SEMA Crunch

May 10th, 2011

Text by Jason Mulligan and Travis Noack

Photos Courtesy of Owners

Ah, SEMA that four letter word that we love and hate at the same time. It is the motivation to finish our project trucks each year, and for some strange reason, decide to start new builds merely weeks before the deadline. The highs and lows of emotions felt throughout the build process culminates in the proud moment when one rolls into the Las Vegas convention center and begins wiping down the fresh paint as camera flashes pop. We always say after each year that next time we will start sooner and that we will not put ourselves in the same position working late into the night and sleeping at the shop. But we all know that each year, when the leaves start to change color, there are hundreds of shops and garages around the country where folks are turning wrenches well into the night.

Auto Core

Joe Molina’s Chain Reaction C-10 made its debut a couple of years ago at SEMA. It was barely finished in time. The last couple of years, the paint was redone and in the months leading up to SEMA, when Joe decided to bring the truck back, the crunch began. The interior and stereo were finished thanks to the help of Tony Mallaro. The motor was finally dropped into its home and all of the final details that were missing the first time were completed.

Ekstensive Metalworks

Tim Donelson’s iconic Color Blind truck came back to SEMA for the second year completely redone from rocker to roof in about a week’s time! Sure, the crew could have done a simple repaint, maybe added a new set of wheels, and brought it back to the SEMA show, where everything would have been fine; but the guys at Ekstensive Metalworks have the SEMA crunch down to a science. With just a week to go before the show, Tim’s Silverado was torn down completely, and a remade interior, including a classic sheet metal dash and redone audio and flat screen TVs in the doors were added. The front end was changed over to a molded HD fascia. The most apparent change is the rear frame section. The suspension and frame were reworked with a quickchange rearend and a floating frame that attaches to the inner bedsides. All of the photos you see were taken within the four days leading up to SEMA!

Hill’s Hot Rods/JD Glassworks/Street Trucks

Project Fast Lane was introduced to the pages of Street Trucks in 2007, and the crew from Hill’s Hot Rods and JD Glassworks have been pounding hard on it ever since. The truck started as a powerless roller with a heavily battered body and quite a few worthless sheet metal panels. The only 1956 steel that remains is on the cab, hood and doors, and all of those have been worked over. Every panel on the truck has been heavily modified from the radiused door corners, chopped and pancaked roofline, sectioned and pancaked hood, tightened wheel openings, sectioned and dropped rear fenders, custom handbuilt running boards and slick, shaved and smooth exterior. The No Limit and Ridetech suspended chassis was Z’d by Hill’s up front and stepped out back to get the running boards to lay over 20-inch bonspeeds and meaty BFGs, while a Ford Racing 302 hooked to an Art Carr AOD spinning a Currie third member inside a custom 9-inch pushes this classic artwork down the road. A custom mix of PPG hues sprayed by Jason Hill feature Rich Cream down low and Spiced Rum up top to set the street rod tone, while a Jeff Majors Bed Wood & Parts insert shouts classic in the box, and the custom threads and sounds laid down by Jimmy Davis of JD Glassworks button up the cab innards. Cinnamon leather was used on the Glide seat and audio gear built in custom enclosures from Trio pulses through the cab. The crew from Hill’s Hot Rods and JD Glassworks thrashed hard during the final push in the five weeks leading up to SEMA to get Fast Lane in the Street Trucks booth. Special thanks goes out to Jason Hill, Jimmy Davis, Kyle Black, Mark Spencer, Jerry “Spanish” Barraza, JayR, Gabe “Shaggy” Pratt, Jesse Landin and Max Heersink for working around the clock to make sure this stunner hit the carpet at SEMA 2010.


The SEMA crunch brings out a lot of emotions, both good and bad. Aaron Hunt from Hydroholics went through a roller coaster of highs and lows during the final stages of his juiced Armada. Already flat on the ground with Hydroholics components, the Armada was blown apart so that the suspension could be painted and chromed. It was almost halfway done, so Aaron figured it would be an easy couple of months to put the finishing touches on it. Here is Aaron’s experience in his own words.

Scott from Innovated Creations and Designs worked his magic and obtained numerous sponsors who offered their product on my build.  Suddenly my work became much more complex. The first few months of my teardown were very enjoyable. I spent the weekends obsessing over minute details, as I normally do, such as prepping my fabricated pieces for paint and chrome.  It was so relaxing, almost therapeutic, to hang out in my garage with some good music playing and my dream of being at SEMA starting to become a reality. As the midpoint came, I started to kick it into high gear, working on the truck at night after my kids were in bed, running parts around on my lunch break or after work.

Jimmy from Airizona Artworx spent many late nights with me in my garage welding up the door handles, spraying my frame and educating me on the art of bodywork. After all of the parts came back from the chrome shop, the axle was done being built and regeared, the fuel cell was polished and Hydroholics hydraulics were reinstalled, it was time to take it to Airizona Artworx for a fresh coat of paint.  The truck was dropped off Monday night, one week before SEMA. It was at that point that everything started to become a blur. Jimmy had another SEMA project falling behind schedule and a few small SEMA-related jobs to take on at the exact same time as my truck. It became apparent that I needed to spend my nights after work at his shop to help get the truck together.

Functioning at work on two to three hours of sleep wasn’t easy, but for some reason I was amped up and ready to put another 12 hours into the truck every night. My friend Keith came in to help Jimmy out, working all week, 24 hours a day, with no sleep. Come Saturday (the day before SEMA roll-in) my truck was still in pieces with no doors, no interior, and it was filthy mess. I’m not one to ask for help, but my friends knew I needed help to finish, and they started showing up whether I asked or not. Nick and Ryan from Perfect Poise were saviors who came down to cut and buff the truck. My wife polished all of the chrome, while John Trevino and I hung the doors. Just before midnight my truck made it home to my garage, which was filled with nearly every member in my club. We hit the truck hard, installing the windows, interior, sponsor logos, exterior trim and one last quick coat of wax before it was back on the trailer and ready for SEMA. Ultimately, I made it to Vegas on time and gave my truck a quick sponge bath in front of the Las Vegas Convention Center. It was the ultimate reward for an insane week. I saw my Armada amongst the finest custom vehicles in the world. My appreciation for the amazing scene in Arizona reached a peak that week when all my friends from different clubs offered their assistance. Without their help I couldn’t have accomplished this goal.

The Little Shop of Horrors

The rebirth of The Spike Truck, better known as Ol’ Crispy, came thanks to Young Ron, Eric Saliba and the rest of the guys at The Little Shop of Horrors. The former Street Trucks cover truck nearly burnt to the ground in a shop accident and was thought to be lost to the scrap yard. But it was brought back to life with even more mods than before offering up great hot rod style to the mini. The bed was tossed and so was the roof. The reserves were brought in to help with all of the bodywork, including Jamey Tiffany and Jerry Rose of Driveway Werx, along with Yankee of Moonshine Customs. Also helping out was Rich Brandi and Brad Wurzbacher and Bobby from Maryland along with the usual suspects. They each got a spike souvenir for their help. The top was chopped an inch and everything received bodywork to bring it to perfection before it was sprayed mere nights before the cross-country journey that threatened to put Ol’ Crispy back in the ground for good.

Nfamus Air Suspension

Keith Sawyer and the crew at Nfamus took things light this year for SEMA after pumping out several hot trucks in the past couple of years. Robin Moody’s juiced Hi Lux was brought in for some updated interior sheet metal work to finish things off. Custom door panels were made and spruced up using bead rolls and dimple dies. Finished in bare metal, the new pieces stayed in step with the old school theme of the mini.


If bringing out a total of five SEMA vehicles weren’t enough, the crew at Status in Rockwall, Texas, brought out Justin Stoke’s fine work of art, a crew cab F-150. The truck was worked on throughout the year, receiving a stock floor body drop, full shave job and Raceline 24-inch wheels. In the months leading up until SEMA, the project took on a life of its own when the original plan for a solid black paint job was scrapped because Darren Wenzel of Gasoline Art brought his airbrush to town. The gambling and tattoo-inspired paint scheme was perfect for its debut in Sin City. The truck was finished off with a red hot rod-style interior and a bed wood kit.

Status/Mitch Henderson Designs

You may have seen Sexual Chocolate and its progress here in Street Trucks. Mitch Henderson’s highly detailed C-10 made its way to the AccuAir booth at SEMA where it caught tons of eyes and took home a GM Design award for Best GM Truck! The truck featured Suicide Doors suspension and a smoothed and detailed frame. Laid on top of that is a fully restored C-10 body with all of the trimmings.  What started out as a stock Laker Truck was stripped down to its bare bones and built back up, offering a highly custom, yet restored look.

Street Trucks (http://www NULL.streettrucksmag

Project Greystone was finished during the months leading up to SEMA in order to make its finished debut. There was no late night crunch thanks to the fact that the work was scheduled ahead of time and everything came together perfectly because of the shops and sponsors involved. The weeks leading up to the show consisted of bouncing around from shop to shop to finalize the installs and lots of parts running. Things were finished up in time for a complete detail to get the daily driver ready for the big show!

Street Trucks/Hardkore (http://www NULL.hardkoreonline (http://www NULL.streettrucksmag

The latest C-10 in the Street Trucks camp is owned by Brandon Lillie and in the past 11 months The Freshman has gone from a street cruiser on 15s to a rail dragger on 20-inch bonspeed Wheel billets, with a fully powder coated and detailed frame, polished ATK small-block 350, shaved envelope and sheet metal and tubbed bed all topped with slick paint and graphics. Many weekends and late nights in the garage were endured to transform the truck into the stunner it is today. The team of metal men, body workers, painters and assembly hands include Marcel Venable of Hardkore, Harley Camilleri, Chris Crisalli, Tom McWeeney of Kustoms, Inc., Andy Radi of Radi’s Custom Interiors, Brandon Lillie, 714 Motorsports, Travis Noack, Jason Mulligan and Nathan Porter from Porterbuilt Street Rods. The truck packs a 1960-66 GM truck dash modified to fit into the square body confines, and the silver topcoat accented with charcoal graphics combined with the candy red frame contribute to the street rod finish. The truck was pounded on all the way up until it was time to leave for Vegas. Unfortunately, hindered by weather delays, missing parts and simply not enough time, it couldn’t make the big show but is set to debut soon.

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