Sometimes all we need is the slightest of nudges to try something new. That's why you'll consider eating something totally disgusting just because one of your buddies says "I dare you." Well, that same sort of thing happens with body mods: Sometimes all you need is a little push to build up enough confidence to start cutting. This story is intended to get the gears in your head turning and hopefully release what is holding you back from modifying your truck.
1. Full Skin Graft
Check out this heavily modified, '99-style Chevy truck from Ekstensive Metalworks of Houston, Texas. The truck has been made into a unibody, and then a front clip and fenderwells from an '07 Tahoe were skillfully grafted into place. Bill and the crew at Ekstensive spent many an hour grafting new body lines on this truck. If you're a beginner, you might want to start with a simpler mod. Not only are the '07 parts expensive, but you'll really get pissed when you mess up and have to buy another fender.
2. Franken-GrillesTom McWeeney from Kustoms Inc. took elements from two different classic trucks to modify his first-generation S-10's front end. The headlights and surrounds were lifted from a '61 GMC, and the bumper is from a '67 Chevy. The fenders were modified to match the contours of the '61 headlights and the ends of the '67 bumper. The grille is a combination of the factory GMC letters from the '61 and stainless tubing Tom picked up from a supply house.
3. Roll The Front
For a simpler yet still good-looking mod, check out the front roll pan on Brian Clark's '67 C10. You can pick up these pans from companies like Mar-K or Brothers Truck Parts. Most of these will be bolt-on applications, but like Brian you can decide to weld yours in place. One thing you will have to do is cut off about 2 inches from the front framehorns, so keep that in mind before you order one.
4. Handle Swappin'
Here is a clean mod that won't mess with functionality. John Meyer from Clean Cut Creations in St. Louis welded in a set of Malibu door handles to replace the square units that were stock in John Collett's truck. If you are confident in your welding abilities, this is a mod for you. The Malibu door has the same curvature as the S-10, so all you have to do is worry about placement and welding it in without warping the doorskin.
5. Nose Job
Nate from Neighborhood Dreamz car club totally went for it and had a 300 front clip grafted to his Dodge Dakota. Sneaky Snake Customs went the extra mile and made sure the rear fenderwells matched up with the front. We are sure getting the body line matched was a chore in itself.
6. Bed Games
Inside the bed is a great place to add some custom bodywork, like Mike Finnegan had done to his C10. The crew at Scott's Hot Rods not only raised the floor to smooth it out, they also added a little trapdoor for storage. If you've dropped your truck so low that the axle encroaches into the bed, raising it is a great option. Also, look at the wheelwells. Instead of being replaced with round aftermarket pieces, these are the factory units that have been lengthened and raised. Keeping some factory lines next to your custom ideas is a sure-fire way to be called cool.
7. Get Some Implants
Dru's '91 Silverado not only shows what a full rear skin looks like, it also proves that taillights can be a factory piece used in a custom way. You can get combo skins (tailgate and roll pan in one) for some of the more popular trucks from companies like Grant Kustoms. These require a lot of welding. The Chevy's taillights are from a Range Rover. They fit nicely, and they show that adding parts from a different make can be cool if done tastefully.
Here's a good example of removing a body line. Lee from No Limit Customs in the greater Vancouver area of British Columbia shaved the upper body line from his dime. There are two ways to attack this mod. You can do it the simple way by just filling the line with body filler, but that could fall off. The second and much better way is to cut sheetmetal and weld it in the line and then use filler to smooth that.
9. Lose Your Top
Here is a good mod for the beginner who really wants to set himself apart. Cutting off the roof will be the easy part, making the filler pieces to cap the ends can be done by making simple patterns from cardboard and then transferring them to metal. Welding in the caps will take awhile, but if you take your time and stitch-weld them as opposed to welding in one pass, warpage will be minimal.
10. MMM... Pancakes!
Here is the sum of these mods. Tom Pagano's '56 F-100 has them all: chopped top, sectioned sides, and a full shave job. Another cool modification is the pancaked (flattened) hood. The before shot should give you a good idea of how much work that took. Pancaking requires not only welding skills but a good knowledge of metal manipulation with hammers and dollies.
11. Grandfather It
Kevin Aguilar's '00 S-10 has all kinds of fun stuff going on out back. For that retro look, he had Jose Rodriguez at Devious Customs graft in the center of a '60 Chevy tailgate to add the classic letters. Down below is a welded-in roll pan with frenched-in Model A Ford taillights. To complete this look, the factory taillights had to be shaved by welding in fillers from Sir Michaels. The tailgate mod required a lot of work because the old 'gate was wider than the S-10, so it had to be shortened to fit.
12. Shaved Smooth
This shot of Gabe's (red) and Cory's (orange) mid-'80s trucks really shows what shaving is all about. The red truck has been fully shaved right down to the Bow Tie in the grille; the orange truck still has everything. The trim, emblems, mirrors, and the driprails on these trucks are pretty easy to shave, only requiring you to fill-weld small holes. The door handles are a little harder because the hole will require a patch panel.