Truck News


Canada’s chopped and shined chrome babies

LOUISVILLE, Ky. - In every competition, there are winners and there are losers. But when it came to Mid-America's first truck build-off, there was a heck of a lot of room for debate....

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – In every competition, there are winners and there are losers. But when it came to Mid-America’s first truck build-off, there was a heck of a lot of room for debate.

Six trucks competed in the build-off, two of them proudly Canadian, one of which came in third in a free vote by MATS attendees. Number Three was Bruce Montgomery of Quality Custom of Brampton, Ont.’s “Singled out” ’83 Pete 359. The truck DEMANDED the attention of passersby, with its navy and powder blue airbrushed skull design, shiny chrome, and extra long peekaboo hood (revealing a Cat engine) with custom ornament (a retooled Pete headlamp with chrome wings and a liquid filled tube down the middle), 280″ wheelbase, ultra-low sloping chopped roof, suicide doors and custom treaded Goodyear rear singles.

The other Canadian entry, not a placer in the final three, was “Stealth” a stripped down, black, road ready ’97 379 Pete with chopped UltraCab, suicide doors with no handles (they’re controlled by remote) and no rivets (the builder used metal bonding glue instead), custom dash (from a 359 Pete) bent stacks and plenty of stainless (not to mention the 1800 watt stereo system), which did its owner, Phil Langevin of PA Langevin Transport and Valley Custom Trucks in Ottawa, proud nevertheless.

Never mind the other competitors – like “The Beast” from the Elizabeth Truck Centre in Staten Island, N.Y., which placed first with 45 per cent of the 2,000 votes cast and won the grand prize – a mere $2,000 and bragging rights.

“The Beast” started out as a wrecked 1999 Peterbilt 379 car carrier, and took 8,000 man hours and over 3-1/2 months to build, with only the cab, engine, transmission and rear suspension salvaged. Everything else was fabricated, including the chassis.

Or Number Two, Bryan Martin and da Boyz from 4-State Trucks’ (Joplin, Miss.) “The Mobsled” truck – a ’94 Freightliner Classic XL conventional that was “raised out of the junkyard” according to the builder. (Other competitors included K&L Chrome Shop, in Florence, S.C.)

The build-off, new to MATS, all started out as “trash talk” between truck customizers, who then contacted the MATS organizers and asked them if they’d be interested in hosting the event.

Soon Stars and Stripes magazine, the U.S. sponsor of the truck beauty show at Mid-America got on board.

And the 1st Annual Big-Rig Build-Off was on, with builders spending upwards of $100,000 per truck and all of their spare time on building what they thought would catch the eyes and hearts of voters.

“I am so tired it’s unbelievable,” Langevin said. “In the last three to four weeks I’ve been working from first thing in the morning until 7 or 8 p.m. on weekdays, and 10 p.m. on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.”

Phil Langevin built his entry with the help of his two sons Jesse (17) and Jason (14) and some guys he works with. Even so, he wasn’t overly dismayed about not placing in the top three and fully intends to compete next year given the opportunity.

“But I’d like to see a more even playing field,” he said.

“My truck was certified for the road and it will be running down the road hauling for my company. But some of those other ones – well they wouldn’t be able to drive them. I’d like to see next year’s show change the rules a bit, maybe insist that the trucks meet somewhere 100 miles out of town and then drive in.”

Quality Custom builder Bruce Montgomery was equally eager to participate in next year’s show.

“We placed third and we’re happy with that,” said Montgomery. “Seeing as we’re not even American and we don’t have a following yet, like the Elizabeth guys did. But we’re definitely happy with placing.”

Like Langevin, Montgomery and his team were up late nights for months working on their masterpiece “Singled out,” as well as “Hotrod,” a ’90 379 Pete with a 244″ wheelbase, six inch chop and side pipes that could shoot flames intended for the MATS show n’ shine.

(“Singled out” will also be auctioned off at a charity golf tourney at the Lionhead Golf and Country Club in Brampton, Ont. Sept. 27. Tickets are $200 each and include a day of golfing and a dinner, as well as a 1/1,000 chance to win the truck. Profits will go to OPP’s Racing Against Drugs program and Child Find. For info call 1-877-225-2232.)

Last but not least, several Canadians placed in the beauty contest, including Randy and Jona Rebillard from Gimli, Man., whose 2002 Dark Blue Peterbilt, “Tired Iron”, placed second in both the Bobtail 2002-2003 and the Interior-Cab Only categories; Jay Sterling from Woodslee, Ont., whose 1978 Red Mack placed second in the Antique Non-Working category; Brian Thompson of Harrow, Ont., who placed third in the Interior-Expedite category; and last but not least, Lacey Dalton, from Caledonia, Ont. with a 2004 clack Pete 379 , who placed second in the Limited Mile Bobsled category.

Truck News would like to congratulate all the winners and participants. For more info on this year’s Mid-America Trucking Show, visit

To get a taste of what the custom truck building world is about, visit the following sites of custom builders:

In Canada:

* Quality Collision/Quality Custom

In the U.S.

* Bryan Martin of 4-State Trucks

* Pickett Custom Trucks

* Elizabeth Truck Center or

* K&L Chrome Shop

* Valley Customs Trucks

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