There's nothing quite like an early morning fiery Lamborghini crash to get a person's attention, especially around Christmastime. In case anyone was wondering, it's just a tad after 4 a.m. and I'm watching the TV news as I'm writing my last editorial for the year of 2008. I thought about penning one of those state-of-the-nation type editorials where the editor rambles on about his failures and successes of the year gone by, but frankly those always tend to be a little boring.
Nope, it's business as usual around the offices of Custom Classic Trucks and our topic for this issue is the sport truck movement. What got me to thinking about this subject was reading the introduction to John Gunnell's new book on '73-98 Chevy trucks, and discovering John had quoted me on the subject. First off, I can't tell you how neat it was to discover John had recalled my thoughts in his book because I've been a big fan of John's work ever since 1987 when I bought his book: Chevrolet Pickups 1946-1972. In those days I was a custom painter, and never dreamed that someday I might become a magazine editor, let alone be able to spell magazine editor correctly.
On page 5 of Chevrolet Pickups 1973-1998 John quoted me as mentioning to him the '88-98 Chevrolets were the first real sport trucks, and then went on to say: "We think the company made sporty trucks as far back as the '50s, but we appreciate John's viewpoint on the trend towards the newer models that he's seeing out in California." I guess I didn't do a very good job of expressing myself. What I was trying to get across to John was I regarded the '88 Chevrolet and GMC as the "Typhoid Mary" of the sport truck movement. Meaning sport truck as a category in the sense of mini-trucks or classic trucks, not like "gee, that's a real sporty looking truck."
In late 1987 when the dealer-customized van craze of the early '70's had wound down to just about a dead stop, the debut of General Motors' C1500 series was perfect timing to introduce a replacement craze. It couldn't have been more than a few months after Boyd Coddington had slammed and customized the pre-production '88 GMC that General Motors had given him that every GMC and Chevrolet dealer in the nation was offering a selection of custom, lowered C1500 "sport trucks," complete with billet wheels and dealer-optioned custom paint. In addition to wild graphics sublet to local custom painters, the base colors on a lot of these dealer sport trucks were special. All it took was an on-the-ball sales manager to special order five trucks in a fleet color such as '57 Chevy Aqua or school bus yellow and that particular dealer was truly offering customized sport trucks.
Bringing the focus back to Boyd's '88 GMC, I remember the rear axle was flipped to dump it 6 inches, but a friend of mine that worked at Boyd's told they didn't notch the frame, so the rear axle would make a loud bang every time the truck hit a bump. After Boyd owned the '88 the next owner was Jesse James. If memory serves me well, it must have been around 1992 when Boyd sold the GMC to Jesse, because this was around the time Jesse was working at Boyd's. A few years ... well maybe more than a few years went by when my friend Simo, who had worked for both Boyd and Jesse, told me that he had just bought the GMC from Jesse. It couldn't have been more than 2 years after hearing this when Simo called me up and said the GMC had been stolen. A few months went by, and then Simo called again to tell me the '88, or at least what was left of it, had been recovered by the police. Simo listed the remnants of the '88 GMC on eBay, and mentioned that it had once been owned by Jesse James and Boyd Coddington.