King of the Kats

Story & Photos by Jason R. Sakurai

In the history of hot rod shows, trucks were at first limited to those based on A’s, T’s, Deuces and competitive makes and models to fit a certain pre-war time period, just as the same criteria was applied to cars. It took Goodguys’ founder, the late Gary Meadors, to broaden the scope of what constituted a hot rod and take the risk of alienating or infuriating some traditional hot rodders by including trucks up to 1972 (and later through the ‘80s), thus ensuring truck owners and enthusiasts had a place in their events and felt welcome. Subsequently, other promoters and associations bowed to pressure from vehicle owners and sponsors, restrictions were eased somewhat, and more trucks were allowed in once the other hot rod organizations realized pre-war hot rod owners were aging along with their rides, they were losing business to Goodguys, and fewer ‘real’ hot rods were being built. 

Fast forward to the present, and the Washington State Fair Events Center in Puyallup, where a plethora of trucks of all descriptions congregated at the 31st Goodguys Pacific North West Nationals, an annual gathering of epic proportions. One of the largest events in Goodguys’ 35-year history, the number and variety of trucks is staggering, with over 2,500 vehicles from all across the U.S., and a good number from western Canada. Hard to imagine what a hot rod show was like without trucks, isn’t it? Unlike previous years when rain was a factor at least one or more days during the show, this year it was dry throughout, making for near-perfect conditions. Capturing the essence of trucks in this area of the country was the goal, and without further ado, here’s what we found. 

Brian Kraft’s ’72 GMC Jimmy is LS1 powered with a 4L65E transmission, one smooth ride.

The 5.7L LS1 in Kraft’s Jimmy.

Walking the walk, Competition Specialties warehouse owner Steve Woomer brought his ’71 C-10.

Bill Sellstrom’s dark green ’72 Cheyenne is described as a ZZ427-powered ‘farm truck’.

Steve Adams of Kelso, Washington drove his full fendered ’36 Ford Panel Truck to Puyallup.

Orange ’54 Chevy with a 327/350 powertrain is from Bernsten of Sumner, Washington.

We somehow missed the owner’s name, but this blue and white ’72 Cheyenne has a 427 under hood.

Gary McGough’s ’70 El Camino has a 454 SBC and 4-speed tranny, backing up a flaming exterior.

B&M supercharged 454 small block Chevy under the hood of McGough’s El Camino.

Edbob Clark calls this ’49 Studebaker with a 350 Chevy and Mustang II front suspension his own.

Black and bad is how Ron Molzahn describes his 383 SBC powered ’56 Ford F-100, and we agree.

Tracy Nelson’s 305 V-6 ’61 GMC Suburban in what the owner calls unrestored ‘new paint’ in tan and white.

Bob Woolery’s ’48 Ford F-1 with a 351W is an under construction home built that sure looks good to us.

Tom Jacobson’s cool ’65 C-10 Panel has a High Torque 292 I-6 backed by a ‘granny 4’ speed

High Torque 292 inline six in Tom Jacobson’s Panel Truck.

Bob Jacobowitz’s ’69 GMC Sierra Custom hails from Lake Tapas, Washington.

Jacobowitz’s other entry, a rare 2WD ’72 GMC Jimmy, features a 454/350 TH drivetrain and dark green paint

Want traditional? Tim Larson’s 327/350 powered ’34 Ford rolls on wide whitewalls and steel wheels.

Inside the Showplex, more than 50 artists took part in the Pinstripers Brush Bash.

In cleaning out friends’ garages, Jeff Eischen’s ’29 Model A got a ’56 Red Ram Hemi, 700R4, 9” rear, Moon tank and Heidts front suspension. Those are some friends!

University Place, Washington’s John Gilchrist is the caretaker of this fine C-10.

No info on this beauty, a gold and white C-10 and Muscle Machine of the Year contestant.

Clean Square Body belonging to one of the exhibitors had no info on it.

Fun for kids of all ages, the Fair’s Merry-Go-Round is a favorite

Chris Kunnen issued a challenge, ‘see if you can find ‘em’, which may have referred to his ’54 Chevy 3100, or maybe the 350/700R4 drivetrain?

J & T Colman’s ’60 GMC uses a 406 GM engine backed by a 700R4, and ‘too many’ details to mention.

Parked in front of the Nurse’s Station, we found Gary Ellis Sr. & Jr.’s ’54 ‘Ford in a Ford’ F-100.

Jesse Ashe’s red ’66 El Camino with a 327 and 4-speed epitomized the balance between muscle and utility.

KISW 99.9FM rocked the Goodguys Pacific NW Nationals all weekend.

From Redmond, Oregon, came Steve Ontjes in his ’55 Ford F-100 with a Chevy 350/350.

According to owner Bob Nolan, only 2,546 ’46 Suburbans were made, but how many of those have a Ram Jet 350 and a 700R4, in a TCI chassis like his?

Mike Boehlke’s ’62 Ford Econoline Is a cool vintage custom, powered by a 140 cubic inch inline six.

Canadian Jeff Hintz’s ’80 GMC C15 in sunset bronze mist rides on a full custom chassis, with Air Ride and a 6.0L LS engine

‘Grandpa’s old truck’ is how Jeff Kudsk described his 402/700R4 powered ’71 GMC.

Jason Cappinger’s ’56 Chevy 3100 with a 454 under the hood, sits on a TCI frame with paint by JCK.

Doc Kinney’s ’37 Chevy with a healthy LS7/4L60 powertrain hails from Chilliwack, B.C., Canada, where he no doubt keeps it under wraps during inclement weather.

Looks can be deceiving, and this rather subdued ’50 Chevy belongs to none other than Craig Morrison. Wonder whose chassis is under this one?

Bill & Nels Jensen’s ’37 Ford has a 276 cubic inch C8BA Flathead stroker with Navarro heads and intake, triple Stromberg carbs, and a whole lot more, with a Porsche Stone Gray exterior.

Nutter butter blue is the color of Jeremy Pentland’s ’66 Chevy, who also says it has a bench seat because he’s a good whistler.

Joe & Gail Karver’s two-tone ’72 Chevy Cheyenne is a fine representative of the local Puyallup truck scene.

Alberta, Canada’s Kevin Sterling’s ’68 Chevy is a frame off restoration, 90% owner built, lowered 5”/7”, with lots of shiny stuff and ‘baloo’ custom color.

Brilliant yellow ’71 Chevy is the handiwork of Woodburn, Oregon’s Bruce Hemshorn

We couldn’t find who owned this sharp Snap-On tool truck either.

Donnie Juntunen’s ’72 GMC Suburban, ‘Fireball’ has an LS7, Mobsteel wheels, and Cochran Garage exhaust.

Spokane, Washington’s Mike Warner displayed his ’74 Bronco, with a 302 V-8 and 3-speed transmission.

Chris Holstrom Concepts built Jim Kurtz’s ’59 Chevy for the ’17 SEMA Show, with a 383/6-speed drivetrain.

Jay Breiting’s gold and white ’72 from nearby Tacoma rounded out a number of Suburbans at the show.

The original sport truck, Jeremy Madison’s ’59 El Camino is a frame off resto, with an LT1, 700R4, Air Ride suspension, and 20” wheels.

Vying for the Slowest Vehicle Award, Kevin Ball’s 1600cc ’71 VW Westfalia hails from Coquitlam, B.C.