SEMA 2015: 1963 Pontiac Acadian ‘Andiamo’ by JF Kustoms

1963-pontiac-acadian-andiamo-rearEvery year, hot rodders and custom car shops from around the world bring their automotive creations to Las Vegas to participate in the SEMA Show – the largest automotive trade show on the planet.

Many of these builders focus on creating pro-touring cars – that is, a classic 1960s muscle car updated with a modern powerplant, independent rear suspension, and disc brakes to name a few. These and other modifications vastly improve the safety and handling of these old rides and in many cases, exceed their original levels of performance.

One custom car that caught my eye at SEMA 2015 was this beautifully restored and upgraded 1963 Pontiac Acadian, which was the Canadian version of the Chevy II / Nova. This car was built by JF Kustoms in Osoyoos, British Columbia – the same shop that built the “Rivision” Riviera that captured a Ridler Award in 2014. Continue reading

SEMA 2015: 1970 Ford Thunderbird ‘Thunderstruck’

1970-thunderbird-thunderstruck-sideAt most classic car shows, you can count on there being a good amount of Mustangs, Camaros, and Corvettes. Because of their sporty styling and powerful engines, these cars were immensely popular when new and remain popular today.

The Ford Thunderbird was different, as it was designed to be a personal luxury car. When you do see one at a car show, it is usually restored to showroom new condition. For whatever reason, Thunderbirds are not commonly modified to custom cars or drag racers.

This 1970 Thunderbird custom was a standout at the 2015 SEMA Show in Las Vegas. I came across this car and stopped in for a closer look. Nicknamed “Thunderstruck,” the car was built by Eddie’s Rods and Customs in Pueblo West, Colorado. 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: 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!

SEMA 2015: 1961 Ford Sunliner by Hollywood Hot Rods

1961-sunliner-frontOne of my favorite cars at SEMA 2014 was Steve Strope’s gorgeous 1967 Ford Fairlane. The blue and gold color combination was simply stunning. I had a very similar reaction at SEMA 2015 when I came across this 1961 Ford Sunliner at the Custom Auto Sound booth. What can I say: I think I have a thing for Sixties Fords in blue!

The Sunliner was Ford’s convertible cruiser. Based on the Galaxie chassis, it was classified as a full-size car in 1961 and was an intermediate-size car for 1962-64. This Sunliner features twin “afterburner style” round taillamps that are very space age. With its massive 119-inch wheelbase and powerful V8 engine, this car was a real head-turner. Continue reading