This concept illustration created by Chris Brown is a 1986 Dodge Ram – it's a project I started in 2006 during my tenure as editor of CUSTOM CLASSIC TRUCKS. The Dodge was billed as the "High School Custom." If one Google's Dodge Ram D150RT the article will pop up with images. The premise was, what could a high school kid or anyone who wanted to get behind the wheel of classic truck build for super low-bucks if they tried? I bought the Dodge for $500.

After a few mechanical tech features it wasn't long before the High School Custom went to college and the students in Riverside City College's autobody program got busy. The RCC instructors spearheading the project were Jerry Sievers and Mark Williams. The Dodge was at the college for almost a dozen semesters and provided numerous students a hands-on experience bodyworking and painting a "complete" from start to finish.

The drive from my Orange County base to RCC is just a little over 40 miles. I loaded up a gallon of Summit Racing's DTM epoxy primer and headed out to the college more than a few times during the project. There were students male and female alike who were quite dedicated to doing the best job they could. However, there was one know-it-all guy who really stands out in my memory of some of the trials and tribulations the students endured getting the Dodge ready for paint. I was watching the know-it-all grind the passenger side door down from silver bare steel into a cherry red glow that left a smoldering trail of warped purple metal. Typical of a know-it-all, he wasn't open to suggestions and the students around him cringed because they knew one of them was going to have to clean up his mess.