If You Thought Mini Truckin’ Was Dead, Think Again

Do you remember the first mini truck you laid eyes on? Was it a bed dancer from the ’80s, or maybe something with Corvette tails from the late ’90s? If you haven’t kept up with the genre then perhaps you assumed they had all rolled Cali (nose high, rear low) into the sunset, never to be seen again.

Don’t worry, I won’t blame you if you did.


Typically, when I mention mini trucks to my not-so-truck-fanatical friends, I’m met with puzzled looks and the assumption that the genre rolled over and died at the turn of the millennium. 2018 might be a long way from the mini truckin’ heyday, when they could be seen everywhere, but the genre is certainly far from gone. It actually seems to be in a period of resurgence.


Proof of the second coming is all around if you know where to look. There are several Facebook groups dedicated to the ‘OG’ style of mini truck building, and Gas Monkey Garage recently dedicated two episodes to resurrecting ‘Krew Cut’, one of the most famous mini truck-style duallies to ever grace the cover of Truckin’ magazine.

The renewed interest in the genre makes sense if you consider that, due to its fabrication-heavy foundation, many contemporary automotive personalities have roots in the mini truck community. Mike Finnegan, Miles Shinneman (‘Bauler Hauler’ builder), and former Speedhunter Keith Charvonia, to name a very small few.


One event that’s helping lead the mini truck revival in Ontario is the Northern Showdown Custom Car & Truck Show. In its fourth year now, the for-charity event continues to grow, attracting custom cars and trucks from both Canada and the United States. It’s the event these photos were taken at, and where I go for my yearly mini truck fix.

Stayin’ Alive

If the staying power of mini truck culture could be described in a single word, that word would be ‘dedication’. Being a mini trucker in 2018 isn’t easy, especially if you want to build a true mini truck. The standard compact pick up truck has essentially been erased from the current North American market, so if you want to build ‘OG’ you’re looking at an imported vehicle or one 15 years or older.

This makes your average mini trucker a bit of a preservationist. It’s likely easier to find parts for a classic Mustang than it is a Mitsubishi Mighty Max, Toyota Tacoma, Isuzu Spacecab, or Mazda B2200.


The dedication required to build one means most mini truck owners have endured quite lengthy relationships with their vehicles. Often, they are first purchases, restored high school cruisers, or family hand-me-downs.


In an era where car builders are criticized more than ever for seeking instant gratification and hopping from one trend to another, seeing a community built around long-term builds and ownership is quite refreshing. I love striking up a conversation with a mini trucker for a little DIY motivation. It’s hard to go home and hate your own project after talking to someone that’s been working on theirs for over half your lifetime.


Realistically, I don’t think there is such thing as a short, or quick mini truck build. For example, the truck you see above was a clean, running and driving bagged truck about four years ago. Some may have considered it finished, but in the owner’s eyes it just wasn’t low enough. So logically, the choice was made to take it right down to the frame and rebuild it from the ground up.

The DOM tube frame is clearly custom, but would you have guessed the control arms are also 100% unique to this build? The bar HHR Customs has set for this build is incredibly high from a fabrication standpoint, all the way down to the parts selected. Wilwood brakes are used front and rear with the rear being inboard mounted to a Currie F9 center section.


This build is serious in every definition of the word. As a show that values true custom work, this truck took home a well deserved best engineered trophy at Northern Showdown 2018. I can only imagine when it’s done that a best of show award isn’t far off.

Entering The Afterlife

The lack of new platforms for mini truckers to chose from has led to many builders looking for older trucks to lay out. The reasoning here is that if you can put a 20-year-old truck on the floor, why not a 40 or 50-year-old truck? When it comes to a cab, a box, a frame, a motor, and some wheels, what’s another decade on the clock at the end of the day?


Ford F-100s and Chevrolet C-10s are two of the hottest platforms right now, but early-to-late-1950s trucks have also become quite popular.


Not every builder stays in the truck realm, though. Some jump ship entirely to platforms very far removed from pick ups.


Mike Pateras (mp_gymkhana) sold his bagged and body-dropped Tahoe to get behind the wheel of his now WRC-inspired Subaru. It might not be a truck, but much of what he learned about fabrication and seeing an idea through to completion in his mini truck days can be seen in this car.

Don’t worry, the aged aged vinyl wrap isn’t just for looks. The Impreza gets driven as hard as you’d expect a car with this livery and a hydraulic handbrake to be.

I would have loved to capture more unique builds from Northern Showdown 2018, like Mike’s car and the 4.3t Beetle from a few weeks back, but unfortunately Mother Nature had other plans, cutting my visit a little short.

Until I get a chance to get my next fill of mini trucks, I’d like to give a shout out to those of you keeping the genre alive. If you’ve got one kicking around in your garage I’d love to see it in the comments section below.

Dave Thomas
Instagram: stanceiseverythingcom

Cutting Room Floor
SpeedHunters-Northern-Showdown-2018-Dave-Thomas-35 (2)


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So cool to see mini trucks on SH! My first ride was a '93 extra cab Toyota with the 4runner front clip, 17" Boyds, and c-notch. I've been wanting to build an early 90's Toy again.


Yesssssss! I love mini trucks. Used to have a very low static dropped S15 with a corvette motor, until it caught fire on the highway. Always carry a fire extinguisher.
The fab work on proper mini truck builds can be pretty wild and creative. Great post


Man that's rough. Sorry to see that :(


ahhh....that would kill me. my first mini was a squarebody s-10


Wicked read. Thank you! The mini truckin’ community thanks you. These trucks are getting rare... but they are not gone. You can bet on that!


been a minitrucker for over 20 years my truck was handed down to from my dad, it was my first love when he brought the mazda b2200 home from the dealership, I still have it. im in the process of rebuilding it


I have a 90 Mazda B2200. One day i was looking through old family pictures and found my dads old truck back when he had his brand new in 1990. I am currently rebuiding it and it is bringing alot of memories back to my dad.

You can check it out on Instagram @slammedmini_trucks


I have a soft spot for the mazda B2000 have been looking for one for years


1 minitruck isn't enough for my, I bought my uncle's 92 toyota after it was passed around to a few people, some bad some good, im in the process of doing a complete makeover on it


I love seeing trucks that have been through the ringer find a new, good, home to get reborn.


We had some darn cool trucks out at our recent All Japanese Classic Event here in Vancouver, Canada. This era of trucks has a great utilitarian style to me. The work done on them is usually really extensive and high quality, too.


So clean!


The first issues of Sport Compact Car were an offshoot of MiniTruckin’ Magazine and featured mini-truck style cars. A lot of the mods you see now were done on mini-trucks back in the day. Tire stretch, bags, and even extremely low static drops, etc.


Yeah, those were the days, some cool cars in there (MiniTruckin' even used to have a 'Custom Compact' feature at the end of the magazine for a while). My first car had shaved door handles, sliding rag top, Porsche baby blue paint, etc. Wanted to do tweed interior too but ended up going with vinyl instead.


I may or may not have had something to do with cars getting back into MT. haha


That's dope. I was a subscriber for several years in the 90s. Miss that scene a little

Ill have the tuna

some of our great fabricators today had their start cutting up frames in the 90's minitrucking days. That Toyota isn't just gonna lay frame on its own. good stuff!


Mini truckin will never die my little family of 5 love the scene and all the others out there but we are die hard minitruckers and that's 100 here is a pic of my bodied taco on 20s


this is my uncles mini truck, it was built back in his high school days , recently pulled out of hiding in his mom's garage for 20 years.. now back to tip top shape, haydraulics gone through, chips and scratches fixed and whole thng re cleared. he said it pops better than it did when new. defintely needs a visit from one of your photographers!


Was there a youtube video on this truck recently, in a parking lot perhaps? I feel like I've seen it before.


I think the mini-truck scene has become more of a regional thing. If I remember correctly, it's still pretty popular along the Florida Panhandle. There was a car club in the Panama City Beach area, Vital Signs, that did a huge show every year during Spring Break.


There are huge shows nationwide. I went to the vital signs show in 2012, drove down from VA. There are events all year round nationwide.


You could be right. I actually didn't think of it that way. Florida has always had a pretty thriving and consistent mini community.


I'm not an og in the mini truck scene, actually pretty much still a newb at only 3years playing with mini's under my belt. I've found it's very addictive I static dropped my current 96 Tacoma with plans to over the winter purchase another truck with a lot lower standards or driving in mind. It's been a big family and I love every minute of it


I just dont understand this =))


My little 89 Ranger GT and minitruckin is alive and well in this house


Those days in the '90s were so awesome
The best mini truck is the GMC Typhoon


See that big lifted Ford, and the slammed H3? I think that's why you're often met with puzzling looks from your non-truck friends lol. Not because mini-trucks have gone years ago, but what truck modifying looks like today.
I actually like a clean mini-truck build. Once they start looking like carnival amusements I lose interest. You cannot deny the fabrication tho. Love to see a build sped up into a short video.


My 86 gmc, bagged, body dropped on 22s, 07 ly6/6l90 swapped


I have to say I'm not a fan of the "aged" or muddy wrap. I dont really like when people fake patina or mud/dirt and wear. That's just my opinion though and the car is super well done, overall I love it!


I've been minitruckin since the late 90's with a few in the yard to this day in various states of construction....It's a scene that will never die. Stance kids, racers, and drifters all come and go from the scene, but there will always be top notch fabricators and owners keeping the true culture going.


Dave, does project why wait count as a mini truck? Also will it be on SH?


Possibly! Still gauging interest :)


I might as well share my own project along with you guys too :)


I'll just click the back arrow and "leave this page" NOW


don't call yourself any sort of enthusiast then. my bagged and bodydropped minitruck also has a V8 making real power. dont be so close minded. maybe your just jealous you cant build something fast AND sylish? dont let the door hit ya where the door split ya!!!


where the LORD split ya


Awesome! I love the Kranze LXZ's - they look great on that two tone hardbody.


That dropped Hummer is hilarious.


I wouldn't consider a Lightning a mini truck....but I love Lightnings and any coverage they get is good for me. Would love to see Speedhunters do more truck coverage whether it is Mini trucks, drift trucks , drag trucks, etc. Here in St. Louis there is an 02 (i think) LS swapped blazer that is an awesome sleeper that lurks at the drag strip.


An awesome article about minitrucks. I'm the original owner of my 1986 Nissan 720. Cruising now with only 91k original miles. Yes!!! I remember seeing my first lowered minitruck. It was 1985 on the island of Guam when my dad was in the Air Force and I was in high school. Fell in love with the look and got one. Mine is 30+ years of under construction and will one day get a paint job. One day. Mine was pictured in Readers Rides on two separate occasions.... Truckin 1989 (this was pre Minitruckin magazine) and then November 2005. Minitruckin is far from being dead. Visiting Pick n Pulls and scouring Craigslist are daily adventures for us with the old school minis. Thanks for writing the article.


Built my Mazda mini in 1993, sold in 98. Hunted down and bought back in 2012. Currently in overhaul.


Minitruck builds can be fast too for those performance minded readers... And yes, I'm one of those guys where this was one of my first vehicles, and I'm still building it to this day. One thing about minitruckers, they're some of the most dedicated individuals to ever pick up a wench, and are some of the most entertaining people to be around... Never been to a minitruck show? Try one out lol

David (Woody) Wood

Mini-truckin for life!


I have not one but two minis. The s10 I bought at 16 years old bone stock.


I started the Facebook group Tilt Bed Evolution almost a year ago teaching people how tilt/dancing beds worked and currently have almost 6000 people internationally with tons of people building their own or I sell bed kits. Very active and fun group. Check out my Instagram also @comingupaces7 Very cool article. You are right, it is on a fast comeback.


Current build. Double scissor 5 stage Z-rack.


Jeremy, I've actually wanted to see a tilt bed in person for a very, very, long time. As far as I've been able to tell there were not any in Ontario, and any shown here came across from the states. I am going to join your group!