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OBS TRENDS THEN NOW | A Look Back to  Take a Look Forward

Hritik Godara November 10, 2021 C10 Builders Guide

If you’ve been in the custom truck scene or automotive industry for any amount of time, you’ve most likely seen the wave of popularity come and go and come back again for the OBS Chevy trucks. An iconic body style, especially among lowered custom truck enthusiasts, the ’88-’98 Chevy/GMC has made a major impact on the custom automotive aftermarket for generations. If you’re reading this entire magazine dedicated to this icon, you’re probably well aware of their rise back to the spotlight. 

On these pages, you’ve certainly seen some of the amazing OBS builds currently touring the country and dropping jaws coast to coast. But where did it all start? What were these OBS builds like in their heyday? What’s changed over the last few decades, and where are we headed with these groundbreaking OBS build of today? We took a stab at answering some of these questions and more, looking back to appreciate the strong roots of these iconic sport trucks and looking forward at what’s to come.

We broke it down into a few different categories to sort through, covering some major topics in a limited amount of space, so sit back, crack a cold Miller, and enjoy a trip down memory lane!

 [OBS Build Recipe]


What were the most important OBS mods tackled in the early years? Well, the ’90s Sport Truck styled OBS recipe went something like this: wild paint, smaller billet wheels, a raked hotrod style stance, BIG stereo and high-performance upgrades under the hood.


Current build trends see a heavy focus on full frame builds, HUGE billet wheels, a bit cleaner single-color paint style, full custom interiors, and some body mods here and there. But on most current builds, the emphasis is definitely in the frame/suspension work and flat-out bodied trucks on big billets.

[OBS Suspension Differences]


The major difference in the early OBS builds verses now probably comes in the way of suspension. Back in the day a nice Belltech, McGaughys or DJM static drop would get you low enough, with a few of the brave ones tackling some air-ride, and even fewer making it all the way to the body drop arena.


Today, we have full-frame manufacturers pumping out full custom frames to get your OBS laid flat on the ground with wheel sizes that would make them “old guys” cringe. Technology has certainly come a long way in the way of reliable air-ride suspension options, and the stance of an OBS truck now is flat out or nothing at all.

[OBS Interior Differences]


Back in the day, if you weren’t rocking full tweed and fleck-stone paint with a box and four 12s in the back, you just weren’t doing it right. Billet overlays on everything for the ballers, a lot has certainly changed in the interior/stereo game.


Just like suspension, interior has come a long way in a few decades. Companies like TMI offer full custom interior options, and the creature comforts afforded these new style builds definitely blows away anything from the ’90s and early 2000s. You see a lot more current builds actually going full custom hotrod style interior, custom gauges, hidden stereo systems and Bluetooth technology galore with iPads flushed in headliners and more.

[OBS Engine Differences]


The factory Chevy 350 or 454 engine was one of the pieces of the puzzle that made these trucks so dang popular, but of course superchargers and big engine builds were still going on back then.


But now, it’s all about the reliability and performance of LS swaps. Power adders are more reliable and consistent as well, and full-painted, cerakoted and well-dressed engine bays have most definitely come a long way from the rattle can bays of the past.

[Lifestyle, Music, Clothing Trends]


Back in the ’90s, music and style went hand in hand. I’m talking neon razor sunglasses, board shorts, Bad Boy Club tanks and bumping Beastie Boys cruising down PCH. Certainly, much more simple times, care-free and just outright FUN.


Styles, music and clothing all come and go and change frequently through the years, but old school rap and hip-hop tends to still grip the custom truck crowd. Clothing has also made a major change where more and more enthusiast clothing brands have emerged and cater to specific genres of custom automotive scenes. A ton of truck specific and even OBS-specific clothing lines are out there now, but a Dr. Dre CD will still bridge the gap between generations if needed.

[Shows, Internet and Information]

We all know that the world has changed and continues to change—some good, some bad and some just different. Activities on the weekend, shows, meets and cruises have all changed from the past (especially with our current madness, but don’t get us started on all that!). Gone are the days of hanging out at malls or beaches with custom trucks. Now you’re more likely to scroll through your phone and check out the latest build via IG or your favorite FB groups.

The fact that we show off online all the time has had a major impact on the excitement (or lack thereof) when you see that “new debut” truck at its first show because you’ve already seen a thousand pics of it online. But one good thing that’s come from the massive amounts of information available at our fingertips is the ability to learn and customize trucks in your garage. In the past, people used to keep secret tricks to themselves and sort of a cult following and secretive faction for certain mods or info. Now it’s a huge community that usually doesn’t mind helping by giving out free information (as long as they get tagged in the post, ha ha ha).

[Final Thoughts and Where We’re Headed]

The OBS has obviously been a love of ours for decades, and it definitely isn’t going anywhere. Builds are cleaner yet more insane than ever before. The availability of quality parts, information and custom solutions are at our fingertips. And this particular truck will continue to be “The Heartbeat of America.” It will be interesting to see where the future of customizing “street trucks” is headed as we step into the electric vehicle age, but we have a feeling that truck guys will always find a way. A way to be lower, faster and cooler than the next—we’re excited to see the future of the custom truck as we continue to pay homage to the past.




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