Elephants In The Room

The vibrant custom big-rig scene means business.

Story: Alex Bernstein

Photography: Roger Snider

The custom big-rig scene is one you probably don’t know much about. You’ve seen every type of ride, from two to four wheels—but how ’bout 18? RIDES was recently introduced to photographer Roger Snider, who, for the last five years, has devoted much of his time and energy to this burgeoning scene. His bread and butter, the website Ultra Rigs of the World, has taken off commercially, editorially and as a personal art portfolio. We’re happy we bumped into him, because some of the work on these trucks rivals anything we’ve seen in the car world we usually show you. Truckin’ is badass, plain and simple, and Roger’s a real enthusiast. His passion for big rigs is contagious, and it showed us something fresh. The freshness you see here, a hot-rod-inspired big-rig convertible, is the only one of its kind, with over 3,000 man-hours invested.

“I see these trucks as large-scale sculptures that reflect a pop-culture aesthetic of the society they represent. I am really surprised that these trucks, which are so much more detailed than the trucks back [in the ’80s], haven’t been featured in more films and TV today. I hope my photography makes Hollywood wake up and include them again,” he says. And it’s that kind of enthusiasm, along with hope and aspiration, that tells a story of just how relevant these rigs are. Yeah, the scene is about as niche as they come, but when you hear about a $500,000 Kenworth, or a cabin with a couch and 20 subs, you know you’re in a different league.

If there’s any truck out there right now that pushes the point that custom trucks are legit, worth taking note of and doing it bigger than anyone, it’s Jeff Botelho’s lowrider Peterbilt Cab, which started as a burned-to-the-ground, beat-up truck.

Every year there’s a big-rig build-off in Louisville, Kentucky, and the rules are simple: Build whatever you want from a Class 8 truck (the classic big rig) in 90 days. Jeff was invited, and he didn’t disappoint. “I had to finish my other project first,” he says. “It took me five days to overhaul the motor in itself, so I only had 83 days to put this thing together,” he laughs. And the end result, as you can see, is straight ridiculous. Everything on this rig is custom. Full air-ride suspension dumps this truck on its smaller 24s and SUV tires. The motor is all chrome, while the cabin houses custom fiberglass, some sick bass and a billet steering wheel. Simple, clean and to the point, just like a hot rod. “My dad was always into hot rods, so they’ve been a huge inspiration to me,” he explains.

The scene is growing pretty much at the pace a big rig accelerates from a stoplight, but that’s fine. The members of this crew are tight-knit and love what they do. It’s just a small scene for some big rides, and there’s nothin’ wrong with that.

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