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 2014: Steve Tornari’s 1967 Chevy Nova

1967-chevy-nova-meguiars-frontMeguiar’s is like the hotshot director of Hollywood in that they only invite A-list cars to their parties. This year was no exception, with Steve Tornari’s 1967 Chevrolet Nova taking center stage at the Meguiar’s booth.

This ’67 Nova was the GoodGuys Custom Street Machine of the Year for 2014, a Top 5 Finalist in the Barrett-Jackson Cup, and a Great 8 Finalist in the 2014 Detroit Autorama. Those are some extremely prestigious honors for a car!
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SEMA 2014: JF Kustoms 1964 Buick Riviera

jf-kustoms-1964-riviera-sideIn every discipline there is a high award or honor that is bestowed upon those who have distinguished themselves from the crowd. Music has the Grammy award, acting has the Oscar award, and physics has the Nobel Prize.

In the world of hot rodding, the Ridler Award is among the most prestigious honors a car builder can receive. It is a moment of great pride and triumph for the shop who beats out all of the other shops and captures the award. In 2014, the Ridler Award went to JF Kustoms for this 1964 Buick Riviera nicknamed “Rivision.”

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PPE 1970 Chevelle Duramax 6.6L Swap with Twin Turbos

ppe-1970-chevelle-duramax-swap-profileWhen it comes to muscle cars, swapping out the engine is a great way to get more power. But you won’t find a 350, 383, or even a 454 cubic inch engine under the hood of this 1970 Chevelle. That’s because it’s powered by a 6.6L (403 cid) Chevrolet Duramax engine. That’s right, a diesel-powered muscle car!

As if that weren’t wild enough, the car also sports a custom twin turbo setup with two Garrett T-38R turbos pushing 30lbs of boost into the motor. Altogether, this little Chevelle makes 950 HP and 1,800 lb-ft of torque!

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Kepler Motion Supercar

When PayPal co-founder Elon Musk launched a new company building mass-market electric cars, he was clever in picking the name Tesla Motors. Tesla was an 18th-century inventor and engineer who was obsessed with the properties electricity. He was a brilliant man who was under-appreciated in his own time, and using his name to sell electric-powered cars is a fitting tribute.

Taking a page from Elon Musk’s playbook, another upstart car company has adopted the moniker of a famous inventor. Meet the Motion supercar from Kepler Motors!

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Gil Losi’s 1961 Impala – ‘Under PreSSure’

There is an old saying that “The only difference between men and boys is the price of their toys.” That’s particularly true for the owner of this 1961 Chevrolet Impala, Mr. Gil Losi.

Back in the 1980s, Gil started a company called Team Losi. Their family business grew to become a dominant player in the R/C car industry during the boom years of the 1980s and 1990s. Gil later sold the business to Horizon Hobby, but he’s not through playing with cars. These days, he’s tinkering with full size ones!

Gil’s latest toy was built by Steve Cook Creations in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. I saw it on display at the Meguiar’s booth at SEMA 2013.

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1956 Buick ‘Nailed’ by Troy Trepanier

One of the premiere builders in the hot rod scene today is Troy Trepanier. From his shop in Manteno, Illinois, Rad Rides by Troy delivers some of the most unique automotive creations on the road today.

I got to check out their 1956 Buick “Nailed” on display at the 2013 SEMA Show and based on the crowd of admirers, I could tell this car was something special. At the risk of sounding cliche, this ain’t your granddaddy’s Buick!

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1963 Corvette – World’s Fastest Street Legal Car

1963 was a very special year for the Chevrolet Corvette because it was the one and only year the car came with a split rear window. This oddity makes 1963 model years highly desirable to collectors. However, this ’63 Corvette is special for another reason: it holds the official title of “World’s Fastest Street Legal Car.”

Looking at the car with its roll cage, huge Mickey Thompson tires, and the two gigantic turbochargers sticking out of the cowl hood, it certainly doesn’t look like a street legal car. However, it has opening doors, power windows, turn signals and a horn, and even a cupholder! In its “street trim,” this car ran the quarter mile in 6.75 seconds at an incredible 209.96 mph!

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