SEMA Preview: Three Custom Trucks Worthy of the Spotlight

Tundra moto support 1 II

The annual monster custom auto show that is the Specialty Equipment Market Association Show in Las Vegas starts Nov. 5, and all the truck makers are getting their project trucks ready for the spotlight. But that's not as easy as you might think when thousands of companies are trying to do same thing.

We'll be there for the duration (SEMA runs through Nov. 8) looking for the best and most interesting vehicles we can find on the show floor; in fact, we've already heard about three pickups that should be quite interesting, with a few more from Ford and Chevy as well. Here's are a few pictures ahead of the big show but to see more of these trucks you can go to the Facebook page


Tundra Moto support 2 II

  • The first notable monster pickup truck is part of Toyota's Dream Build Challenge (to vote for this vehicle go to before November 4) for which Toyota invited four teams composed of professional extreme-sport athletes and custom fabricators to create some wild custom vehicles. The one we thought was most interesting was the giant Tundra built by Joe Gibbs Racing Motocross, N-Fab and professional motorcycle racers Josh Grant and Justin Brayton. The Tundra is specifically designed to be the ultimate support vehicle for a motocross team, with bike storage, a power washer and a tool shop.It even has a helmet and glove dryer. To read the press release, click here.


Ram Sun Chaser 1 II

  • Ram debuted a new half-ton project truck ahead of the SEMA Show: It wants to be the ultimate support machine for those who love the surf and sand. Called the Sun Chaser, the Ram 1500 Crew Cab's highlights are the RamBox equipped with an electric shower in the side storage box and the rear tailgate that has a cool integrated flip-up seatback to make the rear of the truck a comfortable seating area. To read more about the Ram Sun Chaser and other Mopar project vehicles that will be on the show floor, click here.


ICON_Thriftmaster 1 II

  • The last noteworthy vehicle is from Jonathan Ward of Icon 4x4 in Southern California, and its definitely falls into the "custom" category. You may remember the 1965 Dodge D200 Power Wagon we got to drive last year that was such an attention-getter at the 2012 SEMA Show. This early 1950s Chevrolet pickup restored modern creation from Ward looks to be another big spotlight grabber as well. Like the D200, the outside looks like a classic Chevy 3100, but underneath it is all late-model Corvette.

We'll have more stories and videos on these and all the other special pickups we find in Las Vegas next week.


Toyota Moto-Tundra Interior 

Tundra Moto support 3 II


Ram Sun Chaser Seat & Shower

Ram Sun Chaser 3 II

ICON 4x4 Chevy Thriftmaster Interior

ICON_Thriftmaster 2 II



A minor correction--the Ram Sun Chaser is a full Crew Cab, not the shorter Quad Cab. The Crew Cab with a 6.5' box is a new configuration for 2014, just like Chevy. (Ford's had it since 2006, but most people know that.)

Also, is that Moto-Tundra a CrewMax with an 8' bed still on a half-ton frame and axles? That doesn't seem like such a good idea.

Snap Dragon, you could get the Crew with 6.5 ft bed in 2013 as well although it had late availability.

That classic Chevrolet looks sweet.


@Ron: I'm assuming you mean as the new 2014 model. AFAIK, no Chevy half-ton has ever been available as a crew cab/6.5' box. The 1500HD doesn't count--it's literally a 2500 (non-HD) with a different badge.

It seems that there will soon be a new choice when it comes to half-ton pickups: crew cab, 6.5' bed or 5.5' bed? Everyone except Ford and Nissan has converted their extended cabs to shortened crew cabs. Ford has stated that they will keep the rear-opening doors for the 2015 model, but I'd be surprised if Nissan didn't change to a rear-opening door. I also predict that both Nissan and Toyota will offer crew cabs with the 6.5' box within three years. (Nissan's mule that's been spotted in spy photos was a crew cab/6.5 'bed, not that weird 7' bed.)

But history is repeating itself, in a way. From the late 40's/early 50's through the late 60's, half-ton pickups were generally a toss-up between 6.5' bed and full 8' bed; all regular cabs, of course. After that, the majority of half-tons (and 3/4 tons, for that matter) were 8' bed. Sure, Ford and Dodge had extended cabs in the mid-70's, but I really don't think it was until '88, when Chevy introduced theirs, that the extended cab/6.5' bed really took off. Reg cab/8' bed and ext cab/6.5' bed were about even until Ford and Dodge introduced 3- and 4-door cabs, then the ext cabs took over.

Between Ford's SuperCrew in 2000 and Ford and Dodge's new models in 2009, the crew cab/5.5' bed and ext cab/6.5' bed were about even. Then everyone started offering 6.5' beds on crew cabs, and now crew cabs are, what, 60% of all the pickups sold?

It's entirely possible that extended cabs might get pushed out of the market. Since Dodge's 2002 Quad Cab made it just a short-crew cab, and the 6.5' bed is now available on almost everyone's full crew cab, there's getting to be less and less of a good reason to buy one.

@ Snapdragon -- good catch on the cab setup. Fixed now. As to the Tundra, still has the 10.5-inch half-ton axle which may be pushing a truck that looks like it weighs about 9800 pounds, if not more. In fact, they had to add about three feet to the frame to make the eight-foot bed work with the CrewMax cab. They also swapped to HD Deaver springs to deal with the added weight.

Ho Hum, just more overpriced crap that the struggling American cannot afford anyway.

The Dodge Sun Chaser is one neat truck. You can't beat the 50's Chevrolet though. Those, the Task Force trucks and the 67 through 72's just win me over every time. I still think from the 20's ish era through the 70's square bodies with the single round headlights, Chevrolet had the best designs. The 400's were great too I suppose. The Toyota up top looks like it could go through some deep mud which is cool. Not much of a Toyota guy myself still. And did Toyota rip off my wife's F-150 interior or what? Wow. On that Dodge, those beds-boxes are trick. Ford needs to be offering optional composite beds with stuff like this built in. It's the wave of the future.

I'm liking all three, the best set so far in my opinion.

The motorcycle cargo concept for the Tundra looks nice, but would look better on the single cab edition. I hope it goes on sale.

The fold-out seat option on the Ram's tailgate is a winner. That could come in handy.

And the retro Chevy? Just wow. That truck reminds me of the Southern Motor Company retro pickup from a few years ago. Too bad the company went under before the truck could come to fruition.

Still hoping Jonathan Ward and Icon will do a retro Scout 80, though.

I like the Tundra concept for practicality, the unfortunate part about it is that there is really only room for one bike. All of the Expert racers I know tend to run more than one displacement class or have a back up bike.
An aftermarket box is superior to factory if one actually takes their truck offroad as they hold up to abuse much better.

The Ram is interesting and would be easy for a guy to set up themselves.

The Icon Chevy is out of this world and for us mear mortals complete unobtanium. pity.

Is this all there is? Not much from GM or Ford.

Since the biggest gripe with the Tundra seems to be the flexible rear frame, extending it 3 feet probably didn't help matters any. There is probably a fair bit of beaming going on a this point. The axle is plenty stout, however- its every bit as beefy as an old semi-floater (Dana)60 from a 3/4 ton. I think it will be interesting to see what happens to the heavy half-tons as fuel economy forces weight reduction. I think we'll see a class like the LD F250- which became the high capacity F150.

@ Mr Knowitall: That's what I'm hoping will happen. There's plenty of guys driving 3/4 ton trucks for towing that could "get away" with a heavy-half ton, but Ford's really the only one that offers it.

@greg - Ford always gets its own page ;)

I have never heard of line x before. Is it new or have they always been around? I dated a guy that was into custom truck beds in fontana CA when I use to live there. He knew everything about anything car or truck related.

I want the tundra

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