a lot of hours repairing the truck, Jonathan got into the mechanics of vehicles and decided to further his automotive knowledge after graduating high school. He left his parent's nest to study everything about working on cars, 14 hours away, at Universal Technical Institute in Glendale Heights, Illinois. While there, he realized his father's advice on cutting the springs was not the best way to lower the S-10. As soon as he was able to buy some air suspension parts, he fabbed up a system for his truck in the cramped space of his apartment garage.
In his last semester of college, Jonathan became homesick to work with his father in the roomy garage of his parent's home. Once he graduated from UTI, he moved home to spend some quality garage hours. From what he learned at school, Jonathan knew his Chevy was in desperate need of a revamp. When he and his dad first painted the truck, they failed to fix all the rust and other body damage. Also, the pieced-together suspension needed reworking for a smoother ride.
To fix all of these areas, Jonathan made a plan to completely rebuild the Chevy. At the same time, his mother ran across our Low-Buck Challenge and told Jonathan that he should enter because he was already building his truck on a budget. Once he found out about the contest, it pushed him forward to buy up the parts to finish the truck. He and his father started by making custom control arms up front and installing a four-link in the rear to fit his new 20-inch wheels. Then, to keep the rear of the frame rigid, Jonathan made a solid bridge between the step notches and smoothed out the back half of the frame.
The second biggest part of the rebuild was the body and paint. Since Jonathan was the only one to work on the truck besides his father, it was very hard for him to trust anyone to do anything to it. That's why the first time around the two of them painted the S-10 themselves. From that experience, they learned how paint and body was not their specialty, and someone else was going to be needed to perform this operation. Jonathan had a friend named Ziggy Poteralski, who was practicing to be a big-time professional painter and needed a vehicle to practice on. Since he was a friend who could be trusted, Jonathan agreed to have him shave and paint his Chevy. Of course, the best part of the deal was a good paintjob done at no expense to Jonathan.
At this point, the truck was looking pretty sweet and without having to spend too much on getting him there. Jonathan entered our little contest and found himself the winner, getting the J.C. Whitney gift certificate. As you can see, our Low-Buck Challenge set out to find the best low-budget custom truck, and it did just that. Even though a lot of our feature trucks are wild, with a lot of money spent on them, this truck goes to show that you can build a show-worthy truck on a budget.