Celebrating Black History Month With The Custom Truckers Car Club

Custom Truckers Car Club Car Show
Custom Truckers Car Club Car Show

More than cars at this local car club.

A couple of years ago, I had the privilege of meeting a member of a local car club that has made a huge impact on its community: Custom Truckers Car Club in Tyler, Texas. That member just happened to be legendary NFL Hall of Famer Earl Campbell. However, while the Custom Truckers started as a social club, the organization means so much more to the Tyler community. 

Founding Member Windell Hawkins Stands In Beside His 1956 Two Tone Chevy. Photo: Holli Fourniquet, Gt Garage Talk

Founding member Windell Hawkins stands in beside his 1956 two tone Chevy. Photo: Holli Fourniquet, GT Garage Talk

The History of Custom Truckers

The club began 51 years ago. It’s one of the longest-running social clubs in Tyler. The founding members were all friends who also owned Chevrolet trucks made from 1955-59. In 1972, the group decided to make it official and form the Custom Truckers. Their motto is “Big Brothers Helping Others.” 

Over the years, the group has made it a point to give back to the community. They filled a need that wasn’t being met. It’s an organization that holds respect and honor within the Tyler community. In the ‘80s, Custom Truckers founded the Tyler Juneteenth celebration with a parade and free food in the park. This is a celebration that continues today!

“When I was a kid, the Juneteenth celebration and parade was the highlight of my entire summer,” Custom Truckers member Darrell Guthrie said. “I looked forward to it all year, and couldn’t wait to grow up and join the club. The members were well respected, and I looked up to them.” 

Earl Campbell earned the nickname “The Tyler Rose” during his NFL career as a Houston Oiler. Campbell said the truck club made a huge impact on him as a high schooler.

“The Custom Truckers chaperoned our events when I was in high school,” Campbell said. “That’s how I met several of the members. When I became an adult, I joined because I wanted to help their cause and own a truck of my own.”

Ct Gray Stands Beside His 1956 Chevy. Photo: Holli Fourniquet, Gt Garage Talk

CT GRay stands beside his 1956 Chevy. Photo: Holli Fourniquet, GT Garage Talk

How Do You Get In?

Specially, all Custom Truckers members own Chevrolet trucks made between 1955-1959 with stepside only. No fleetside allowed! In other words, if your truck has a smooth bedside, you’re not allowed in the club. No, it’s not a requirement that you build it yourself. However, you might endure some ribbing from the others if you don’t.

You might be wondering, why so specific? Well, these trucks are known as the “Task Force” series. They were among the first to blur the lines between work truck and passenger truck. Task Force trucks are light-medium duty. You can immediately recognize their signature wraparound “Sweep-Sight” windshield and stepside truck bed. Therefore, they are a favorite among collectors. 

Additionally, the truck represented an important step forward in family trucks, according to Chevrolet. The trucks offered features that were forward-thinking for its time including. These include “Nu-Flex” bench seats, advertised as providing a better ride, thanks to improved springs and multiple “air relief valves.” Plus, they had safety features such as windows with exterior moldings. These windows were known as “Glass Guard.” They showed the way forward in terms of protection and durability, as they were less prone to breakage.

The Custom Wood Bed Was One Of My Favorite Features. Photo By Holli Fourniquet, Gt Garage Talk

The custom wood bed was one of my favorite features. Photo: Holli Fourniquet, GT Garage Talk

Beautiful Custom Trucks

Within the club, no two trucks are alike. These trucks have been restored, modified, and refurbished. Then, Custom Truckers adorn them with custom paint colors, fully custom interiors, and suspension and powertrain upgrades.

Perhaps my favorite feature is the custom wood beds that some of the trucks are now sporting. It is a truly a beautiful sight to see these trucks coming down the street in a parade. While writing this story, they invited me to one of their monthly meetings. We drew a crowd when they lined the trucks up for a photo. 

“Once you start, it’s addicting,” said Windell Hawkins, Custom Truckers founding member. “Most members have multiple trucks and still want more.” 

The Custom Truckers Impact

Today, Custom Truckers still participates in the Juneteenth celebration. Plus, they have an annual car show and several local parades including the famous Texas Rose Festival. 

Actually, the Car Show is a fundraiser for scholarships! Last year, 250 classic vehicles entered into the car show. Thousands of people attended the event on the brick streets in Downtown Tyler. Athough the goal was to give away five to seven scholarships, the club was able to give away nine scholarships to high school students. Over the years, the students who have received scholarships have become business owners, community leaders, and have even come back to Tyler to join the club.

Custom Truckers also gives away dinners at Thanksgiving and Christmas to families in need. 

“The club is known for doing good within the community for more than 50 years,” Guthrie said. “This group has made the difference in a family being able to keep the lights on, kids going to youth camp, and so much more over the years.”

When asked what they owe the success of the club to, Custom Truckers president Lawrence Harper said, “We wouldn’t be here without the support of the community.” 

To learn more about Tyler’s Custom Truckers, visit their website at CustomTruckersOfTyler.com. Or, attend their annual Car Show in Downtown Tyler on June 24, 2023. Seeing the trucks yourself will amaze you!

Custom Truckers Car Club Pin

I'm Holli Fourniquet; wife to Cory, mommy to 4-year old Tucker, and long time servant to our yappy chihuahua,... More about Holli Fourniquet