The greatest custom trucks are never really finished. It's true. The ones that really push the limits of creativity, ingenuity, engineering, and style end up becoming constant works in progress because they break new ground, venturing into territories of truck customization that few others would dare to enter. This means that these trucks end up getting built, road-tested, and tinkered with, and then, maybe then, they'll get blown apart to be dressed up for show. Lots of them never make it that far, and it's rare that they make it past the initial planning, build phase, and testing to the promised land of paint and interior work. We're cool with that. Most times, it's the unfinished truck stashed in someone's home garage or in a dusty corner of a shop that really appeals to our sense of custom. With so many cookie-cutter customized trucks rollin' today, it's the ones that usually never see the light of day that end up being innovative.
Here are four new rides that fit the bill and have at least a shot of seeing the road and the show circuit one day. Each one carries weight in the world of horsepower, styling, and fabrication. But each one also leads by a different example, bending the envelope of coolness and possibility in a different direction. Some flex big-time body mods, while others are a testament to the skills of the fabricator behind the custom frame work. No matter what the case, each will give inspiration to anyone looking to build a truly killer custom sport truck.
Richard Martella doesn't build custom trucks. He finds and raises great cows and sells them from his dairy farm. He's good at it, and the prospering business has allowed him to build two radically modified Chevy C10s.
The first build didn't go so well. In fact, after the first truck was "finished," he ended up with a crooked custom that appraised for exactly $8,000, which was really unfortunate since he had just paid more than seven times that amount to have it built. Although the buildup transpired right in his hometown and he had the time to check out his truck while the work was being done, since he didn't really know what he was looking at he couldn't see the obscene acts of customization happening to his ride. He ended up with a truck that was literally crooked: The roof and hood were chopped and welded back onto the truck more than a quarter inch from where they should be. A quarter inch doesn't sound like much, that is until after a truck is painted and you stand back and really stare at it-then it stands out like a dude wearing plaid pants to his brother's wedding.
Richard was despondent but not completely deterred from hoping to own a great C10. After all, it was the truck he had wanted since he was a kid. The desire was still strong to have a special truck to cruise in on the weekends, with his wife there to enjoy the good times.
At the suggestion of a friend, Richard contacted Bob Grant at Grant Kustoms in Oroville, California. Bob's shop was nowhere near Richard's hometown, but he made the trek there with a fresh and stock C10 in tow just to see what Bob was all about. After talking about the new vehicle and what happened to the old one, he left the truck in Bob's capable hands with a few simple instructions and went back home feeling confident. Richard made a huge leap of faith after getting burned on his first custom truck build. He trusted Bob enough to green-light another build without a budget while giving Bob free rein to do whatever he wanted to the truck. Bob's got to be a hell of a salesman because that's more trust than most people give to family members, especially when you consider the time and money Richard had already lost on his first project. The current build has been ongoing for over three years now, but Richard says he's more than happy with the progress and work thus far.
The body mods put this truck on our cover. Richard admits that he doesn't know much about trucks and says it's better to let the builder decide what should be done. His only stipulation was that he wanted to drive this truck and not just show it. with that in mind, the Grant Kustoms crew stretched the C10's cab, which is notoriously short on legroom, to give Richard plenty of room inside. The other body mods aren't all that subtle, but their execution is so clean that non-C10 enthusiasts might not spot them right away. The bed has been reshaped to give the rear profile a rounded look that matches the chopped and reskinned cab. The hood and fenders have also been molded together to allow Grant to add inner fenderwells to the bodydropped truck. The hood opening was then recut to match the hand-fabbed grille and shell. Look again and you'll probably notice the cowl is missing but also that the hood and fenders have been peaked upward to flow with the truck's natural upper body line. The list of body mods keeps going for days. From the inside of the bed, which has been smoothed and bead-rolled, to the interior, which received a modified Chevy Impala dashboard and custom console, this truck is as custom as it gets.
Richard's Chevy isn't all show though. Grant Kustoms also crafted a tube chassis that is shorter in height than the stock one, which allows the body to sit right on the tarmac when the air is released from the suspension. This combination gives the truck a ridiculously low stance and a smooth ride. The ride gets even wilder when you factor in the 400-plus horses of LS1 power under the hood that is transferred to a 9-inch rearend via an Aod transmission.
We know Richard can't wait to mash the go-pedal in this bad boy, and we can't wait to see how it all comes together next year when he's finally out cruisin'.
Richard Martella / Hanford, California
'67 Chevy C10
Corvette LS1 / electric fuel pump / headers with 2.5-inch collectors / Currie 9-Plus rearend / 4L60E automatic overdrive transmission / Optima YellowTop battery / lengthened stock driveline
BY: Grant Kustoms, Oroville, California
Front: Boyd Coddington 20x10 Junk Yard dogs with 2 inches of backspacing
Rear: Boyd Coddington 20x12 Junk Yard dogs with 6 inches of backspacing
Front: 285/30ZR20 Michelin Pilot Sport
Rear: 335/30ZR20 Michelin Pilot Sport
Front: '72 Chevy C10 front crossmember /chrome-plated, tubular A-arms / 3-inch drop spindles / Slam Specialties RE-7 airbags / Bilstein shocks
Rear: Parallel four-link with Panhard bar / Slam Specialties RE-6 airbags / Bilstein shocks
Accessories: GC 350 1/2-inch valves / two viair 380 compressors / aluminum fuel cell / four-wheel disc brakes
Chassis: Custom-made 2x4x1/4-inch mild-steel tube chassis that's been smoothed and capped
BY: Grant Kustoms
Cab stretched 5 inches / front end pinched 3 inches / reskinned doors / reshaped roofline with 2-inch chop-top / deleted cowl / custom hood and fenders / custom grille and shell / custom wheeltubs, firewall, and inner fenderwells / Jeep Commander headlights / reshaped rear of the bed / custom cut-down Led Nissan Frontier taillights / stock floor body drop
BY: Grant Kustoms
'59 Impala dashboard blended into custom doors / custom center console for gauges and air controls that surrounds bucket seats / reskinned headliner
BY: Grant Kustoms
The guys at Grant Kustoms, Zac, Matt, Robert, usty and Bob, Max at Bio Kustoms, Jeff Cooper, teve Nielsen, Slam Specialties, KP Components, C valves, and Suicidedoors.com