Mini-Trucking and its Effect on Society The vehicle code handbook states that any modification done to a vehicle to alter it from its original state violates the law. That single sentence has created more problems for custom vehicle owners than can be imagined. Yet, at the same time, it has generated massive amounts of money for the state of California. Modifying one's vehicle sets it apart from others and makes a statement about the owner's individuality. Over the past decade, hacking up a vehicle, putting a trick paint job on it, and developing an "out-of-control" sound system has evolved into a sport, not just a hobby.

As with everything, though, there is always someone or something to try and put a stop to citizens just trying to enjoy them-selves. These are the police. Of course if not done properly, a weld could break or an airbag could pop and someone driving could lose control of a vehicle and hurt themselves or even kill themselves or someone else. It is the job of the police to try to regulate this sport. The state doesn't want a bunch of lowered trucks dragging on the street, knocking off road dots, or playing their music too loud when driving through a neighborhood at 3 am. But most of the time when someone is told not to do something it makes him or her want to do it even more.

Altering vehicles has been around for a very long time. There are also professionals who are in this sport to make a living. "Mini-trucks", as they are often referred to as, generate a lot of money and jobs for everyone. Shops are created where a vehicle can be taken to modify it in any way imaginable. There are councils for car and truck clubs so the sport stays organized. Police are hired to keep these vehicles off of the road.

When a cop pulls a mini-truck over, it's usually because of it being too low, or having the stereo system up to loud. But when looking over the vehicle a dozen other violations become apparent. A few of these violations are: no door handles, no windshield wipers, a tinted windshield, frame modifications, or a after market steering wheel. Yet, despite all of the repercussions that may come from altering a vehicle, it is the sheer enjoyment of creativity that gathers so many fans to the sport. People are always trying to come up with new ways to express their creativity through their vehicles. Different body or frame modifications can be seen at every truck show, in the parking lot at the mall, or even driving by on the freeway.

Every color imaginable has been painted on the metal canvas of every type of vehicle on the road today. Some even have multiple colors in various images displayed on the hoods, sides and tailgates. One of the most popular images of the past decade are flames. These different displays of creativity are an excellent way to draw wanted and unwanted attention to the driver and to the vehicle. Imagine this scenario: a mini-truck with bright blue flames stretching from bumper to roll pan, dragging the frame on the ground below, throwing twenty feet of sparks behind it, and playing music that is felt over a football field away. Isn't someone going look?

Every idea that someone sees sparks something new for someone else to try. A truck on eighteen inch rims laying it's frame all the way down on the ground, inspires someone to be daring and try the same thing, but with twenty inch rims. It's a highly competitive game to have the most innovative ideas on the best truck around. But everything that raises another eyebrow also raises the eyebrows of the police.

Most people don't even care about the tickets they get; some even brag about how many they have received. It's all about having the best thing on four (sometimes three) wheels to ever roll around. Everything can get very expensive though. To put a truck on airbags is about four thousand dollars. A good paint job will cost anywhere from five hundred dollars to over ten thousand dollars. On top of that there is: stereo systems, alarms, tinted windows, rims and any other modification you can think of.

By the time a truck is finished and is in show quality, expenses will be teetering between twenty and thirty thousand dollars, not including the cost of the truck itself. Take that amount of money times the average amount of vehicles at a well-planned truck show equals the amount of money that is generated by this sport, on average that equals about sixteen to twenty million dollars worth of investment at any given truck show. Looking back on those numbers creates more people who want to get involved in this profitable environment. Companies often take money out of their own pockets to help out those who want to be the best but at the same time advertise for the business that is helping them. All of these different aspects of the mini-trucking sport affect it everyday and offer some surprising situations. Not everything can be the way it was originally intended, compromises always have to be made (modify a vehicle and drive it on the road, accept the fact that a ticket may be received).

These things happen everyday and are apparently accepted, for the most part, by society. But this situation has many more positive effects on society than it does negative ones. All of the people that modify their own vehicle are just trying to have some individuality, something that is theirs and no one else's, but also trying to have some fun along the way.


Finnegan, Mike. "Yo, I Drive a Bucket". Mini-Trucking. November 2001;
86 Trick, Just Plain. Homepage. 10 March. 2002 web.