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.

This project '53 Ford F-100 has gone way further than Tony Jones ever imagined. Even though Tony grew up around wild customs and is a master pinstriper, he was only going to make a simple cruiser out of it. However, his son, Mike, had a very different outlook on the whole build. You see, Mike is the owner of Chaotic Rods & Customs, a shop that's well known for transforming everyday vehicles into show-stopping marvels. Seeing this truck's potential, Mike couldn't stand the thought of his father building a mild hauler.

Tony's main worry about going all-out on the F-100 was possible damage to it while driving: door dings in parking lots, pits in the paint from road debris, or even worse, someone crashing into it. Since Mike and his crew can fix almost anything, they assured Tony that if something were to go wrong, it could most likely be fixed. This was enough to convince Tony, and he handed over the keys and credit card.

With the truck at Chaotic, the crew threw out the tired old frame and replaced it with a set of rails from a second-generation Chevy S-10. This modern frame was chosen because it is easier to find parts for and is relatively simple to add air ride to. After the crew made some measurements, they figured all they had to do was shorten the chassis by 12 inches and fabricate some body mounts to get the doors on the ground. With the cab going that low, the running boards were ditched while the front fenders and grille had to be moved up. To line up the hood with the front-end shift, it was pancaked and the upper sheetmetal was moved forward.

The rear of the truck is a bit different as the only original parts that were reused are the fenders. The rest was created from raw sheetmetal to form a super-clean version of the original.

Just as the body is still in the works, so is the new motor. The chosen powerplant is a rebuilt 350-cid V-8 well equipped with Jegs aluminum heads, two Holley carburetors, and a Weiand supercharger. Once fully assembled and made operational, this Effie will practically fly down the highway.

Looking at the accompanying photos, you can already see the evolution of an old workhorse into a mean hot-rod pickup. It has taken a lot of work to get it this far, and until recently Tony had not seen it since he let his son take on the build. Even though he was not a part of the build process, several things were tailored for Tony's personal tastes. For example, the top of the cab won't be chopped since Tony is tall and likes to wear a cowboy hat. Also, the sound system will remain pretty basic. In the end, Tony will have a sweet custom ride built just to his liking, and he won't even have to break a sweat to get it.