For the past few years in the world of minitruckin', there has been an ongoing battle between two (or possibly three, however you look at it) different groups: those who believe in building a truck yourself, and others who have no problem with paying for someone else to build their truck, or those who buy a completed truck. Each side slams the other side with insults and opinions, yet nobody's going anywhere.

Not being partial to either side, it is very easy to see the argument from all points of view, but there has never been a statement that indicates the demise of minitruckin' more than this. This one statement has divided this sport to the point that neither group respects each other. This is not progression, this is digression, and it needs to be avoided at all costs.

The Scenarios
We at Mini Truckin' have considered a few different scenarios in "built not bought."

One is a guy who buys a finished truck, doesn't change it, and rolls it to the shows. The person could be new to the scene and doesn't have enough knowledge, or doesn't know where to take it to change it up. Another reason could be he bought the truck because he or she likes it just the way it is, and doesn't feel that it anything needs to change.

Is either one of these people wrong for what they did? Of course not. This may cause you to ask, what about the owner who is taking credit for the build? Isn't it wrong to take the credit for somebody else's work? Yes, it is. However, not every guy who buys a truck does that. In addition, most of the time, the guys who buy built trucks are making them their own by changing things up. What concern is it of yours if they don't change anything on the truck? Is it really worth having a headache over? After all, it wasn't your money that paid for it. This scenario is also the biggest risk taken among the three. The reason being, underneath all the paint, powdercoating, and chrome could lay a disaster. If you don't know what you need to look for when purchasing a custom truck, the chances are high you might end up with a polished turd. Just because people take pride in what they have done to a truck, it doesn't mean that the job was good. On the other hand, if you have done your research and find out that reputable shops did the work, you are probably making a good decision about buying the truck.

The alternative to this is a young and dumb kid, who knows little about the minitruck scene, buys a truck, and tries to play it off as his or her own build. It happens, but if you think about it, with today's technologies (i.e. cameras, computers, internet and Mini Truckin' magazine) someone who buys a truck from the West Coast and takes it to the East Coast-thinking the builder or previous owner won't find out-will eventually get outed. And when the person gets called out on it, the utter humiliation should be satisfaction enough for those who are offended.

Another scenario is the guy who pays to build his ride because he can't, for whatever reason, to build it himself. Maybe he knows how he wants the truck built, but can't wrench to save his life. A lot of builders don't know how to turn wrenches, but they have a vision of what the vehicle should look like. Maybe the guy does know how to spin a wrench, but for some reason doesn't have the time to do so. Or how about this: what if someone, who installs stereo equipment for a living, pays other people to do what they know how to do until his part of the build?

Better yet, four professionals in our sport are building trucks: a fab shop, a body and paint shop, an upholstery shop, and a stereo shop. They all do trade work with each other to build their trucks. Does that mean that the professionals can't build their rides, either?

So, what does all this mean for this group of minitruckers? Does it make them sub-par minitruckers? Is this group at fault for having more money than the time or the lack of knowledge to build trucks? Of course not, but some people out there think so. People work hard for what they earn and that is what pays for that truck to be built. The idea that you should only do it yourself is just plain asinine. We're all minitruckers, it doesn't matter how you acquire your truck, as long as you're out there representing to the fullest.

In the hot-rod community, the guy who buys a finished ride is given a congratulations and a handshake. He might be asked what he wants to do to the vehicle, but if he says, "I'm going to leave it alone," he is never talked down upon or looked at badly. These guys are saving vehicles from the junkyards of America, or from unappreciative people who don't know what they bought and end up destroying the cars.

Therefore, what do you think would happen to all those minitrucks if they weren't sold to new minitruckers? If they weren't bought by minitruckers, they would be shipped off to the junkyards for parts, but more than likely crushed. In most states, any type of frame modification is considered unsafe and therefore illegal to sell, except through private sale. However, what about the rest of the truck?

The junkyard sees it like this: trucks that have shaved doors, tailgates, and fenders, cutout beds, body-drops, (or any other sheetmetal modifications you can think of )make the truck worthless to them and therefore expendable. The truck is worth more to them as scrap metal to be recycled into more steel, so you can do it again on the next project.

Another thing to consider is minitruckers are not made of money and sometimes struggle to keep up. Most guys out there with 40-hour a week jobs need to sell their trucks to try and recoup some of the money spent in their projects in order to start a new one.

Opinions In The Community
We have asked several well-respected members of the minitruckin' community to give us their 2cents on the "built not bought" debate, and here is what they had to say.

Starting out, we have Max Fish of Bio Kustomz. He has been a part of the minitruckin' community since '97, has built more than 30 custom suspensions that have been involved in some type of MT feature, among countless others.

"Built not bought," now there's a phrase that can start an online battle. The problem with that expression is that by its very definition, it separates our industry into two groups: those who built it and those who didn't.

Initially you might think that I (being a shop owner) would prefer everyone to be in the "bought" category, but that is not true. I am fully aware of the reason that I am a shop owner is because I am in the "built" category, and my customers are not. And it's not uncommon for a builder to give me a call for a set of custom spindles or a fuel cell for their project that they are working on. But wait ... they didn't build their own spindles or fuel cell, are they all of a sudden not in the "built" category?

Do you really think there are enough people out there, like me, who are willing to build their own shocks, intake manifold, or spindles to separate an entire industry by "built" or "bought?" How would you judge someone who bought a four-link kit but installed it themselves? What if it was one of those fully bolt-in rear clips with no welding or thinking? If it all came down to truly built or bought, I think I would be standing in a corner with maybe three other guys. It's just an unrealistic separation, let alone an ignorant phrase.

So, how should it be separated? Does it really need to be? I think not! Remember high school Math? How many of you struggled in that class? There were always those few kids who just got it and seemed to breeze through with no problems, while the rest of the class suffered. Did that make those of us, who didn't get it, stupid? Maybe some of us were not programmed to get it and were better at History or English.

Well, this isn't Math class, and if you get a problem wrong on your truck, it could be very costly. Could you imagine how unsafe the roads would be if everyone truly had to build their own trucks?! That's just not a good idea. So here is my idea: Those of you who can build some or most of your own stuff have a right to be proud of your work, whereas the group of you that may not be so mechanically inclined (Ernie Macias is this group's spokesperson) should be welcomed with open arms to come and hang out. They're still minitruckers, just not skilled enough to build their own trucks, or maybe they just have more money than time and choose to buy someone else's truck, so that they can enjoy the scene right away for half of the cost.

My employee, Steve, recently featured an S-10 in MT, it's a project that he bought from someone and finished it for himself. Where would he be categorized? He bought it and built it ... geeze, what a loser! However, if the industry still insists on drawing that line, I'll stand on my side with those other three guys and enjoy my soda.

Brian Goude has been in the scene for more than 10 years, he is the president of Forbidden Fantasy. In that time, he has been one of the leaders in producing the Forbidden Fantasy Show and Shine from its inception. He has dealt with the built not bought subject on several occasions, especially in regards when judging at show; such as why So-and-So should have received more points, because he built his ride.

Built vs. bought is a question that, in this scene, has and probably will always be argued. The tone, however, is changing now that there are so many trucks already done, or half-done for such a good price. Unlike a classic or muscle car, our trucks do not gain value no matter what we do to them. It comes down to what you want your end product to be.

Let me give you a personal example. I bought a '97 Tacoma, untouched. A few of my buddies and I 'bagged, four-linked, and body-dropped the truck. I had the truck shaved up and painted. I rolled about a year this way. Unfortunately for me, the bodywork was done incorrectly, so off it went to the paint shop again. Three years and $5,000 later, I got half the truck back in pieces. I ended up selling the truck, because after all this I was pretty sick to my stomach.

Knowing I would be building another truck one day, I just waited patiently for a good deal to come along. Finally surfing one night, I came across an '00 Tacoma. The truck was already 'bagged, four-linked, shaved up, and painted. The biggest thing that caught my eye was it only had 50,000 miles on it. The owner joined the military and the truck sat for years but ran perfectly.

Now, why would I buy a truck that was pretty much finished? The reason was it was far from finished. I did my research and to find a Tacoma, of a certain year and amount of mileage, it would be about $7,000 to $9,000. Therefore, instead of buying a stock one for $7,000, spending another $4,000 in suspension, labor, and parts; I just saved myself a butt-load of coin. By saving the money, I could do what I wanted to the truck. I could make this truck mine by adding my flair. I will body-drop, repaint, and eventually hook up the interior.

Now there were some drawbacks. Before I just jumped into buying the truck, I made sure the suspension was up to par; meaning I didn't have to redo anything. It is cheaper to start with stock suspension than to redo someone else's poor work. So, the moral of my story is why should I buy stock, when something was cheaper than stock, with almost all the modifications I was going to spend my money on anyway?

Of course, I will catch some flack, because I didn't do every single thing from scratch. I have noticed the people who make those comments are the ones rolling around in trucks with some janky suspension. But it's OK to them, because they did it in their own garages, right?

Erik Harbour is the western regional sales rep for Kinetik Power Cells and has been involved in the scene for more than 10 years. He has owned two cover trucks, in which both were designed and built in the same fashion.

Bought or built? Well, here is how I see it. Many of us in the scene can all do some cool things to our rides personally, and of course, we all know people who can help us as well, but on the other hand, there are a lot of great custom shops that can do it all. Personally speaking, I think if you simply pay the shop and then go pick up your newly custom mini, then it has been bought. On the other hand, if you take it to a shop and are at the shop with them late nights before the deadline, or running errands, or turning a wrench, or if you are so technically inclined and did most of the work yourself, then you can say it was built.

Now, here is where my latest project came into the picture. When I set out to build my Dodge, the first thing I did was see the goal, then told my close friends what I was thinking. Immediately afterward, ideas started flying around, as my friends helped me to cover every aspect of the truck. As close friends in this lifestyle, we began on a project that was both bought and built at the same time. This was a case of when time was short, the money was there, along with friends to help out, and so we could truly build one hell of a tight ride!

With my Dodge project, I knew what needed to be accomplished, the right people to get the job done, all while I was working, planning a booth for SEMA, and helping to wrench on the truck all night. Being the Western Regional Rep for Kinetik, I was the wiring guru of the project, and of course, knowing and being in the scene for this long let me learn how to block-sand, wet-sand, run lines, etc. But I'm not the expert there, so I called in some help from my friends. Todd Faulkner came in as the suspension, paint and body expert-and quite honestly-he had his hands on the entire build. Then of course, I could do some audio installing. My boy, Brent, from Alpine is the king at custom fabrication, so he jumped in and started shaping and molding the custom-made audio enclosures for the build.

All of these things came out the way they did because we all did what we were good at. Yes, in a sense I "bought" their time to do what they were best at, but at the same time I was there helping to get it all to the final look you see now. Even at the shows, you will see I normally back off the truck and let Todd and the gang get all the credit. Heck, if you have seen me at shows, you know that I don't even get to drive it ... ha ha!

Now, if you are the kind of guy who bought his ride from a fellow minitrucker and you get tired of hearing "Oh, that is what's-his-name's old truck." Well, get out there with your friends and local shops and start giving it your own touch. I'm sure there are things you see that you would have done different. Maybe a new paintjob, or maybe a body-drop, if it hasn't already been done. Buying a sick truck is in no way a bad thing; but if you see something you want done to give it your own look, do it and make it your own masterpiece.

In my opinion, it's not about building some top-secret truck that you want to do all yourself and possibly hack up in the process-just to say you did it all. It's about friends helping friends. When the time comes for me to jump in on their builds, you better believe I'll be right there with them. This lifestyle is about meeting new people, making lasting friendships, and having the time of our lives doing what we love.

Will McCloskey has been involved in both the hot-rod and minitruck communities for more than 10 years. In that time, he has 'bagged a lot of vehicles, both minitrucks and hot rods. As a builder, his pride lies in the fact that when a truck rolls out of his shop, it doesn't have to come back because of faulty work.

Bought not built is a misunderstood and overused form of hating, unique to our little custom-truck community. To understand it, you have to look at who we are as a group. In the eyes of the general public, we are an association of misfits and freaks who cut up perfectly good vehicles to make them do things they were never intended or designed to do. Usually on a shoestring budget, and throughout long periods of time, we will chop, cut, shave, paint, 'bag, body-drop, and form our trucks into a rolling expression of our own personalities.

This brings me to my point. It's a very personal journey we take with our project and resources. To build a truck involves every spare dollar, every spare moment, and usually the help from most of our friends and family.

Therefore, take this scenario into consideration: In steps a guy, Joe, who has more cash and less time then we have. Joe buys truck, Joe goes to a show, and Joe gets crap from a the work of a bunch of complete strangers. Never mind that he never could have built this truck for the same amount he paid for it, or that he didn't have to ruin his marriage to do it. Not to mention that he-like most of us-lacks the skills and equipment to tackle a project on this scale, anyway. Therefore, he bought it just the way it sits, like a used Prius off the lot. Therein lays the rub.

By buying a completed truck, Joe is driving and showing someone else's blood, sweat, and years. However, does that mean he can't appreciate his investment? Yes, he can, and maybe when he becomes more experienced with custom trucks, it may inspire him to build his own someday.

Personally, I don't really care. I'm actually glad to have Joe around. I bust my ass and bank account to build something, rail it for a minute, take it to a few shows, lose interest in it, then sell it to build another. For me, the build is the fun part. Without someone there to buy it from me, someone who wants it, and rubs it with a diaper for years, then the cycle ends.

We should be glad that our scene is growing to include the uninitiated. Joe may not know the feeling of getting a virgin run by his club mates, stripped half naked and freezing with a Coors Light box on his head at Reso. Nevertheless, thanks to him, our trucks and our scene live on.

In The End
Honestly, this argument is about as worthless as the Hatfield-McCoy feud, which lasted over a century and that almost erased two families from the face of the Earth. The only difference is, instead of using guns, we use words. They get posted up all over discussion boards, slung out in chat rooms, and for what? The one second of gratification that you feel after you say it.

Instead of cutting someone down, why not find out about the person? Find out where they came from, what they are about. You never know what common interests you may have; we can guarantee at least one. What everyone needs to understand is the fact that we are all here for the same reason: the sport of minitruckin'.

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