National Treasures
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.

Hugo Martinez, a longshoreman from Covina, California, has been an avid truck guy for some time now. Going to shows and seeing the custom trucks was one of those things that always put a smile on his face. The sad thing is that smile was short-lived as most of the trucks he was scoping out were fitted with big wheels and not much else. Knowing he didn't want to fall into this category, Hugo started looking for a shop to build his ride. As luck would have it, there was a shop building some sick trucks right in his neighborhood. Chassis by Aaron Iha has built some pretty high-profile trucks with some very innovative ideas worked into the suspension. This is just what Hugo was looking for: a shop that could turn his truck into an eye-catcher.

After the initial meeting with Aaron and crew at the shop, a deal was struck and the truck was torn down to its bare frame. To build a suspension to lay out on a set of 26s is impressive in itself, but Aaron knew Hugo wanted more than just that. So up front, 'bags were mounted and new control arms were fabricated from scratch. The arms were designed to minimize camber when laid out, and they were dipped in chrome for that show look: functional and good-looking-what a concept.

Out back is where things start to get interesting. Aaron took the factory rearend and converted it to an independent setup. That alone would be enough to get most people gawking, but since this truck is Hugo's the whole rear clip was made to unbolt so it could be chromed. To stand out amid all the shiny chromed pieces, the bulk of the frame was powdercoated in a deep candy red.

Such a frame setup would usually be enough, but going back to the "a step further" idea the sheetmetal received an '08 Escalade front clip. Instead of just bolting the front clip on the truck and ending up with mismatched body lines, Aaron retained some portions of the factory fenders to blend the lines for a factory look. The clip isn't the only mod on the body: handles have been shaved and the bed is fully skinned.

Obviously, the truck isn't finished yet, but we think once it's complete it will be one badass ride. Hugo is hoping to have the truck done soon so he can take it to events and show the big-wheel guys how it's done.

The 411

Owner/hometown:
Hugo Martinez / Covina, California

Year/make/model:
'01 Chevrolet Silverado

Engine/drivetrain:
5.3L Chevrolet V-8

Rims:
Front & Rear: A borrowed set of 26x10 Asanti 128

Tires:
Front & Rear: Falken S/TZ04 305/30/26

Suspension:
Front: Full-custom air / chrome-plated, custom-made upper and lower control arms with uniballs / modified factory front spindles / Slam Specialties HE-7 airbags
Rear: Full-custom IRS using factory 14-bolt Silverado housing / fabricated rear spindles / rear Heims / Fox coilover rear with custom airbag brackets / factory brakes moved inboard
Accessories: ASCO valves / two Viair 480 compressors / stainless steel braided air line / custom aluminum fuel tank
Chassis: 3x4x0.125-inch custom candy apple red powdercoated frame / chrome rear bolt-on 1-3/4-inch, 0.120 DOM subframe
BY: Chassis by Aaron Iha

Body Mods:
'08 Escalade front clip / everything shaved / full sheetmetal bed floor / FBI tailgate-skin/roll-pan combo / LED taillights
BY: Chassis by Aaron Iha

Custom Paint:
Plans include a deep candy red paintjob accented by a silver-leaf detail.

Interior:
Plans for a full tan leather interior with a sheetmetal dash that flows into a center console

Audio/video:
Plans include four 12-inch subs in a custom box (or possibly in the console). The rest of the stuff will be figured out when the time comes.

Club:
N/A

Special Thanks:
Hugo wants to give a huge thank you to the crew at Chassis by Aaron Iha for taking his ride a step further.