Johnny VonSlochteren is known for more than just being a man with a difficult name to spell. For years now, Johnny has been making a name for himself around the custom truck scene in Colorado as a premier customizer. In fact, many of the trucks I have featured in the magazine from Colorado, Johnny has had a hand in building.
Though born in New Jersey, Johnny grew up in Commerce City, Colorado, an industrial suburb of Denver that, for years, has been the center of trucking on the Front Range of Colorado. At just 37 years old, Johnny has been doing professional body work since 1990, having taken body shop classes in high school. With a father who was involved in trucking, Johnny started working on big trucks after spending six months at an auto body repair shop, realizing he didn’t like working on cars. Eventually, Johnny found himself working at Rush Peterbilt in Denver. Though he is a truck driver now, Johnny still operates his shop, Vons Body Shop, located in Lochbuie, just north of Denver.
Johnny stresses, however, that he is not a truck builder – he prefers terms like refurbishing or rebuilding. In every job, Johnny tries to maintain the integrity of the manufacturer, as well as any other people who have worked on the truck.
Johnny’s calling card is a unique, bright yellow pickup truck (see photo). Though the pickup sits on a 1993 Dodge 3/4 ton 4×4 chassis, that’s where the resemblance to a Dodge ends. Since Johnny prefers not to be considered a “builder” of trucks, he said that he has just “re-purposed” the unique little pickup to his own tastes. Constructed to resemble a 359, much of the body has hand-rolled panels, using only the doors, hood top, and window pillars from a real 359, and then various pieces of a 379 grille. Under the hood, the truck gets its power from a 5.9L 24-valve Cummins engine routed through a 5-speed manual transmission.
One thing that Johnny takes pride in about the pickup is that everything actually functions. The air breathers work as air breathers, the fuel tanks are true fuel tanks, and all of the truck’s horns (the air horns and train horns) work. Other features include a 14.5” RoadWorks visor, 5” bullhauler stacks, three Kenworth grille bars, 7-LED lights, Valley Chrome bumpers, and custom Peterbilt emblems by Vinnie’s Design.
The pint-sized Peterbilt is no less a big truck on the inside as it is on the outside, featuring two air-ride seats, an aluminum steering wheel by Colorado Customs on a Billet Specialties column, and a full interior done by Auto Weave Upholstery in Lakewood, CO. Finishing it all out, the pickup sits on Alcoa rims with Michelin tires and has bright yellow paint. Plain and simple, wherever the unique pickup goes, it turns heads.
But Johnny has worked on far more than this little yellow Peterbilt. When asked if he has an area of expertise, he will tell you that his primary job when working on a truck is to do whatever is needed to get the truck looking the way the customer wants it. Whether its doing fabrication, mounting, body work, or paint, he’ll do the work (or knows someone who can). Some notable rigs 10-4 Magazine has featured in the past that Johnny has worked on include Howard Elliot’s maroon 379 Peterbilt (see photo), Bryan O’Leary’s black, maroon, and gold flattop Peterbilt, Spike Fuller’s green 379, Chris Peruzzi’s stretched-out blue Peterbilt (see photo), Gary Disher’s “Gone Postal” Mack cabover (see photo), and Jeremy Green’s black Pete 379 flattop (see photo). As you can tell, Johnny’s trucks of choice are Peterbilts, but he’ll work on more than just the red ovals. Though Johnny does have other trucks he’s working on at the moment, he has recently scaled back the custom work on big trucks, preferring to keep it as more of a hobby rather than, as it had been recently, a full-blown job. For the past six months, he has been driving for Kenny Lamb of Lamb Transport, hauling cars with a 2005 purple and white flattop Peterbilt and a seven-car trailer.
Between driving a truck (he had to leave for a load as soon as we finished the photo shoot) and working on trucks, Johnny doesn’t have a lot of spare time. The few moments he can get away from the big trucks he likes to go camping and four-wheeling with his wife of 17 years, Angie, and two daughters, Ashlee and Kaylee. Johnny also enjoys riding his motorcycles and going to car shows when he can, but don’t bug him when he’s on vacation with his family – that time is sacred time for Johnny.
Johnny couldn’t begin to list all the people to thank for where he is now. But, first and foremost, he’d thank his family for their support and encouragement, and his father, for getting him interested in trucks and trucking in the first place. He would also thank his friends for their support throughout his career thus far, and, not surprisingly, his many devoted customers he’s had the pleasure to work with over the past few years.
We at 10-4 Magazine would like to thank Johnny for all his time. Between driving full-time for Lamb Transport, working on customs trucks, and still having a home life, Johnny’s time is very limited, and we appreciate him making room for us in his hectic schedule.
Johnny VonSlochteren is a humble man, taking credit quietly for only what he has done on his customer’s trucks. He makes no bones about giving credit to the other customizers, painters, and parts suppliers who make a truck come together. He’s also a hard worker, and it shows in the level of work you will find on the trucks he’s worked on. Whether it’s over-the-top custom work or simply hiding the hinges on a door, Johnny’s signature is top-quality work.
If the number of his trucks we’ve featured in the magazine is any indication of success, Johnny VonSlochteren will always have a place in creating wild trucks that still work. We look forward to seeing the many more trucks we will undoubtedly feature that Johnny has worked on, and wish him success with both his body shop and driving.