Larry's Sweet 16 From SEMA 2012


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.


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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.)


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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.


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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.


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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.


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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.


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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.


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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.


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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.


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Hot Rod Chassis & Cycle of Addison, Ill., built this 1955 GMC pickup for Bruce Singer. Power comes from a cross-ram LS7 V-8.


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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.


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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.


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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.


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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.


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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.


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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.)


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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.



Thanks for the eye candy!!!!!!!!!!!

I haven't posted here in quite some time. Here is my review:

Thumbs UP to the 1970 C-10 and '56 3100 pickup.
Thumbs DOWN to the CRAPTOR.

@Michigan Bob I figured you'd say as much, even without your post.

I do not understand the need for 20" wheels on an off road truck. You need the larger sidewall for protection. Anything above a 17" wheel is insane. Anyone ever blown a bead? Sucks.

Nice trucks! The only DUD is the TROLL BOB!

Not to sound like an ungrateful reader, but what's with all the classics? To me these trucks are curiosities - the heart and soul of the accessories market is 20 years old or less. Maybe you go back to the 80's, but most of the guys I see running an 80's pickup are doing so because it's a great platform for a redonkulous lift or slam.

Or am I wrong? Is everyone into trucks for the 50s, 60s, and 70's but me?

Wow, some REAL Chevrolet trucks! Not the trash they've been churning out for the last 10 years. Chevy may suck ass now they didn't used to.

My vote go's for the Ram Baja KTS...nice truck.

My vote go's for the Ram Baja KTS...nice truck.

heres my $.02 worth, 1. the Ram Runner. 2. the ICON PW and 3) new Little Red Exp. and the plain Jane 75 C-10 sleeper is nice . Where are thos tremendous Tacco's (food court)? and the tundras? and lets face it, there are no Japanese classics.

Every one of those picks are awesome!

I like all of the old trucks from the 70's on back. Once one gets into the '80's it all depends on make, model, and year.
The Toyo display (Raptor on nails) is cool but basically is a play on the old guru laying on a bed of nails. Weight spread over many nails equals zero punctures.

The Raptor with 20 inch wheels? C'mon how stupid!

How the heck can you air down with such glitter wheels?

Ever notice why off-road trucks and desert racing trucks DO NOT have that size rims?

More tire is ideal for air down that gets better traction and those rims are begging to get struck off-road and damaged!

I would rather get a cut tire than damage a rim, good luck with that show vehicle!

Note: nice rear shocks hanging that far down and exposed on their own like that...

The C-10 road racer rocks! Saw that at Road America as I was the official starter for the Optima event!

@oxi. Don't hate. Isn't that what you are always preaching. That Raptor is more truck than you could handle...........oh wait, you drive a Taco with 159 hp / 180 lb-ft with a snorkle in the middle of surburbia.

The 70 Chevy reminds of some good friends I grew up around. They both had 69-72 Chevies, but the younger brother had the long bed. Some suspension and engine parts of the old street stock racecars made it onto the trucks, and and I know the long bed one ran away from atleast one Trans Am around windy roads with their dad driving it. The long bed one had a 402, the shortbed stepside one had a 454. Good times..well, except for the 454 kept breaking 4 speeds.

Nowadays, the younger brother is quite the dirt track racer and chassis settup man. The older brother lost a fight with cancer, and was an outstanding driver himself. RIP, DWT!

@Lou-I too like all the old trucks from the 70s and back regardless of brand. That blue 51 Dodge is cool. I do like the Carmaro El Camino, really a nice conversion for a wrecked car. It is great to see an old truck that has been sitting out in a field or an old beater restored and converted into a work of art. I could easily spend a day looking at these trucks and enjoying every moment. I would love to see all these trucks in person.

Nice trucks! The only DUD is the TROLL BOB!

Posted by: Frank | Nov 8, 2012 12:19:55 PM

Whatever you want to call me is fine Frank. I could care LESS what anyone in here thinks of me, especially YOU. I guess it takes a troll to know a troll. You have been labeled a troll by a few people here. OK, now go drink your big tall glass of STFU and sit down in the corner with your DUNCE cap on.

@unbiased Ford guy,

My old X-Runner could do more than that Raptor!

Go REAL off-roading with 20 inch rims and let me know how well that works out...

You know NOTHING about off-roading!

Race a Baja race and then come back to talk and just maybe I might listen to your childish cr/p!

On the subject of posting childish crap, Oxi - hows the reworked zombie apocalypse escape plan working out for you?

At Oxi....You fool, you know nothing about my off-roading skill or experience. I have read other posts you have made on other forums and your credibility is significantly lacking. The truth is you drive an econo-truck in surburbia cheeseville and pretend to be the king of off-road. That Taco you drive is outdated and nothing more than a road queen. Your are just like all those Hemi Motard goat hearders that troll this site putting down everything that is not what you drive. You claim to have all this knowledge about your truck, but have you ever been to NUMMI....Have you ever been to San Antonio where they are now built. Toyota is a great company, I know I am a former engineer at the San Antonio factory, in fact I was on the start up team. Toyota does not need a little man like you to promote their products with your poor engineered modifications to an otherwise decent truck.

WOW...I can't believe that you missed the radical 1950 Ford F-1 that was parked close to Bruce Singer's 1955 GMC (also a nice truck). That F-1 is about the nicest "effie" that I've personally had the privilege of looking at in person in about the last'd you miss that?

That bad boy has it all and then some!! It looks like the custom inner fenders were hand built, and the driver's side is removable for display as the sign board...that's clever! The front end tilts forward, the back end tilts backward. Everything in-between is either chromed, polished, or painted! Oh yeah, and just when you think that this is a no-go show truck, the show was over and the owner (or driver) fired it up and left an awesome 18" tire mark on the street as he headed out for the cruise. Again...can't believe that you missed that!!

Fortunately, someone else wasn't sleeping at the wheel, and you can view it here:

Thank you for the choosing my Blue Collar Ram for your sweet 16. I drive this Ram every day!

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