Folks will get a chance to read the complete coverage in the July issue, but I thought I'd share a few thoughts with everyone from the Goodguys' season opener in Costa Mesa, California, before this issue goes to press. I got to wondering, how does a person know when they're done with their truck, or if they've even finished it? After the show ended on Saturday I was heading north on the 405 and for some dumb reason I couldn't get this question out of my mind. It might have been because I ate way too many deep-fried artichoke hearts, or chugged down too many mega-energy drinks. I kept thinking about some of the trucks I saw there that have not been changed since heartbeat graphics and teal paintjobs were in. I'm not saying that teal isn't a pretty color because it's fine, but with so many of my friends flat-lining lately who wants to be reminded of a heartbeat? Although on the other hand the thought of heartbeat graphics does take me back to another time and place. It was in 1987 and the bright red DuPont enamel with a urethane crosslinker on my '65 F-250 was still shiny. I had a long-legged blonde girlfriend who looked like she had just strutted off the cover of Street Rodder magazine. The July '88 issue to be exact, but that's a story for another day, and definitely not to appear in this magazine. Getting back to what I was talking about, how does a person know when they've finished their truck, or gone too far? What happens to make a completed truck freeze in time? Is it like when a young couple gets married, buys furniture and then many years later they've become the grandpa and grandma with the weird antique furnishings or was it a conscious decision not to change? I can't really say, but one can't knock the guys who are still sporting '70's and '80's customizing trends, because if it wasn't for guys like them, we wouldn't have a bunch of cool survivors from the '50s and '60s around either. I'm not sure why these trucks stay the same though. Is it because the fellows who own them think they are perfect, and there's not one more thing that can be done, or is it all about the wallet? If someone were to take a critical look at my collection of my old trucks, I'm sure they'd say it must be a matter of time, and money.
There's another category of customized classic truck that's always in abundance at the car shows and that's the ones where the owner didn't quite know when it was time to stop and start on another truck. I have a theory on this, several actually. I think some of the overdone trucks, are because something tragic has occurred, and the owner didn't want to take it out of service. A good example that comes to mind is a close friend who kind of leans to the artsy-craftsy side when he has to do something to his truck. I always have to chuckle when I think of the time he made a matching pair of full scale '59 Corvette coves out of tooled leather that screamed in big fancy letters 1956 Ford F-100 and then plastered them over a brand-new door dent that was only on one side. My friend explained that not only was the dent gone, his truck looked cool, but it only took him a few days to whittle them out while he never had to quit driving. In my opinion all he needed to finish the truck off would have been to use Waylon Jennings' belt buckle, with some big cow horns for a hood ornament. Next in line is what I call the Mexican General treatment. Like all of the medals usually found on a Mexican General's chest these trucks are adorned from one end to the other with bright gee-gaws and baubles to denote a battle or historic occasion. Look inside and on the dashboard there will be anodized aluminum mini-plaques from truck shows and runs that date back sequentially to 1977. Outside on the grille and tailgate, there will be little white oval plaques with black lettered abbreviations denoting some country that no one has ever been to, or even heard of. Gee, it looks like I'm running out of space. So okay, did any of you guys learn anything from reading this? I didn't think so. Did any of you forget about all of the miserable things that are going on in the world today? Good, because that's all I was really trying to do.--John Gilbert