Typically, featured vintage trucks meet a few basic requirements that classify them as custom. We tend to look for subtle body modifications, a lowered stance, custom interior, and a tricked-out engine. We examine the body panels for paint preparation-and a flawless topcoat is a must-have detail. Loyal readers won't often find "patina trucks" in CCT except in event coverage or the End? page.

When it comes to detailing a custom classic truck engine, it's rare that a builder will maintain a stock factory-equipped powerplant or drivetrain. If we were examining a restored original matching-numbers collectible, that's a different standard . . . and a different magazine. Most decked-out rides on today's fairground will have more-than-minor upgrades under the hood. We've seen plenty of classic 350ci Chevy V-8s and big-block brutes-there seem to be endless possibilities for modifying a small-block.

One recent project we covered construction of was this '68 Chevy C10 built by UCA Classics and Customs in Gilbert, Arizona. Already in the midst of a new paint scheme, lowered suspension, and powdercoated frame, this classic truck was due for an engine transplant. The planned equipment was a GM 502ci crate engine.

Known as the king of big-block crate engines, the GM 502 packs a whopping 502 hp and 567 lb-ft of torque. This powerful engine makes use of aluminum (to keep the weight down), making the aluminum heads, intake, water pump, and valve covers part of an overall package known for its significant amounts of horsepower.

However, the 502ci V-8 still lacked the serpentine drive system necessary to connect the power steering, engine, water pump, air conditioner, and alternator, ultimately allowing the engine to run. Most options included purchasing an aftermarket system to bolt-on to our new engine. Because we wanted to incorporate some attention-attracting details, we turned to Vintage Air and their new Front Runner Serpentine Drive System.

A serpentine drive system is precisely what the name implies: a continuous ribbed belt, looped through and around the front of an engine, to drive various engine parts. The serpentine system is more efficient than older systems because it utilizes one wide belt instead of several thinner belts, allowing the one belt to be put under increased tension without stretching. One small advantage to the serpentine belt system is that if the belt does break, the driver immediately knows there's a problem.