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Lost Coverage: The 2017 Tottenham Car And Truck Show


Anyone who’s seen Jurassic Park is likely familiar with the quote “Life finds a way”. In the movie Jeff Goldblum’s character said it in reference to dinosaurs finding a way to, well, basically, do whatever they want despite our best efforts.

In real world terms, life (aka adult responsibilities) finds a way to basically get in the way of things. An odd concept, considering these things are what make up our lives… but you know what I mean.

I’ve talked about life, and it’s impact on the site here before, and will likely again, and it is life that swallowed up the coverage of this event, the Tottenham Classic Car and Truck show.

2017 was actually my, or rather our (I brought the whole family), second year attending the show, and 2018 will probably be my third year.

Why? Because it’s a really a great event. Held at the Tottenham campgrounds it’s a great show to either come for the day, or stay for the weekend like we did.

The main reason the SIE family returned to the show was because of the kids vehicle class. My son had an absolute blast last year and before every event I took him to this year he asked if it was the one with the “tiny” car show.

Though his own “Power Wheels” is bone stock (that life chestnut strikes again) he’s more proud of it than anything so it’s nice to bring it with us for a change.

As far as full-scale cars go, this show has everything you’d expect from a classic car event. Muscle, customs, and hot rods I’m sure there was even a motorcycle or two I might have missed.

Though It’s billed as a classic car event I’m pretty sure the organizers would welcome a few more trucks and imports next year. Just sayin’.

One of the coolest cars at the event was this Mini. The Batman car seat is really just the icing on the cake with this one.

As it’s plain to see the proportions of this particular mini are, vastly different from a standard Mini.

I’m not sure exactly how much wider it is than stock, but, its siginifcant none the less. The reason for the added girth is as interesting as the wrap on the car wears.

Stuffed horizontally in the rear of the car is a 350 small block. If I remember from posting it months ago, it’s mated to an Oldsmobile Tornado transmission and the whole set up is likely why the Mini is so darn wide.

The other reasons can likely be attributed to handling and traction benefits.

If you prefer your rubber inside stock bodies (and axles incredibly narrow) this Malibu was impossible to ignore thundering through the entrance.

It’s no real secret that I am a Pro Street fan so I had to get a closer look at it.

Apparently the car had a blown motor leading up to the show and this was one of the first times it had been brought back out after a rebuild.

Had I not been told, I wouldn’t have known because the car certainly look like it recently had a motor swapped into it.

Any fans of 70s Street Machines reading this? If so then you probably like this 1907 Charger as much as I do. As much as stretched tires and camber can be linked to this generation, fat rubber, rake and Cragars can be linked to that of the 70s.

Arguments as to which look is better are best left to someone else however.

Dubbed, and branded, the Black Bitch, it looks like this car’s no joke. I’ve never seen it before, but if I see it again I might need to chat with the owner about exactly how much power the chicken eating 500 stroker is putting to the floor.

Ontario has more ‘Kustom’ cars than I’d ever imagined. We might not have near the same amount as California but, we certainly have our fair share.

This Ford Meteor might look subtle at first glance but there’s quite a bit going on. Take the lack of door handles, frenched headlights and lake side pipes. All calling cards of a traditional kustom car.

Keen eyes have probably also noticed that there are also louvers punched into the hood.

Under the louvers is a McCulloch supercharged power plant. I’ve mentioned Mculloch’s previously, and shown this engine bay before, as it’s the only car I’ve ever seen with one.

It is a fairly unique looking unit and one of few according to the owner.

Not sure how much power they make, but it makes the engine bay of this Ford just as noteworthy as the exterior.

Speaking of noteworthy exteriors how about this 1940 Mercury Custom that’s been given the face of a 1950s Cadillac. This car has pretty well every paint trick in the book applied to it.

Windows, flake, lace, flames. This car has all of it, and a lot of it. The work was done by the owner Trevor Downing, right down to borrowing the lace drapes from his Grandmother.

My son got a kick out of this one dubbing the ‘rainbow’ car his favorite of the show. It’s a 454 powered car that’s static in the front with bags in the rear.

The only reason it’s got bags in the rear is because the owner’s son uses a power wheel chair and apparently riding static with the extra weight cause the car to get beached a bit more often than one would like.

As the day went on more and more cars pulled into the event, the variety of which seemed to constantly grow.

Stock firetrucks don’t often (well ever really) make the site but this former Tottenham pumper was too cool not to take a photo of two of.

The vintage life saving tools were pretty interesting to look at. I think those might be early jaws of life?

Looking back at these photos now, about a month before the coldest part of winter, is a bit of a tease, but what’s better than a little something to look forward to for next summer eh?

Theme Tuesdays: Three Spokes


I’m going to be completely honest and admit that for quite some time I really didn’t like three spoke wheels. However, as I got older (and perhaps  slightly wiser) I was exposed to a wider variety of three spoke wheels and they started to grow on me.

In the right hands, on the right car, and most importantly at the right height, three spoke wheels look pretty damn good.

Would I run a set today? Well… I might not be willing to go that far, but I will hat tip to a few great examples of their use.

Leading this post off with Super Advan wheels seems fitting
They are a wheel that have become quite popular in recent years. It doesn’t hurt they come in a few different configurations
Like many wheels the wider the better
This IS300 was part of the recent IS300 Theme Tuesday, did a great job capturing it
Enkei RSII’s are a set of three spokes that I have never seen in person
Classic KMC wheels on this slammed CB Accord Photo:
Advan Oni’s look damn good on this Toyota Chaser
Do you prefer this car on 3 spokes? – Photo:
or 4?
Not sure the make of these wheels, but they look great on this MK4 Photo:
MK3 looking pretty damn good on Prime 3 spokes
OZ Cygnus wheels almost look like Prime three spoke wheels on steroids Photo:
This is probably the only car other than a Viper you will see on these wheels. They have been narrowed to fit the car, something you don’t often see done – Photo: Someguy photography
Dylan Leff’s Celica is a thing of beauty – Photo:
I’m not sure what model of three spoke wheels these are, but they look really classy on this e36 Photo:
I’ve been a big fan of this particular e36 after seeing in the flesh at SEMA a few years ago. These split 3 spokes from Rotiform are pretty unique, but work quite well here – Photo:

Event Coverage: FU Cancer BMX Jam/Car Show


If there’s one thing that I’m more passionate about than cars its BMX. I’ve been riding for about twenty years now, and I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve been able to enjoy both at the same time.

Usually it’s one before another, as I’ve often covered events with my bike in the back with every intention to ride immediately after. I’ve always wanted to ride my bike while surrounded by custom cars so when I heard an old riding friend was going to put on a BMX Jam and Car show I had to be there.

When I heard the event was also going to be a fundraiser for a local cancer hospice I gathered up the family and made a proper of it.

Taking place on a unseasonably warm November Day, at Riverside park in Cambridge, the turnout for the event was really good from both a car and rider perspective.

Hosted by Craig and Jason of did a great job taking care of people on both sides too. On the city sanctioned dirt park there were big air and best trick contests for both armature riders and pros alike.

On the car side show and shine participants the awards were done via collective voting and there was no pressure to stay all day if you didn’t want to.

Now admittedly I probably took a bit too much on at this show, trying to ride with my son, ride myself, and cover it. But some events are just plain worth the hit in coverage to actually enjoy as a participant.

That said, I did take a bit of a closer look at a few vehicles, a couple of which you may have already seen me post on both and .

One of those such Vehicles is Craig’s own Advanced Design Pickup. I remember looking at this exact truck on Kijiji before I got mine, and it was a little too far gone for me but Craig really made it his own.

Now with no roof, or fenders, it’s part truck, part roadster, and all hot rod.

In front of his truck also sat a hot rod wagon that he made. He’s cranked out a few of these now each one better than the last.

Craig along with business partner Jason were also responsible for getting this Suburban road worth once more. Built for a local bike shop called Back Pedalin’, when it comes to bad ass rolling billboards this one is hard to beat.

The make up of the show was susprinsly diverse given Distorted’s area of expertise. Up, down, lowrider, tuner, there were examples of everything.

Those with a keen eye probably already spotted the American Racing split three spokes in the background of the last photo above. Who else remembers when you couldn’t leave the house without spotting at least three cars on those wheels?

All said and done I had a great time at this event and I’ve got confirmation that there will be another one next year. If there is you can bet I’ll do my damn best to be there.

The combination of BMX and cars in one day is simply something I can’t miss!

Theme Tuesdays: Recently Viewed – November 2017


Somehow I manged to completely miss pulling together an October recently viewed post. I’ll blame that on the time I spent out in the garage on Project Why Wait coupled with trying to enjoy the last few double-digit temperature days before the chill of winter sets in for good.

As things return to normalcy I’ve been watching more videos, preparing for a few upcoming project tasks, getting inspired and, to be honest, procrastinating.

Old, new, random, and tire smoke it’s all here.

A post shared by (@nvauto) on

As always I am looking for more channels to add to my watch list so feel free to suggest, especially anything related to fabrication work!

WTF Friday: Brit-American Tricycle


A few years ago cars converted to trikes, (specifically Fieros) showed up in several  WTF Friday posts. Then, some might say thankfully, things tapered off for a little bit and I stopped seeing eyebrow raising trikes quite so often.

Well, crazy trikes are still out there, and the trike featured today is the unholy union of the back half of a Camaro the front/mid section of an MG and the handle bars and fork of an 80s or so street bike.

From an execution stand point this is far from the worst home built trike I have ever seen. The body work is pretty decent considering, and suggest the builder knows what they are doing in that regard.

It’s a big bug eye looking but it doesn’t look particularly wavy which is an accomplishment considering the physical differences between all the donor vehicles.

The screaming eagle flames are quite fitting (‘merica!) and decently done. Like most car/trikes this one has no doors or roof to speak of, and it looks like the seat is the rear bench straight out of a rather than the MG.

Actually, there really isn’t a whole lot of MG in the car I can make out outside of the windshield and headlights.

Currently ($6500 USD if you were wondering) the owner will also take a bike with a sidecar as a trade. Something tells me that he might be hanging on to this one though.

Project Why Wait: Get In Where You Fit In


When we last left Project Why Wait I had just manged to recover from an *ahem* slight miscalculation of rear shock placement. That little snafu necessitated a few steps backward, and a lot of sanding to course correct.

I’d love to say that this update doesn’t include a fair bit of sanding, but I don’t fancy myself a liar. However, it didn’t begin with a lot of sanding. Instead it started with some good of fashion planning and mock-up.

Aside from the suspension, the rear of this chassis had no real mounting systems to speak of. This has been a bit of a double-edged sword. It’s given me the freedom to put things anywhere I want, but to put them anywhere I want requires at least some level of fabrication.

One such system that needed a home, but had no place to go, was my air management. Consisting of two 2.5 gallon tanks, two compressors and an Air Lift 3H manifold/ecu, the management makes up one of the larger component sets I needed to find a home for.

After holding the tanks and compressors in various positions all about the chassis, I settled on a pocket of space between the axle and the fuel cell.

Using green tape –tape which I should buy by the crate at this point– and a sharpie to mark the center lines on the chassis I started with the compressor mounts and lower tank mount.

The compressor mounts are off the shelf that I’ve modified for my application by contouring the vertical edge to match my frame rail, and relocating one of the gussets.

New mounting holes were drilled next, and the frame was tapped to accept bolts.

For the tank mount I ran a piece of C-channel from one compressor mount to the other. Bolts are welded into the recess of the C-channel (three per side) to create a hidden mounting system when viewed from the top down.

Connecting the two compressor mounts together in this way added significant rigidity to the mounting system. The tank shouldn’t bobble around much and neither will the compressors.

Mounting the upper tank proved a bit more challenging because there was nothing for me to really mount the cross member to.

Had the chassis not been coated and painted I could have easily zapped one in, but with the paint hardly dry from the last update I wasn’t to keen on this idea.

After a bit of thought I devised a pretty simple mounting solution.

Yes, that is, a piece of angle iron tack welded to the end of a piece of box steel. I wanted a nice uniform 90 around the frame rail and this was the best way I could achieve that with the tools I had available.

That piece above was a quick functional prototype of the idea. I beat it all to hell to ensure that the mount wouldn’t fall off as I went down the road.

To give things a bit more of a mounting surface I welded an additional piece of flat stock to the end of the angle iron for a larger mounting surface to the frame.

It was all welded completely before my tap and die came out once more to mount the new cross member.

Along the way I made sure to check, re-check, and check again that everything was level before proceeding to the next step, test fitting the manifold and upper tank.

This is where I realized I hadn’t accounted for placement of the air lines and wiring harness going into the manifold.

A quick solve for this was spacing the upper tank out from the cross member just enough to run the related plumbing and wiring. Above is the necessary spacing mocked up with wood and the aforementioned box steel/angle iron test piece.

To make the manifold mount I bent up some flat stock to go around the box steel.

You’ll notice in the photo above I also ended up using the same material as the basis for the upper tank mount. I’ve actually used this steel a lot for various small brackets.

It bends easy, drills, easy, grinds easy, and thankfully welds quite easily.

Speaking of welding, while I wouldn’t say I’m a pro by any definition, my welds are starting to improve from earlier updates to the point where I don’t have to grind them down or worry about adequate penetration.

The learning curve has involved a lot of YouTube videos and an impressive pile of scrap metal.

Above is the raw mount, all zapped together ready to go back on the chassis for more test fitting. Once back on the chassis I cut up some 1×1 tubing to space the tank out. Inside the 1×1 are bolts that I’ve welded in to mount the tank.

Unfortunately I manged to forget to take photos of that all coming together. Some nights I’d just get in the ‘zone’ and completely forget to pick up my camera.

I am happy to say however that everything went together quite well. The tanks ended up level, evenly spaced from each other, and on the center line.

However,  just incase, all of the mounting holes, including those for the manifold, have been slightly slotted to allow for fine tuning as needed.

With everything settled on, and in position, I utilized a particularly warm November to shoot some color at the pieces I just made.

At this point you all are likely not going to believe me, but I don’t have a particular fetish for sanding and painting. It’s just a necessary part of the process behind building the truck I’ve got my heart set on.

I’m sure Car Quest is wondering what I’m doing with all these cans of paint.
I’ll have to swing by when the truck is complete.

With a home for the air management decided it was time to move on to plumbing the chassis, with the first system being fueling.

After consulting a few friends the drop in fuel system by seemed like the easiest route to take. Drill a few holes of various sizes and you’re pretty well done, and being a drop in I didn’t have to find any additonal space to mount it.

To begin the installation I selected a spot on the tank that looked symmetrical with everything I had already positioned. Then cordless drill made short work of cutting the hole and popping in the mounting holes.

You’ll notice in the process the tank color changes from raw to black, yep I painted that too.

The top coat is unfortunately a little soft an easy to scuff/scratch, so don’t be surprised if eventually I end up with the black powder coated version of this same fuel cell.

RCI offers it, but for now I’ll just keep buffing out the black.

The Aeromotive install is actually pretty straight forward, the instructions are well written and if you can assemble a model kit, you can drop one of these in.

It’s a very nice piece of kit over all, and if you’re willing to spend a few extra dollars for some convenience and fueling piece of mind, I highly recommend it.

Once the pump was in the fuel cell it was time to consider fuel lines. It was here I discovered a slight problem, the safest (and cleanest) route from the back of the chassis to the front was straight through the frame.

This meant drilling a rather large hole through the cross member, then fishing the -6 fuel line through it, blind. Twice.

I filled the swear jar with this task.

To keep things nice and clean I opted to plumb it all with a combination of Russell and -6 AN fittings depending on the union. I used Russell mostly but I preferred Vibrant’s 90 degree fittings.

In an effort to minimize scratches I picked up purpose-built vice jaws and an AN wrench for this task.

If you’re ever thinking of assembling AN fittings without these I would advise against it.

It’s an additional expense for sure but it makes things considerably easier. Scratching AN fittings sucks, and with these tools I was able to keep most of my black fittings entirely black.

On the fuel tank end of the equation, instead of just passing the line through the frame I chose to make a bulk head plate

I could have probably just ran it straight through the frame, via a grommet but, to be honest I just wanted to try my hand at making bulkhead plate.

Two 45s at the fuel pump, and straight fittings at the end of the hose link everything together. For my first time running lines of this nature I am pretty happy with how it all turned out.

On the other end two straight, full flow fittings, go into my fuel filter/regulator. For those of you who know, this fuel filter is telling of my motor set up, but we will get to that in the next post.

I promise.

With the engine side done, and all the fittings on the fuel hoses, I dug out the fuel cell straps and shot them and the bulkhead plate with some color.

Once it was all dry I put it together and was finally able to see my vision for the back half start to come together.

This is where taking the time to select all black fittings, rounding corners of my bulk head plate, painting and so forth really paid off. I couldn’t be more pleased with how it all looks buttoned up.

I even went so far as to switch out the bolts for button head allen fasteners. Another extra expense in an area few might notice (especially when I have a bed floor) but, I think it’s worth it don’t you?

You’ve probably noticed there’s a fair deal of dust and a couple scuffs on, well, everything. Chalk that up to my clumsiness and an unavoidably dusty work space.

Everything will all be cleaned up, touched up, and polished out by the time this truck sees the sun once more.

As soon as I drive this thing it will be covered in dust and scratches once more, but might as well start with the a clean slate right?

So, with that all said and done, here’s a parting shot of the back half of the chassis with most of the necessary components in place.

With the chassis inching closer to completion I opted to bring the body panels home from Taylor’d Customs for the winter in the event I need them before spring comes along.

It’s a little tight in the garage now, but being able to see the cab when I’m working makes everything seem that much more real. Special thanks to Nick, John, and Will for helping wrestle the works off the trailer and onto moving dollies.

Lots done, lots to do. Just have to keep pushing forward!

WTF Friday: Truck Of The Irish


Motor swaps are one of the best parts of hot rodding. This is an unquestionable fact, and it really puts a smile on my face to see swaps become more and more creative over the years. The imaginary lines in the sand regarding what motor should go where have long since been erased and people are doing some wild things, like putting a M62b44 Motor in a 1953 Chevy truck.

Ireland’s Kieran Terry shot me a direct message on Instagram asking if I’d be able to do anything on his truck. Unfortunately there’s just a bit of a distance gap between the two of us that prevents me from shooting the car for a feature, but considering the nature of the swap a WTF Friday post more than works.

Behind the distinctive ’54 Chevrolet grill is an 268 cubic inch 8 cylinder motor lifted from a 1996 740il. Kieran was inspired to look at BMW power plants by  that was powered by an M60.

Now that it’s all said and done Kieran sighted weight savings and increased fuel efficiency as an added bonus to the swap.

Compared to the standard small block Chevy swap this motor is 350kg lighter because it uses an alumium block over a cast iron one.

Rated at 290 horse power from the factory it is –depending on where you source the SBC from– also either on par with or far more powerful than Chevrolet option.

Along with the motor Kieran also installed the BMW gear box and the independent rear suspension system, which explains the hint of camber in the photo below.

Obviously the truck is on air ride, with an independent suspension up front to match the rear. Accuair handles the management and this truck lays running board with the best of them.

Rocking a patina finish, not all that dissimilar to what is currently on my truck. Keiran’s truck also has some pretty hilarious art on it. West Side Radiator A good place to take a leak.

The entire project took a total of five years and Kieran notes that he had no BMW experience before building his Chevy.

Not sure if I’ll ever get to make it out to Ireland but if I do I’ll have to ring up Kieran for a closer look at this truck, it’s darn creative and well executed.

Theme Tuesdays: Ten Other Chassis Worthy Of The Singer Design Touch


Last week , released renders and technical information regarding their latest endeavor DLS, or Dynamics and Lightweighting Study. The DLS series of builds is collaboration between Singer and Advanced Engineering to create the best possible version(s) of the Porsche 964. The results of the DLS projects promises to be nothing short of outstanding and naturally the internet went nuts for the concept.

After the broke discussions about the project popped up everywhere and many led down the path of what if.

What if the Singer Design team turned their attention to another vehicle, or set of vehicles? What car would be deserving of such attention? Well after having this exact conversation with several people I was able to come up with ten hypothetical answers to that very question.

1. BMW E30 M3

The e30 M3 is a classic, and was the natural ‘next singer’ choice for many. Already heralded by many an enthusiast in stock form a Singer touch would be the icing on an already delicious cake.

Potential wise there’s a lot with the e30 m3 and many of the styling treatments used on the Porsche builds would transfer over to the e30 m3. I’d be really intrigued to see what, if anything Singer would do with those iconic box flares.

2. BMW 2002
Admittedly this list could be compromised almost entirely of BMWs if I let it. Regardless, if the e30 M3 is BMW candidate number one, then the 2002 is a very, very close second.

A Singer Design 2002 could really go either way. A stripped back, race bred example or a more well-rounded compact luxury touch could work as well. Either way there’s great bones to work with when it comes to a 2002 and a lot of racing heritage to pull from.

Bonus points if they dive right in on the 2002 tii.

3. Mercedes-Benz 190 E
If the E30 M3 is on this list, then it’s rival the Mercedes-Benz 190 should be as well. With similar styling cues to an e30 m3, and a similar level of cult status, the 190 is a great candidate.

Being a saloon also means that more people would get to enjoy the Singer level of build quality.

But please no four doors more whores here, a car of this stature would deserve an escort at the very least.

4. DeTomaso Pantera

My love for Pantera’s is quite public, but I actually didn’t think of the Pantera as a Singer canvas initially.  wheelman Mark Bovey did, Mark is a man of many talents to loves many of the same things I do, and after brief thought I wholeheartedly agree with his choice here.

Singer Design could go to town on the American powered Italian Sports car. The Ring Brothers and Gas Monkey did their thing, but in my opinion there’s still quite a bit left on the table. Especially when you consider the GT5 models.

5. Buick GNX

The Buick GNX was my initial knee jerk reaction selection. Second generation Grand Nationals, but specifically the GNX, are legendary, and easily one of the coolest vehicles General Motors ever put their energy behind. The GNXC actually beat the Porsche 930 in the quarter-mile and Ferrari F40 in the scramble to 60 miles per hour.

As outstanding as the GNX was it was still based around an 80s American platform and 80s turbo technology. Singer could pick up right where McLaren and GM left off and really take one of these to the next level.

I just don’t want to think of the price tag.

6. GMC Sylcone/Typhoon

This selection should be obvious after lobbying for the GNX. Turbo all wheel drive power is always a great staring point for fun and like the Grand Nationals/GNX this truck caused quite a stir when it came out. It too could also outrun a Ferrari (the Ferrari 348ts) as well as Corvettes of that era.

Similar to the GNX the crutch for the Sy/Tys is the technology they are based on and the brick like shape. The shape is iconic, but the power, handling, and interior especially could all get a rethink.

7. Datsun 240z

The first, but not last, Japanese car on this list, the s30 Z cars are quit deserving of the Singer touch. A Singer L28 engine bay would be a thing of beauty and probably sound absolutely incredible at full chat.

On the outside a tidy set of flares, a lower chin spoiler, and a duck-bill on the rear end would obviously be par for the course, along with a Singer Design interior and their engineering prowess when it comes to suspension.

8. Honda CRX
I chuckled at this suggestion initially, because at first blush there’s likely no market to support it. But, it’s actually not all that crazy of an idea. In fact it is a great idea.

Doing a CRX justice likely wouldn’t have to be nearly as extensive as their other builds and their smaller size just might mean the prices could be somewhat reasonable due to less materials being used over all.

Given the flop of the CRZ, and the fact that Honda keeps getting further and further away from what made the Civic series of vehicles so endearing to driver’s in the first place maybe there is a market for a 50k or so modern re-imaging of the little CRX.

9. Lamborghini Countach
I’ve never driven a real Lamborghini Countach but from what I’ve read they don’t drive nearly as good as they look. For someone who had the car on their wall as a kid (see below) this is disappointing news.

Ergonomically, performance, reliability wise there’s a lot of areas that Singer could improve on with this posterchild. Just so long as they don’t get rid of the 80s charm in the process I’m all for it.

10. Chevrolet C2 Corvette
The C2 was a great year for the Corvette. The Larry Shinoda design was darn near perfect, and the introduction of four-wheel disc brakes and a big block motor made the car a real performer.

It was also the first year of the z06 package that lives on today. All of the aforementioned make it a great candidate for a Singer Design project.

Vettes have never had the greatest interiors (up until most recently) and the idea of a top-notch interior in a C2 is super appealing. The 60s technology that operates the rest of the vehicle (vacuum lines ahoy!) could stand to be updated. Of course the usual Singer suspension and wheel magic would be welcomed.

Honorable Mentions: The FC RX-7 and The Z32 Nissan 300zx
The FD RX-7 already gets plenty of love so I think it could wait a few years before being eligible for Singer treatment but the FC is just right. I reckon the guys at Singer would have no issues putting together a killer rotary.

This one might seem a little out of left field, but simply put I don’t see a lot of cool z33s and want to see more.

So that’s my list of builds I’d like to see Singer tackle in dream land, what are yours?

Kustoms Never Die: The ’49 Ford Thunderball


Kustoms Never Die, those exact words adorn the inside cover of my own personal copy of the Jalopy Journal. Figuratively, that phrase means the art of customizing cars –in the traditional custom with a ‘K’ sense– will never go out of style or fade from memory.

Every kustom car, still with us or not, is remembered by someone, somewhere and it’s usually these memories that keep cars alive long after they’ve met their maker.

On rare occasion ‘Kustoms never die’ literally applies to cars that by some miracle managed to avoid getting rebuilt, parted out, or scrapped entirely. These cars are physical time capsules of build techniques and styles of days gone by.

The ‘Thunderball’ is one of those cars.

When I first laid eyes on the Thunderball I knew I was looking at something special. Presented, as it was found at the 2014 Jalopy Jam Up the car drew an excited crowd.

This wasnt a traditionally styled car built from NOS or reproduction parts, it was the real deal. It wasn’t perfect but at the same time it was perfect as an irreplaceable piece of Ontario hot rod history.

At the time I wrongfully assumed the car would be trailered around for a short while before being stuffed back into a barn or being torn apart for parts never to be seen again.

Thankfully, my predictions for the car’s future couldn’t have been more wrong.

To do this car’s story justice we need to start at the beginning, or at least as close to the beginning as possible.

First, the car is actually not a Ford but rather a Meteor.

It was billed as a Ford because the Meteor nameplate was only used in Canada. When shown in the states calling the car a Ford just made things simpler and gave America’s a mental point of reference.

The car was built in the early 60s by Louis Kovaks, a body man who owned two shops one in Mt Brydges Ontario and one in Strathroy Ontario.

Ironically, when Louis started the build the car actually belonged to a customer. At some point, using the ‘it’s easier to ask for forgiveness’ approach Louis got out his tools and never looked back.

How Louis handled the owner’s reaction to his four door hard top becoming a two door permanent convertible no one quite seems to remember.

Nonetheless one fact that there is no dispute is the cars intent. Louis built the Thunderball to win shows.

The car was one of the most heavily modified of its time, and naturally all of the traditional kustom styling modifications were employed.

It has been chopped, channeled, shaved, flaked. There’s stacked headlights, dual frenched antennas, polished wheels and porta white, white walls. When it comes to a true Kustom styling there’s few modifications this car doesn’t have.

However as cool and extensive as all the modifications are, they are not the most interesting part of this car’s story.

On the show circuit the car did quite well, evidence of the Thunderball’s accolades are affixed to the center console of the car, along with the numerous trophies that managed to survive with the car.

In its prime the car was incredibly successful before judges. Rumour has it the car also beat a Barris custom on one occasion.

After retiring from the show scene in 1969 the car was driven on the street until ’75. At that point it was put into storage. Like many a show car as the years passed it got further from top of mind until it was forgotten.

Eventually Louis passed away and the car became something his estate had to deal with. Not sure what to do with it, in its now state of disrepair, the car was destined for the crusher.

It was only saved from this fate by Strathroy hot rodder Rick Copp who knew the car deserved better.

Not in the position to take on such a project himself, Rick took the car to a local show with the intention of finding new caretakers.  This is where Kevin Grasley and his then ten-year old son Dutch enter the Thunderball story.

Like myself both realized the car was something unique. With its story thus far pasted to the window Kevin and Dutch tried to find the owner near the car but were unable.

Not ready to chalk things up to a missed opportunity Dutch persuaded his dad into one last trip past the car before they left.

It was on this trip they managed to meet Rick Copp, who took a liking to Dutch’s enthusiasm over the car. (Trust me it is infectious)

They exchanged information and two months later Copp decided to gift Dutch with the car making the Grasley men the vehicles new shepherds.

Yes, this is the first car, of someone who isn’t even old enough to drive yet. How cool is that?

Though nearly 100% complete upon re-discovery the car was quite a ways away from being a road worthy vehicle. The frame had suffered the most damage and was rotted beyond the point of no return.

Undeterred Kevin, who is car builder with experience ranging from mini trucks to Volkswagen busses, was able to find a donor frame and shorten it the required 38 inches to fit underneath the Thunderball.

Many ask, and no re-painting the car isn’t something Kevin plans to do. Refinishing it would make it just another Kustom and not the storied car it is today.

Sure a little more of the paint comes off each time he brushes past it in the shop, but that just adds to the vehicles character. After over 50 years it deserves to wear its patina with pride.

One area that Kevin did however give a complete make over was the engine bay. The 1955 Corvette 265 Corvette motor pictured above is the one that has been in the car since it was originally modified.

Kevin pulled the motor giving it a visual and mechanical refresh. While it was out he redid the wheel wells, then cleaned up the engine bay and ran some of the cleanest wiring I’ve ever seen.

Outside of the chassis and running gear the rest of the car is virtually untouched.

Considering it was in a barn for 40 years,  largely un , the interior manged to hold up particularly well. Sure it’s a little dirty, in the nooks and crannies, but it’s all still there which is what is important.

It is hard not to get a chuckle at the phone hanging off the center console. The first car phone came out in ’46 so while it’s feasible that a’ working’ unit could have been in this car, I don’t believe that to be the case here.

But putting one in just for show makes perfect sense when you’re building a show winner.

With so many kustoms of the sixties lost to obscurity, words can’t really stress just how fortunate it is that this car has managed to live on.

The Grasley’s may have just been car enthusiasts before The Thunderball, but now they are hot rod preservationists.

In their care we can all be relieved that this Kustom will never die!

If you have information about the car Kevin can be reached on . He’s trying to assemble as much history about the car as he can.

Feel free to leave any information you might have in the comments as well.

SEMA Showstopper: It’s A Fire


Standing out at SEMA is no easy task, and something people go to great lengths to achieve.

These lengths often result in heavily modified commercial vehicles; ambulances, campers, and fire trucks are just a few of the more atypical vehicles to get hot-rodded for the spectacular Vegas show.

At first glance this truck appears to be a heavily modified classic GMC fire truck and while it is, it also isn’t all at the same time.

Nick McDonald, of Wicked Welds Custom Shop, did start the project with a ’39 GMC fire truck but instead of using that sheet metal as a starting point he built a body of his own.

Yes, all of the panels on this truck are hand formed, and overall 98% of this truck was built from scratch.

It’s almost a shame that the body work is done so well because, had it been left raw, I imagine more people would have picked up on the fact that it isn’t the same one it rolled off the lot with.

The flawless metal work is covered by paint work done by Danny D, and deep red is no doubt a suggestive throwback to the vehicles roots.

To get as low as it does over the 24/26 American Force wheels, the truck is on a custom chassis. The chassis is entirely smoothed and powder-coated. It also features custom upper and lower control arms, a killer watts link.

The chassis being a work of art makes sense because that is just what Wicked Weld Custom Shop does. For those of you with a keen memory yes, they did do this Mazda last year.

Inside, a second bench was added to make it a four-seater before a leather custom interior was installed.

The windshield, and frame, will actually make their way back into the picture, currently however they are just current victims of the infamous ‘SEMA Crunch’.

Behind the custom one piece grill is a 5.9 Cummins motor that mates up with a narrowed Dana 60 rear end. The combination should pull this big truck down the street with no problems what so ever.

Want more? Well there’s a number of progress pictures on , I also imagine there’s plenty more features on this truck to come.

I mean it’s already had prior to its completion.