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Book Review: Ultra-Custom Semi Trucks

TORONTO, Ont. - Whether you like'em slammed, chopped, shaved or just plain shiny, Bette S. Garber's new book Ultra-Custom Semi Trucks has got a rig for you. Released in May by publisher Motorbooks, a ...

TORONTO, Ont. – Whether you like’em slammed, chopped, shaved or just plain shiny, Bette S. Garber’s new book Ultra-Custom Semi Trucks has got a rig for you. Released in May by publisher Motorbooks, a division of Quayside Publishing Group, this 192-page book is equal parts page-turner and jaw-dropper. Arranged into eight detail-driven chapters, Garber’s work takes the reader beyond the realms of regular old customization and into the tricked-out world of ultra-customization. And just what is ultra-customization, you ask? Garber defines it as “the next step in custom semis,” where truckers are using “new technologies and tapping new designs and building techniques” to turn their trucks into head-turning show stoppers.

For truckers or enthusiasts looking to get into customization, the book offers a great introduction and more than enough visual incentive to pursue the hobby. For the customizing veteran, the book is an extensive show-and-tell that gives an inside look into many of the biggest shops in the business.

Each chapter focuses on an aspect of customizing, from specific parts like chrome, paint and interior work, to getting inside the heads of drivers and finding out the “why”behind all their beautifying work. The book also showcases some of the most impressive and winningest rigs on the North American show and shine circuit, produced with the assistance of some of the monsters of the industry. Canadian customizers Valley Custom Trucks, Inferno Kustom Werks and 12 Ga. Customs feature prominently among a sea of US competitors.

The book is understandably and delightfully image-heavy with 263 colour illustrations, for as Garber says,”To their owners, a decked-out truck is no less than their public and personal image.”

Highlights for this reviewer include the Trucker Buddy who decked out his rig to look like a school bus, complete with faux windows painted down the side and a desk and library shelves in the cab (p. 41-42, 118), the slicked-back stacks on the Garcia brothers’ 2000 Pete (p. 44-45), 560 blazing LEDs on a ragin’ red Kenworth (p. 94), one of the coolest “super, extra, ultra” trailer fenders I’ve ever seen on Hoffman’s Hotrod (p. 134), and a personal favourite, Bob and Shelley Brinker’s homage to the Pirates of the Caribbean and their late daughter, Amie (p. 176-78).

The book shows there’s no limit to the imagination and innovation of truck customizers. With fuel prices and operating costs reaching new heights, customizing may not be in the budget for most O/Os this year, but Ultra-Custom Semi Trucks is the perfect guide for dreaming big and planning for next year. It retails for $16.95. For more information visit

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