By Larry Edsall
Editors can be so demanding. First, he says as long as I’m at the SEMA Show, he wants me to select a truck of the day.
I did, and even though the show ran four days, I actually picked five trucks because on my way to pick up my media credentials the day before the show opened, I walked past Bernt Karlsson’s Holden Ute, and I just had to share it with you.
You might recall my other truck du jour selections: Kyle Gann’s (aka K-Daddyz) F-150 FX2 and its custom cruiser bike; Winslow Bent’s restored and modernized Dodge Power Wagon; Jim DeLozier’s Chevrolet C-70 survival cell; and Gregg Ovist’s Bentley-ized Chevy Silverado.
But, no, that wasn’t enough to satisfy the editor. He also wanted a post-show Top Ten or Delightful Dozen or some other alliterative amalgamation of pickup trucks I saw at the show.
Before sharing my selections — let’s call them the Sweet Sixteen — I should share with you my criteria for including them.
First, I had to find them among the hundreds upon hundreds of vehicles that not only were displayed within the three huge buildings that make up the Las Vegas Convention Center but vehicles that also spilled outside the building, onto the various convention center parking lots.
Second, I had to find something about the truck that made me stop and take a second look.
Third, I had to be able to find some information about the truck. (Note to vehicle owners: If you’re proud enough of your pickup to display it at a car show, whether it's a big national show like SEMA or your local weekly cruise-in, make up some sort of display card that includes the year, make and model and either your contact info or a brief description of what makes your truck special.) I would have loved to include a few others I saw at the show, but I couldn’t find any details or even contact information.
So having said all of that, and excluding my trucks du jour, here’s my Fab 15 (+1) for 2012.
To celebrate its 60th anniversary, WD-40 had Chip Foose work some magic on this 1953 Ford F-100. The truck is an homage to the truck that delivered the first case of WD-40 back when the corporate name was the Rocket Chemical Co. The truck has a modern powertrain and suspension. After SEMA and some other West Coast auto shows, it will be sold at the Barrett-Jackson auction in January in Scottsdale, Ariz., with proceeds going to two children’s charities. (In 1969, Rocket changed its name to WD-40 Co.)
This is the ICON D200 Reformer, a project by Jonathan Ward at ICON and Gale Banks at Gale Banks Engineering. ICON started with a 1965 Dodge 200 crew-cab pickup (U.S. military ret.), but placed it on a 2006 Dodge Ram 3500 chassis, added Kore Baja Chase suspension, Hutchinson beadlock wheels, 37-inch BFGoodrich tires, a Parabellum bison-hide interior with Wilton wool carpets just like a Rolls-Royce, and an amazing JL Audio stereo. From Banks came a somewhat modified 5.9-liter Cummins turbo-diesel inline six that pumps out 975 pounds-feet of torque, making this both a refined and rather fast daily driver. For good measure, there’s a Triumph Bonneville motorcycle in the pickup bed. Watch our interview with Ward here.
Jeff and Jacob Matauch built this 1954 Chevy 3100. Jeff works for paint supplier PPG in Michigan. Earlier this year, the won the best truck award at the Detroit Autorama.
Before he joined the VWerks division of Venchurs Vehicle Systems in Adrian, Mich., Pat Muldoon was a development engineer at Chrysler and Mopar, where he helped create the Ram Runner, Chrysler’s answer to Ford’s Raptor. At SEMA, VWerks showed its answer to the Ram Runner, the Ram Baja KTS, which for around 10 grand (flared fenders, paint, lifted and Bilstein-shocked suspension, wheels and exhaust) gives you the look, if not quite the full off-pavement capability, of the more expensive OEM trucks.
Wild Diesel is a family-owned diesel repair shop founded in 1994 in West Haven, Utah, where Ken Jones also bases his truck-pulling team that competes in the United Truck and Tractor Edge Pulling Series with this 2010 Ram.
This 1970 Chevrolet C10 is Phil Gerber’s daily driver. If Gerber’s name sounds familiar, it’s because he’s part of the family behind The Roadster Shop in Chicago’s northern suburbs. If this C10 looks familiar, it’s because it was an exhibition entry into the Goodguys' Street Machine of the Year autocross this summer in Columbus, Ohio, where it would have won the competition had it been a car instead of a truck.
Give Swedish-born car builder Brent Karlsson with a wrecked 1994 Chevrolet Camaro Z28, and he’ll give you back El Camaro, a Camaro with an El Camino-style pickup bed instead of a backseat and trunk. To enhance the stance, Karlsson stretched the chassis more than 16 inches and widened the body four inches. Other modifications include a rear wing, shaved door handles and a Vortex supercharger atop the LT1 V-8.
If you like this 1956 Ford F100, you can bid on it in January at the Barrett-Jackson classic car auction in Scottsdale, Ariz. The truck is known as Obsession and was declared late-model (1953-72) truck of the year for 2011 by the Goodguys. Barry Blomquist built the truck over a three-year period.
Hot Rod Chassis & Cycle of Addison, Ill., built this 1955 GMC pickup for Bruce Singer. Power comes from a cross-ram LS7 V-8.
The Little Red Express is Mopar’s updated version of the classic Dodge of yesteryear. Components include a Mopar performance hood, 22-inch Mopar wheels — Hyperblack with gold insets — Katzkin leather interior, Hyperblack painted grille inserts and, of course, those big and bed-mounted exhaust stacks.
Rich Gengo’s 1951 Dodge B-3-B was a beater when he started resurrecting it. But earlier this year, it won the Top Eliminator honor at the Carlisle Chrysler Nationals in Pennsylvania. The cab and frame are original, but the frame was shortened and Z’d and boxed to fit in a 1960s-style bed. The wheel wells were extended four inches so the oak bed floor could remain flat. Power comes from a 400-cubic-inch-displacement Mopar V-8. Paint is Mopar Intense Blue. Wheels are Centerline Convo Pros. The truck also has power windows, tilt steering column and air conditioning.
This 2011 Ford SVT Raptor was showcased on what is basically a bed of nails at the Toyo Tires stand at SEMA. By the way, those are Toyo Open Country A/T II 35x12.5OR20 tires on nine-inch BMF stealth black Rehab wheels. Body mods are from Addictive Desert Designs with Rigid Industries lights. A Roush supercharger boosts the engine’s output to 590 horsepower, as thre's a Roush off-road package and Icon Vehicle Dynamics stage 2 kit.
Pacific Performance Engineering of Fullerton, Calif., was founded in 1985 to enhance the performance of diesel engines. It brought to SEMA this fairly stock-looking — except for the hood, gorgeous paint and wheels and tires — 1975 Chevrolet C10. What you don’t see is under that bulging hood: PPE Hot+2 E.T. Race Tuner computer, wiring harness, GT4094 turbocharger, dual fueler and specially built Allison transmission. It’s gone without all the gaudy show of so many aftermarket builds.
Cope Design of Denver used to use Scott Anderson’s 1950 Chevy as its shop truck, but then his Cope Design partner Robert Thompson Jr. went to work on it and turned it into this showstopper. In addition to Thompson’s artwork, the truck has a 502-cid engine and a custom interior.
Lonny Spiva’s 2012 Ram Blue Collar Express has Belltech front and Kelderman rear air suspension, JBA performance exhaust, Katzkin interior, Schott performance wheels, Cooper tires, AFE fresh air and a Line-X bedliner, and there are Renegade Wheels on the big bike in the bed. (Note to truck owners: A motorcycle or even a bicycle in the bed is a great way to get your truck noticed.)
This is Jim and Martin McLaughlin’s 1956 Chevrolet 3100 and came to SEMA from Canada. The yellow color is from the 1999 Corvette pace car. The engine and transmission are from a 1996 Chevy Impala SS. The differential is out of a 1980 Trans-Am. Rear suspension is custom four-link. Front frame clip is from a Camaro. The tailgate is power-operated. The interior comes from a 1996 Chevy Silverado with but with Trans-Am-style leather. American Racing wheels are 18s in front and 20s at the rear.