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Truck Topics

Custom Rigs: Worth It or Not?

By Jason McGlone
Posted Feb 28th 2011 3:16AM

Ah, the custom rig.  In some ways, it can be akin to the 1950’s pinup attached to the teenage boy’s wall: an ideal, a dream, something to aspire to.  Custom rigs, no matter the customizations, are a reflection of what you want in a truck: they come with everything you want, how you want it.  They’re essentially the perfect truck for you.  Of course, they also come with something else: a not-quite-as-beautiful price tag.  

In terms of customization, you could always take the route of customizing a little at a time with the truck you’ve got, as well.  Many folks decide to get things done this way, despite the fact that in the long run, they may be paying more.  This has the advantage, though, of stretching out such a large purchase into more manageable, and perhaps “appreciate-able” chunks.  Going a bit at a time ensures that you’ve always got a new toy in the truck, which certainly has some appeal to it.  

Opinions about the best route to take, as I’m sure you can imagine, are more or less all over the map, but fall into what I’d classify as one of two camps: the “Of course they’re worth it” bunch, and the “I like to modify as I go” crew.  I can’t really say that either are wrong, and that it all boils down to personal preference.  There are, however, certain things to take into account on either side.  

If you’re looking at buying a customized rig out of the gate, you already know that you’re going to be looking at a higher price tag than if you’re buying the same make/model as a stock unit.  While the chances you’ll be paying more on a loan for such a rig are pretty high, I wonder how all of it affects the chances you’ll be driving the rig for longer.  My thinking is that since you’re driving what’s essentially the “truck of your dreams,” so to speak, and you’re enjoying everything it has to offer, that you’re more likely to drive the truck for a more extended period of time, and therefore end up turning a somewhat larger, longer-term profit out of a custom that you love.  

This is, of course, pure conjecture and nothing more.  

On the flipside of that coin, it would also seem that continual customization could theoretically move over to the truck itself.  “Well, I’ve done everything I can do with this truck, maybe I’ll move on to another.”  The ability (and by “ability,” I mean “pocketbook”) to just do this at a whim, of course, is pretty rare.  

Again--pure conjecture.  

In either direction, you’ve got what seems to be endless possibilities at your fingertips; just about anything you’d ever want to come in your customized rig is available as an ala carte upgrade later on.  One consideration you’ll have to make is with respect to price changes in the products down the road; upgrades, depending upon their nature and whether they’re tied to the somewhat volatile conditions of the transportation market (and lots of things are) can vary in price from high to low, especially if you’re something of an early adopter.  So too, of course, can the tried and true items come with a price tag that can make you think twice every now and again.  Thing is, if it’s something that you need, or something that’s going to make you more comfortable or affect your costs in some way, that price tag becomes a bit less impactful in the long run.  

In the end, as I noted earlier, whether you’re buying a custom rig right off the bat or customizing bit by bit as you go, it really comes down to personal choice and how you’re most comfortable handling your truck.  The bottom line is that you’re running a vehicle that’s supposed to be making money for you, and spending too much money on customizations, if you’re not well-prepared on a fiscal level for something like that, can cut into profits in a significant way.  That’s truly not good for anyone--most of all you.  

Your best bet, as you’re no doubt aware, is to pay close attention to just how far in the black you’re running.  Is your truck paid off?  If not, how close is it?  If you’re continually scrambling to get your truck payment from month-to-month, it can be difficult to sensibly justify--or for that matter, truly enjoy--customizations, whether they came with the truck or whether they’re occasional add-ons.  It might also be a solid suggestion to prioritize upgrades according to whether they’ll actually improve your profits at the end of the day.  If it’s a customization that will end up making you money in the long run, it should probably move closer to the front of the line than, say, that high-end sound system.  Ultimately, your truck is a tool.  If it’s getting the job done in an effective and efficient way, then you’ve got the right tool for the job.  Everything else?  Gravy. 


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