SEMA 2019: 1968 Lamborghini Espada CHD Rat Rod

The SEMA Show in Las Vegas is the “World Series” for custom car enthusiasts. Builders from all over the world bring their custom vehicles to the annual show, hoping to scoop up awards or recognition for pushing the custom automobile industry forward a little bit.

Within the custom car world are many different segments: street cars, drag cars, pro-touring/restomods, Exotics, original restorations, stanced/flush, VIP, Rustomods, hot rods/Kustoms, vintage racers, street trucks, lowriders, Overlanders, Jeeps and 4x4s, and many other classes of vehicles.

But every once in a while, a vehicle comes along that defies classification. At the 2019 SEMA Show, there was a car that I couldn’t quite make sense of.

Builders Herve Castagno and Alexandre Danton from France presented this 1969 Lamborghini Espada CHD Edition. Now you might be asking: who in their right mind would chop up and rat rod a Lamborghini Espada? I was wondering the same thing.

A sign in front of the car offered the following information:

  • Built to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the Espada
  • The most expensive rat rod (insured for $750,000)
  • The first ever Fabio Lamborghini inspired rat rod
  • Custom built with real, numbers-matching Lamborghini body and chassis
  • Custom G67 RUMI wheels by Govad Forged Wheels in Toronto, Canada
  • Original V12 engine
  • 8.2 feet wide
  • Built by Danton Arts Kustoms in France

These two guys have taken Lamborghini’s original 2+2 four-seater and reimagined and remixed it for a new generation. As I walked around the car, I couldn’t help but wonder: who is this car for?

I can understand how Lamborghini purists would not like the car, as it goes in a very different direction from the car’s original intent as a luxury grand tourer. A car with no side windows, no engine cover and a very sparse interior seems too radical a change for a car that is supposed to be comfortable, fast, and elegant. It’s utterly impractical for anything other than short drives to car shows.

And what about the traditional rad rod enthusiast crowd? What would they make of this chopped and stretched Italian sports car? Rat rods are all about creativity – making a gas tank out of an old beer keg, or repurposing a vintage pump handle as a door latch. Using old pistons to make side mirrors – cool stuff like that. While this car has some rat rod elements – an extreme chopped roof and a wide stance, it is too polished, too perfect, too different from the “DIY aesthetic” that is at the center of rat rodding.


I am not sure that this car would fit in with the Vintage Lambo crowd or with the rat rod crowd. It’s kind of in between two very different segments of the car universe. I had the same mixed feelings about the 2009 Ford Mustang which received a Lamborghini Gallardo V10 engine swap, which I saw at Barrett-Jackson’s 2019 Scottsdale auction. I covered that car in my post Weird and Wonderful Custom Cars.

Don’t get me wrong – I think the Espada rat rod looks cool and it definitely showcases some expert level fabrication skills. But would I want to own the car? The answer is: no.


Not long after the SEMA Show, the car was offered for auction at Mecum Auctions in Kissimmee, Florida in January, 2020. While a high bid of $100,000 was received, this was far short of the estimate of $200,000 to $250,000. As far as I know, the car did not sell.

What do you think of the rat rod Lambo? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below.

For more information, please visit:
www.chd-edition.com
https://www.facebook.com/CHDedition/

SEMA 2019: 65 Mustang and 69 Camaro by Blown Mafia


After spending two whole days wandering the halls of the Las Vegas Convention Center at the 2019 SEMA Show, I was exhausted. My feet were tired and I had seen so many amazing cars that I was becoming numb to them.

Seeking to get a breath of fresh air, I ventured outside the convention center and found myself in the Bronze Lot behind the South Hall. It was here that I came across a pair of incredible custom cars belonging to Bradley and Ashley Gray and their custom car business, BLOWN MAFIA.

The sight of a 1965 Ford Mustang and a 1969 Chevrolet Camaro, side by side, both painted in matching shades of Porsche Guards Red, was an interesting sight to see. But even more impressive was that both of these cars feature crazy built engines producing big power.

The ’65 Mustang features a 427 cubic inch LSX engine with not one, not two, but THREE superchargers! It is quite an incredible setup, and one that drew a lot of attention from onlookers and passers-by.


1965 Ford Mustang
Builder & Owner: Ashley Gray
Power Plant: 427 LSX Triple Supercharged with Arias Hemi Heads
Drivetrain: 2 Speed Powerglide
Rear End: 9″ Ford
Paint: Porsche Guards Red
Interior: Allanti Light Sand

Right next to the Mustang was this 1969 Chevrolet Camaro. The car features a 468 cubic inch Big Block Chevy engine which is both blown and Procharged for crazy power.

1969 Chevrolet Camaro
Builder & Owner: Bradley Gray
Power Plant: 468 Big Block Chevy Blown & Procharged
Drivetrain: TH350 Transmission
Rear End: 12 bolt
Paint: Porsche Guards Red
Interior: Allanti Light Sand

This pair of “His and Hers” muscle cars sets a new standard for #relationshipgoals. I am glad they brought their cars out to SEMA, and that I got a chance to see them.

Follow Blown Mafia for more:
https://www.instagram.com/blownmafiaofficial/
https://www.facebook.com/Blown-Mafia-707443152664622/

SEMA 2019: 1967 Iso Rivolta IR 300 Custom Coupe by Griot’s Garage

1967 Iso Rivolta IR 300 Custom Coupe by Griots Garage
Iso was an Italian automobile manufacturer that dates back to 1939. They began as an appliance manufacturer, and in 1948 began building motorcycles. In 1953 the company unveiled its first car: the Isetta, famously known as the “bubble car.” They licensed the design to several manufacturers including BMW, who went on to mass produce the car to worldwide fame.

In the early 1960s, Iso entered the sports car market with their first model, the Rivolta. They would later produce the Grifo, Fidia, and Lele models. All of these were low volume production cars, with just a few hundred examples built of each model.

Approximate Production Numbers:
Iso Rivolta: 797 units
Iso Grifo: 413 units
Iso Fidia: 192 units
Iso Lele: 285 units

Iso automobiles combined beautiful Italian design with powerful American engines from Chevrolet and Ford. They were expensive and luxurious models for the rich and famous. The Fidia S4 sedan briefly held the title of World’s Fastest Sedan in the late 1960s. Unfortunately, the market for gas guzzling luxury automobiles evaporated after the 1973 oil crisis, and the company ceased operations permanently in 1974.

I have something of a soft spot for these niche Italian cars, which are much less known than brands like Lamborghini, Ferrari, and Fiat. Regular readers of this site may have even seen my previous posts about the Iso Lele and Iso Fidia S4 in the past. You can imagine my surprise when I walked into the Griot’s Garage booth at the 2019 SEMA Show and saw this gorgeous Iso Rivolta IR 300 coupe. It was a rare sight at an event that is dominated by American muscle cars like the Chevrolet Camaro and Ford Mustang.


This particular car belongs to Richard Griot, who founded Griot’s Garage in his home garage in 1988. Griot’s Garage has grown to become a powerhouse brand that offers wash, polish, wax, and other automotive detailing products. This 1967 Iso Rivolta has received a full restoration by J&L Fabricating of Puyallup, WA.

Back in 1967, the Rivolta coupe was offered with two engine choices: a Chevrolet small block V8 making either 300 or 340 horsepower. This car has been upgraded with a GM Connect and Cruise LS7 7.0L V8 engine, which produces 505 horsepower. It is coupled to a Tremec T-56 Magnum 6-speed manual gearbox.

The car has been given a full resto-mod treatment, which means that it does more than just go fast in a straight line. It can also handle corners like a modern car, thanks to an Art Morrison suspension and rear subframe with Camaro rear end. Brakes have also been upgraded to Wilwood 13-inch disc brakes.

The car rides on a set of EVOD Industries 17-inch custom wheels wrapped in Pirelli P-Zero tires, which measure 235/50-17 up front and 285/40-17 in the rear. Other upgrades include a Borla custom exhaust, a gorgeous interior, and a PPG Black paint job done by Jon Beyers Customs.

While it may have looked unfamiliar to the Chevy and Ford guys, this car is essentially an American muscle car in an Italian suit. I really enjoyed seeing this car at the SEMA Show and applaud the owner for building something different than yet another Camaro or Corvette.

1967 Iso Rivolta IR 300 Coupe Specs:

Builder: J&L Fabricating, Puyallup, WA
Owner: Richard Griot
Paint: Jon Beyers Customs – PPG Black
Body and Assembly: J&L Fabricating
Engine and Transmission: GM Connect & Cruise LS7 V8 Engine, Tremec T56 Magnum 6-speed Manual
Suspension: Art Morrison suspension and rear subframe with Camaro rear end
Brakes: Wilwood 13-inch disc brakes
Wheels: EVOD Industries 17-inch custom wheels
Tires: Pirelli P-Zero tires, 235/50-17 front, 285/40-17 rear
Exhaust: Borla exhaust

SEMA 2019: 1983 Volvo 242 LSX Swapped


What comes to mind when you think of Volvo? Probably words like safe, practical, boring. None of those are words that would describe Sean Fogli’s 1983 Volvo 242 coupe. The resto-modded car was featured in the Optima Ultimate Street Car area at the 2019 SEMA Show in Las Vegas. I stopped in for a closer look at this amazing build.

What looks like a dull, early 80s Swedish car is actually a highly capable, tire-smoking, track-ready race car in sheep’s clothing. The car’s original 4-cylinder engine has been swapped for a GenIV 6.0L V8 LS engine mated to a T-56 manual gearbox. The cherry on top is an LSA supercharger from a Cadillac CTS-V, and an LS9 fuel rail and injectors.

Peering in the windows, the roll cage, Racepak display, and Recaro seats with Schruth harnesses are more clues that this is no ordinary car. This Volvo is set up to handle the twists and turns of a road course, which was definitely not in its original design requirements.

The car has a great stance and rides on CCW Wheels with Bridgestone tires. It competed in the 2019 Optima Ultimate Street Car Invitational, an annual track event that is open to street legal cars and trucks.
The LSX badge on the rear of the car is one of a few subtle hints that this Volvo is definitely not stock. This is a super cool build and one of the standout cars of the Optima Ultimate Street Car Challenge. I was privileged to see this car at SEMA 2019, and really enjoy featuring these types of custom cars for our readers. The car participated in the end of show SEMA Cruise on November 8, 2019.

Follow Sean Fogli on Instagram @hackster1.

SEMA 2019: 1997 Honda Prelude Pickup Conversion “Prelute”

What do you get when you combine a pickup truck bed with a passenger car? There’s no witty punchline here – you get a car-based pickup truck or “Ute” vehicle, though few know the official name of “coupe utility” vehicle. The body style originated in Australia in the 1930s. By the 1950s, it had made its way to America as the Ford Ranchero and soon afterward, the Chevrolet El Camino.

These vehicles were in production for many years and offered a unique experience that many drivers couldn’t find elsewhere: car-like handling and size, but with the cargo carrying ability of a light pickup truck. The Ranchero ended production in 1979, and the El Camino met a similar fate in 1987.

For more than 30 years, no automobile maker has stepped forward to fill the demand for this type of vehicle in the market. As a result, a number of custom “car-based pickup trucks” have begun popping up. We’ve covered a few of them before, such as an E36 BMW Truck, Volkswagen Ute, and an Audi Ute around town.

At the 2019 SEMA Show in Las Vegas, I happened across one of the cleanest car-based pickup custom builds I have seen to date. This car began life as a 1997 Honda Prelude, and was converted by the owner Song Toh into a small pickup. In a YouTube video covering the build, Song says it took him 15 months and more than 600 hours of time to complete the build. He has also given the car the incredibly clever name of “Prelute” – a combination of “Prelude” and “ute” – the Australian term for this kind of vehicle.

I saw the vehicle on display at the 2019 SEMA Show in Las Vegas, where it had a steady crowd of admirers. The build photos on the Deviant Customs Facebook page show the progress of the car, from adding additional chassis bracing to the glossy orange wrap, doing basically all of the work himself. Congratulations on a super cool, unique, and very clean build.

Be sure to follow the owner on Instagram @deviant_customs for more updates.