9 Fine Trucks at SEMA '09

9 Fine Trucks at SEMA 2009
By Larry Edsall

The vehicle of the year at the 2009 Specialty Equipment Market Association automotive aftermarket trade show in Las Vegas has been, without a doubt, the new Chevrolet Camaro. We counted more than 60 of the so-called modern muscle cars on display in various states of modification.

Lament not, pickup enthusiasts, because there were dozens of customized pickup trucks inside and on the pavement outside the Las Vegas Convention Center.

Here are nine that we find to be fine:

No. 9: Scion xB Tuner Challenge by Brandon Leung

No. 9 Scion xB Tuner Challenge by Brandon Leung

OK, so technically it wasn’t a pickup when it rolled off a Toyota assembly line, but this Scion xB became a pickup by the time Brandon Leung was done making modifications, such as the ADF custom truck conversation and metal fabrication, custom billet front grills, dual exhaust and two-tone paint. There are similar changes under the hood, under the fenders (wheels, tires, suspension), in the interior and even a custom BOWLS bike in the bed.


No. 8: Truckster

No. 8 Truckster

Believe it or not, this vehicle (on display at the Painless Performance Products booth) was a 1978 Ford pickup when it rolled off an assembly line. A custom frame was created as a platform for part of that ’78 Ford body. The truck bed was replaced with one from a Model A pickup, and the original equipment engine gave way to a 1952 Mercury flathead. The grill is from a 1938 Dodge, the headlights are from a 1937 Chevy and the tail lamps are 1937 Ford.


No. 7: 1957 Chevrolet CamAir

No. 7 1957 Chevrolet CamAir

There wasn’t a Chevrolet El Camino until 1959, but had there been such a vehicle in 1957, it might have looked like this Chevrolet CamAir. Yogi Somerville of Calamus, Iowa, provides street rod, classic vehicle and custom truck accessories through Yogi’s Inc. and always seems to bring something interesting to SEMA. This year, it’s the CamAir, built by Randy Sell with body work by D&H Body, a big block 454-cid V-8 and other goodies.


No. 6: 1967 Toyota FJ45 Land Cruiser

No. 6 1967 Toyota FJ45 Land Cruiser

It's difficult to say whether this 1967 FJ45 project truck is unacceptable heresy or unconventional genius because under this classic Toyota wheeler hood lurks a 403-horsepower 6.2-liter V-8 donated from a 2008 Cadillac Escalade and paired with a GM 4L80 four-speed gearbox. It was built by BTB Products for trail crawling. As such, it's fitted with an Advance Adapter Atlas II transfer case, Dana high-pinion axles and ARB air lockers.


No. 5: 1980 Dodge D-50 Project Six Pack

No. 5 1980 Dodge D-50 Project Six Pack

John Farr liked this truck from the moment he saw it on the cover of Minitruckin’ magazine back in April 2000. He liked it enough that he tracked the six-wheeler down two years ago, finding it in “neglected” condition. Though he’d never undertaken an automotive restoration project, he and some friends went to work. The Project Six Pack name comes from Farr’s conversation of a couple of beer kegs into front seats. He had to rebuild the front chassis, installed a carbureted 1996 LT1-based powertrain, added 7,000 watts of Kicker audio equipment and that modified 1990 Dyno bicycle.


No. 4: Diamond T Diesel Hauler and Dodge Rat Rod

No 4. Diamond T Diesel Hauler and Dodge Rat Rod

Steve Darnell operates his Welderup hot rod shop out of Billings, Mont., and brought his 1947 Diamond T truck to SEMA with his 1928 Dodge rat rod riding on the truck’s tipping bed. Darnell started with the rusted shell of a 1947 Diamond T truck cab, which he mounted atop a 2006 Dodge Mega Cab frame. The tip bed went on the back and the Cummins diesel from a 1993 Dodge truck went under the hood. The rat rod started life as a 1928 Dodge sedan. Darnell used parts from everything from a John Deere tractor to a coal mining truck to complete the rod, which draws its power from another Cummins diesel, this one twin-turbocharged to nearly 700 horsepower – and reportedly capable of sub-12-second runs on the drag strip and yet some 25 mpg on the highway.

No 4. Diamond T Diesel Hauler and Dodge Rat Rod


No. 3: Dunkel Industries Luxury 4x4

No. 3 Dunkel Industries Luxury 4x4

According to their website, Peter and Danny Dunkel have achieved their childhood goal of “never having to stop because the trail was more than the RV could handle.” They’ve grafted together a luxurious, leather and wood trimmed motorhome, a “military-grade” Fabco 4x4 system, and the chassis of a Ford 750 Super Duty. The result: A truck that’s 8.5-feet wide, more than 11 feet tall and nearly 32 feet long. It seats 10, sleeps six and can haul all sorts of toys without a trailer.


No. 2: 1960 Peterbilt Model 351 "Pissed-Off Pete”

No. 2 Pissed Off Pete

Randy Grubb of Grants Pass, Ore., started with a 1960 Peterbilt Model 351 semi tractor capable of pulling around 80,000 pounds of cargo. Some 3,000 manhours later, he turned it into this polished aluminum hot rod truck that weighs in at 7,800 pounds and yet gets a claimed 15 mpg from its 12V-71 Detroit Diesel, topped with a 671 supercharger. The engine generates only 425 hp, but a stunning 1500 lbs.-ft. of torque through an Allison 740 four-speed automatic and Rockwell differential.


No. 1: 1947 Hudson Diesel Racer

No. 1 1947 Hudson Diesel Racer

This 1947 Hudson pickup is believed to be the first vehicle designed to be not only driven but raced by someone with quadriplegic disabilities. The truck was designed and built by Randy Simmons and his Robotics Integrated Technology company for Michael Ryan Pattison, who in 2005 lost the use of his arms and legs in a diving accident while in college. Pattison had been a high school athlete in the Seattle area. He’s regained movement in his shoulders and upper arm muscles, though he continues to maneuver his wheelchair with a mouth control. The Hudson, with an 800-hp, 7.3-liter Power Stroke bio-diesel fueled engine, also is equipped with a mouth-control system and is designed for land speed and even road racing.


Let me be the first to say.... WOW! I love 'em all. Pissed Off Pet and the big fantastic Diamond T and it's Rat Rod are my absolute favorites. Stunning. Thanks Mike!

I like them all except for the Scion and the Dodge D-50.
Good Job Mike!

No 9 & 5 are a mistake - there were more exciting projects than these.

The truck with diesels, I have already known about. They definitely get my vote for best of show!!

The Diamond T Diesle Hauler is amazing! Great pics here and great post!

check out www.acureiscoming.com to learn more about the hudson project and my foundation! thank you for all the support


Way to go M.R.!!!!! Vroom,vroom!!! You never cease to amaze us!!!! When you are walking(running!!) again, you will be UNSTOPPABLE!!!! You just keep on doin' what you do!!! WE are soo proud and feel so blessed to love you!!! The Goffins

sooo great, 10 out of 10 for this post.

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