As part of Custom Classic Trucks' ongoing effort to bring an equal balance to our editorial format, we have spared no expense to bring our valued readers a tasty selection of popular brand trucks to feature in tech stories, such as this '86 Dodge D-150. Did we happen to mention we paid a whopping $501 plus a stack of old motorcycle magazines for the truck?

When I spotted the Dodge parked on a street near our office, I pleaded with Dakota Wentz, my associate editor, to buy it so I wouldn't have to drag home my third old truck in less than a month. But no, Dakota has his heart set on finding a '72 Chevy to build as his ultimate dream truck, so I haggled with the Dodge's second owner and drove the old Mopar home. It wasn't too long before I figured out that we had the perfect makings of a super cool low-buck high school custom right here in Custom Classic Trucks' own stable. Since a lot of the custom classic trucks that grace our pages started out decades ago as the owner's trusty high school ride, the idea of showing today's kids that you can still build a unique vintage truck for way less money than buying a mass-produced Japanese import sounded like it would be a lot of fun.

The first thing to consider when buying a used vehicle is that condition is everything. But this doesn't mean everything about the vehicle has to be perfect. In the case of our '86 Dodge, there were a few obvious problems right off the bat, but part of someone learning how to buy the right old truck is being able to spot a diamond in the rough. When the Dodge was first spotted on the street, the rear window was made out of tattered Visqueen and silver duct tape, and in plain view on the driver's side was a smashed-in bed. In the January issue of Custom Classic Trucks, our friend Steve Bentley showed readers how to install a $25 rear window and rubber seal from the junkyard at home with a length of electrical wire. In the February issue, we had Jerry and Mike over at Paint 'N' Place in Placentia, California, instruct readers how to use a Spitzenagel along with a Porta-Power to cherry out the bedside.

Since then, we have gone after some of the Dodge's mechanical and creature comforts with a bent toward the high-performance side of things. Since we initially paid so little for the truck, we have been able to buy the highest-quality parts we can get our hands on and still keep the projected costs of our high school custom well under $5,000. Not having to settle for inferior parts that might be a little cheaper will definitely pay off big time in the end.

In upcoming issues, we will get into a lot more detail about everything we did to the Dodge, but in the meantime, we thought you all might like a quick update on what we have done to our high school custom so far.