There is something about our rare breed that attracts every gearhead to the line of custom trucks at any auto show. It may be the raised or lowered ride height, the tricked out bed, or the chopped top…to each his own. The freedom and variety of choice is one of the greatest things about being a fan of custom trucks. That freedom and variety allows builders to go in any direction they choose when building a custom truck. It also helps create some interesting works of art when all is said and done.
Since there is no governing body or set of rules to follow when creating a custom truck, we did not bother to form a set of rules or guidelines to follow when building our list. What we looked for was a ”badass” factor. That is defined as being a truck that makes you say, ”wow, that is badass” when looking at it. With that in mind, here are 15 custom trucks that gearheads (and even people who lack that particular superpower) can appreciate.
BroDozer first came to the public’s attention when it was featured on the Discovery Channels’ ”Diesel Brothers.” BroDozer is a monstrous Ford F-350 sitting on 54-inch Baja Claws. It takes military grade axles to withstand all of the hell the 6.7L Powerstroke diesel powerplant unleashes onto any terrain it wishes to tackle. Terrain that includes any smaller custom trucks that happen to be foolish enough to get in its way.
This custom truck is so badass that Chuck Norris had to give it a run. Watch as Chuck Norris, the King of Badass, smashes a Jeep with the BroDozer.
2. 1961 Ford F100
In 1961, the Ford F100 was a basic work truck. Generally powered by a 223 cu-in. ”Mileage maker” inline-six, the F100 was not on anyone’s list of cool trucks. The coolest upgrade the 1961 F100 featured was a unibody design for the first time.
This custom truck, however, comes equipped with 17-inch American Torque thrust wheels, a custom wood bed, leather bucket seats, vintage air conditioning, and Autometer gauges. Under the hood, there is a Ford big block 429cu-in. with an Edelbrock intake and 750 carburetor. The engine is paired with a rebuilt C6 gearbox and features a Ford 9 inch rear end. The truck sits on a Fatman Mustang II suspension up front and a 4-link Fatman out back.
3. Hennessey VelociRaptor 6×6
The Ford Raptor is a helluva truck without a single bit of aftermarket customization. Let Hennessey get a hold of it though, and you have one of the greatest custom trucks around.
Hennessey takes the basic Raptor four-door and adds 6×6 locking rear axles, an upgraded Fox suspension, equips a set of top-notch 20-inch wheels with off-road tires, changes out the front and rear bumpers before adding a rollbar and LED lights. Under the hood, buyers get a ”VelociRaptor 600.” This is a twin turbo upgrade that produces more than 600 hp. In addition to the twin turbos, you get a stainless steel exhaust, an upgraded front-mounted air to air intercooler, and a specially tuned computer. If you have enough cash on hand, Hennessey will add armor. You know, for those days when your neighbors may be spraying bullets in your direction.
4.1952 Ford F1
Not all truck customizations are extreme. Some of the coolest custom trucks feature mild mods like this 1952 Ford F1.
Under the hood, this baby features a 1974 351 Windsor with stock heads and finned aluminum valve covers. Air is processed through a Weiand intake with a Holley 750 carb. The exhaust makes its way through a set of shorty headers on its way through a 2-inch steel system that ends in Porter mufflers. The powerplant is mated to a Ford AOD gearbox. The rear end got a Mustang 8.8 inch with 3.55:1 gears. Out back, there is a triangulated four-link suspension with a Panhard bar. Up front, you will find suspension parts from a 1991 Ford Crown Vic, but the A-arms have been narrowed and Slam Specialties bags and Monroe tube shocks have been added.
5. 1952 International Harvester L-110
In 1952, the IH L-110 was the smallest International Harvester pickup available. It was powered by an underwhelming 220 cu-in. I6 that impressed no one. Despite its lackluster powerplant, a 1952 IH L-110 was a sharp looking truck. With one as a base, the boys at Korek Design went wild. They debuted their L-110, dubbed “8 Dollar Corn”, at the Detroit Autorama in 2016. 8 Dollar Corn stood out at the show by being something other than a Ford or Chevy, but custom trucks are about more than a pretty face. We all know that a custom truck has to offer punching power. To that end, Korek installed a Ford Boss 302 engine under the hood. The engine is paired to a six-speed Tremec transmission and the truck is stopped by Wilwood brakes.
6. The Blue Goose
Among the hotrodders in Michigan, and in other hotrodding circles, Bill Waddill is a legend spoken of in hushed tones. In 1953, Bill purchased a Chevrolet C3100 pickup to tow his hot rods from track to track. Being a hotrodder, he couldn’t be satisfied with the truck as it was, so he immediately chopped the top, flattened the hood, and repainted it a ”ghastly shade of blue,” according to his daughter Kathy Waddill Ridley. The paint job earned the truck the Blue Goose moniker. After inheriting the truck, Kathy repainted it white and installed a blue Italian leather interior. She also had the wood in the bed repainted a matching blue to keep a link to the Blue Goose name. Under the hood, she installed a 430 hp LS3 Corvette engine. With that engine, this custom truck will never be late to any place.
7. 1965 Chevrolet C10
To many gearheads, a custom truck isn’t finished unless it has a mirror-smooth paint job. Not all custom trucks follow that mantra though, and one may look to the rat rod scene for plenty of examples. This 1965 Chevrolet C10 owned by Boyd Jordan of 3rd Generation Customs in Memphis, TN follows the rat rod theme to a T. The perfect amount of exterior rust is complemented by five inches of body drop, a raised bed, and a flame-thrower that shoots 14 feet away from the rear bumper. He had us at flamethrower!
8. The Operator
Based on a 2017 F-350 4×4 Lariat Crew Cab, The Operator is a tricked out ride that can induce many a wet dream. Featured along with many other custom trucks at the 2017 SEMA show, this Hellwig Products collaboration is raised three inches, sits on 37-inch Falken Wildpeak M/T tires, has a Wilco Pre Runner tailgate and comes complete with an Arctic Cat Wildcat X in the bed. Power comes from the Blue Oval’s 6.7L Power Stroke diesel with a Magnaflow Pro DPF Performance exhaust. You can read a more detailed Gearheads review of The Operator here.
9. Sump Scuffer
Like many custom trucks, the Sump Scuffer has had a hard life. The 1956 F100 worked most of its life and was left to rust and die until John Leal’s dad bought it. Once it became a member of the Leal family, the roof was chopped, the door corners were rounded, and 150 louvers were placed on the hood. Speaking of the hood, Leal placed a 460 Ford powerplant under it. To finish the truck off, a full tilt front end was added and the bed was lowered to match the chop. The lower stance earned it the nickname Sump Scuffer because its oil sump often bounces off broken pavement.
10. 1950 Willys Dual Fuel
Willys Overland is best known for building the predecessor to the Jeep than it is for its trucks. That is why when you see one sitting amongst a group of custom trucks you look twice…probably more than that, truth be told. The trucks were sharp as built, but David Rieger of Classic Revivals took his 1950 Willys to a whole other level. The body modifications were kept simple. Little things like ’34 Ford bumpers, ’33 Ford taillights, and a set of AutoNik headlights with integrated LED turn signals top the list. He used a Mustang II front-end to help with the 11-inch drop the truck features. Under the hood, Rieger diverged from most custom truck builders. Where the general rule is power, Rieger chose to be eco-friendly. He used the diesel engine from a 1981 Chevrolet Chevette. The tiny 1.8L Isuzu engine was originally rated for a jaw-dropping 51 ponies. Rieger added a custom intake and exhaust and converted the engine so that the tiny powerplant is now capable of running on biodiesel when fossil fuel becomes depleted.
11. 1948 Willys Overland Pickup
Here we go with another Willys. We can’t help ourselves, they are a great base for custom trucks. This one is powered by a Chevy 350 with an aluminum Edelbrock intake and carb. The powerplant is rounded off a custom dual exhaust featuring Thrush mufflers. The engine is mated to a 200R4 gearbox. Out back is a Ford 9″ rear end. The bodywork includes a one-off louvered clamshell hood, full-length running boards, and rear fenders that were widened to accommodate the 15″x10″ rear tires. The bed and tailgate were custom built and incorporate a ton of aluminum diamond plate. The paint job was finished off by hot rod artist Jeff Styles. The interior was treated to a custom dash, a Lokar billet shifter and gas pedal, as well as a set of ’65 Mustang bucket seats. Now that is a show stopper if we ever saw one!
12. 1949 Studebaker
In 1949, Studebaker equipped its ½ ton M5 pickup trucks with its Champion 169 cu-in. engine. While that engine was respectable for the time period, custom trucks usually require more punch. So, Low Rod Shop in Colville, Washington packed a Chevy 383 under the hood of this 1949 Studebaker M5. The powerplant is paired to a 700R4 gearbox with overdrive. The nearly standard Ford 9” rear end is present along with a Ridetech front suspension, a forward opening hood, tilt bed, Autometer gauges, and a B&M shifter. The truck is rounded off with a beautiful Torch Red paint job honed to a brilliant shine.
13. The Atomitron
The Atomitron, owned by John Saltsman, is a mish-mash of several other vehicles, as all custom trucks end up being. Saltsman took it in a few odd directions though. He ended up with a set Cadillac fenders to go with the Chevy trunk lid and a plethora of custom-built parts he gathered. Those parts helped to offset the 6-inch chop and 15 ½ inch channel to a T. When you add in the Chevy small block drivetrain and custom paint by Larry Watson and Keith Dean, you get a custom truck that draws a lot of attention where ever it goes.
14. 1983 Dodge D100
Paul Baffino has been around custom trucks since he was a toddler. He also has an interest in doing things a bit differently. That odd mindset is how this custom D100 was born. The first issue he encountered was when he wanted to bag the front end. No one makes aftermarket parts for a D100, so a kit built for a Dodge Dakota had to do. With a little bit of extra drilling, he was finally able to drop his ride to the ground. The original 318 was a strong engine, but custom truck builders always want more, so a 5.9L Magnum with an Edelbrock carb was switched in. Not a bad looking custom truck for a daily driver. Even more so given the rarity of custom D100s.
15. Low Life
The Low Life started out as a ranch truck. After working the land for decades, it fell into the hands of first-time customizer Travis Covey. Travis may be a first timer, but his dad has been fueling his love for all things octane since he was in diapers.
For this build, the front axle was replaced with a 1978 Camaro front clip. The frame rails were then boxed to make the inner frame rails stronger. The front was dropped 8 inches using spindles from the same Camaro and Air Ride Technologies ShockWave bags. After that was done, a pair of 18” x 8” Panther chromes were put on. Out back there are more Air Ride Technologies bags, giving it an adjustable ride height. A Chevy 10-bolt with 3:23 gears coupled with a four-link rear suspension with Panhard bar underpins the rear. A pair of 20” x 9 ½ ” Panther chromes sit out back as well.
Power comes from a small block Chevy 350. To add a little to the engine’s output, Covey added a Weiand 142 supercharger and aluminum Edelbrock cylinder heads with 2.02 intake valves. The cylinders were bored .030 over. Comp Cams parts were used for the shaft, 1.7 roller rocker arms, and pushrods to fill out the blocks. Billet Specialties aluminum valve covers, pulleys, and an A/C compressor round out the engine compartment. What a great way to fill the space under the 3” pie-cut hood, don’t you think?