SEMA 2015: 1952 Chevy by Wheels Unlimited Kustom

1952-chevy-desert-sunset-profileThe SEMA Show is the world’s largest automotive trade show, and it has vehicles and parts to appeal to every type of car enthusiast. Spend a day roaming around the various halls of the Las Vegas Convention center and you will find everything from import performance parts to off-road accessories to autocross and drag racing vendors. One thing that is a bit under-represented at SEMA is Kustom car culture.

The “DIY” mindset of the Kustom car world praises finding and scavenging parts from junkyards, other cars, and above all, custom fabrication. This type of hot rodding is not about ordering crate engines or reproduction parts from a catalog, but about putting in the sweat equity to create something truly original – a car that satisfies the artistic vision of the builder. In a sense, it’s the opposite of these big name companies selling cookie-cutter speed parts to the masses. However, you can still find a few true Kustoms at SEMA if you look hard enough.

In 2014, we featured a wild 1950 Chevrolet “Vanilla Shake” built by Donn Lowe. In 2015, we came across another amazing car, this 1952 Chevrolet called “Desert Sunset,” which was built by none other than Gene Winfield! Continue reading

SEMA 2015: 1965 Dodge Dart SL by Big Oak Garage

1965-dart-sl-profileHot Rodding may have begun in southern California, but the guys at Big Oak Garage in Hokes Bluff, Alabama have certainly perfected the craft. They have given the “Big Oak” treatment to this 1965 Dodge Dart, which I saw on display at the 2015 SEMA Show in Las Vegas.

The car’s bright green and chrome look caught my attention right away! The color is actually a stock Mopar color called “Green With Envy,” which I thought was very cool. You don’t see too many of these cars around, especially at a show like SEMA which is dominated by pro-touring Camaro and Mustang builds. The Dart stands out, and in a good way. Continue reading

SEMA 2015: 1969 Ford Mustang by Goolsby Customs

1969-mustang-goolsby-customs-profileDo you remember Goolsby Customs from Bessemer, Alabama? A while back, we covered their 1969 Camaro Convertible build from SEMA 2013. They were back at SEMA 2015 with an all-new creation: a 1969 Ford Mustang. The car belongs to Tim and Cici Spencer, and we couldn’t wait to check it out!

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SEMA 2015: 1949 Cadillac Convertible by Ryan’s Rod and Kustom

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Cadillac has always been the top tier automotive brand in the General Motors family. They have the biggest cars, the most powerful engines, and the largest price tags. Their symbolism as a product of quality, prestige, and luxury is known throughout the world. This makes them a popular target for hot rodders, low riders, and other customizers.

This particular Cadillac is a 1949 Convertible and was built by Chris Ryan of Ryan’s Rod & Kustom in Ninety Six, South Carolina. I saw it on display at the 2015 SEMA Show in Las Vegas. Continue reading

SEMA 2015: 1970 Dodge Charger Tantrum by Speedkore

1970-charger-tantrum-profileGone are the days when building a hot rod meant swapping in a junkyard motor and some bolt-ons to any old jalopy. The collector car market is now dominated by elite restoration shops that completely deconstruct and reassemble the classics of yesterday as modern hot rods. These cars are adorned with precision machined parts, exotic materials like titanium and carbon fiber, and one-off fabricated parts. In many cases, these frame-off resto-mods may take one to three years to build and cost upwards of $150,000 or more!

Hot rodding has become an over-the-top, “mine’s-bigger-than-yours” competition of insane proportions. The latest example of this comes from SpeedKore Performance in Grafton, Wisconsin. Their 1970 Dodge Charger “Tantrum” is one of the wildest custom car builds I have ever seen.

In 1970, the only people working with carbon fiber would have been the aviation industry and NASA. This space-age material is incredibly lightweight and strong. At the time this car rolled off the production line, it would have been unthinkable to have such materials in a passenger car. But that’s exactly what Speedkore have done: carbon fiber hood, front fenders, and bumpers.

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SEMA 2015: 1940 Mercury Sport Coupe by Rob Ida Concepts

1940-mercury-coupe-frontThere are car builders, and then there are master artisans who work in the medium of steel. The guys at Rob Ida Concepts in Morganville, New Jersey definitely fall into the second group.

At SEMA 2015, they unveiled their latest creation: a wildly customized 1940 Mercury Business Coupe. This car and its skirted front and rear wheels are designed to give it a flowing, Art Deco-inspired look that is very streamlined and modern. The car’s roofline, wheel skirts, and just about every other panel is made from hand-formed steel. This is not merely another chop top ‘Merc, this one is all custom! Continue reading

SEMA 2015: 1969 Chevrolet K10 Pickup

1969-k10-pickup-rearFor many people, owning a vehicle is not just a way to get from Point A to Point B – a vehicle is a blank canvas upon which to creatively express yourself. Within the world of custom cars, communities have developed around certain platforms and models. From the ’32 Ford and the ’49 Mercury to modern day platforms like the Subaru WRX and Mazda Miata, custom cars are woven into the fabric of our culture.

One platform that is huge among customizers is the family of GMC and Chevrolet full-size trucks built between 1967 and 1972. With a wide variety of both original and aftermarket parts available, these C/K pickups are an excellent starting point for a custom build.

While walking the show floor at SEMA 2015, I passed by the Doug Thorley Headers booth and saw this 1969 K/10 pickup which belongs to Brad & Sara.

I couldn’t find a lot of details on the truck, but I did notice a newer generation LS engine swapped under the hood along with a color-matched intake manifold and valve covers. The whole thing looked very clean in the engine bay with the smoothed firewall. The truck was equipped with Doug Thorley headers, a Painless wiring harness, and an IDIDIT steering column with Dakota Digital gauges.

This K/10 was laying frame thanks to Airlift Performance parts and Viair compressors. At normal ride height, it handles well thanks to its Specialty Suspension components and QA1 shocks. I’ve got no idea about which wheel and tire combo they went with. It was painted a beautiful metallic blue paint job with House of Kolor paints and a light shade of wood in the bed.

Because of the popularity of these trucks, you will find that no two are alike! Every owner has customized theirs in a unique way. I like what Brad and Sara did with this one – nice job on the cool custom truck!

SEMA 2015: 1970 Cuda by The 401k Club

1971-cuda-401k-club-frontMuch has been written about the growing popularity of classic cars as investments. As demand among collectors and baby boomers continues to increase, the values of classic cars are being pushed ever higher at auction events nationwide.

While having a cushion of money in their portfolio is comforting to many retirees, some people look to enjoy the things they dreamed of in their younger days. For many people, a 1960’s muscle car is the physical manifestation of that dream. That’s how The 401k Club got started. From their website:

In 2006 a group of car club buddies decided to lease a warehouse for a place to work on their own vintage cars and Hot Rods. With Dana at the helm The 401K Club was born. Fast forward nine years and what started as merely a place for passionate car enthusiasts to tinker on their own projects, has transformed into a globally recognized Custom Hot Rod Shop with one of the best teams in the business.

At the 2015 SEMA Show in Las Vegas, I saw this 1970 Plymouth Cuda that was built by The 401k Club of Huntington Beach, CA. You have to laugh at the tongue-in-cheek humor of their name!

The car features a Gen3 HEMI V8 swap and a wild vinyl-wrapped body that was done live at the show! The multi-color wrap shines like paint and really pushes the limit of what today’s high-tech vinyl wraps can do.

Unfortunately, I could not find many specifics about the car and there was no sign at the booth to reveal any further details about the build. I will let the pictures do the talking as you check out this resto-modded gem for yourself!