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Talented Dipshits: Why Don’t Minitruckers Get The Respect They Deserve?

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If you’re anywhere within earshot of the minitruck community then you are likely already well aware that fabricator/celebrity Jesse James gave mini-truckers the label of ‘dipshits’ in a recent Instagram post.

Whether or not he meant the entire community, or specific individuals, doesn’t matter at this point because he’s achieved his goal of gaining publicity for his built SEMA project.

A post shared by (@popeofwelding) on

Jesse has never been the type to make friends with his words, but in this case he’s just the most famous in a long line of people to throw undue shade at a community that really doesn’t deserve it.

Minitrucking has been around for at least thirty years and innovation and creativity have been a part of the community since day one. Putting a truck on the ground is much more complicated than replacing springs, dialing in some camber and rolling fenders.

To get things sitting properly minitruckers borrowed attributes from other scenes and meshed them together in their own unique way.

A truly well-rounded minitruck build fires on all cylinders. Body drops,  panel shaving, suicide doors, rag tops, widened wheels, wire tucks, are all incredibly common place among the truck community.

As are completely custom chassis, oddball platforms and off the wall motor swaps of all kinds.

Simply put the minitruck community is not a bolt on one and the resourceful, creative nature of minitruckers has led to technological breakthroughs that extend far beyond the confines of a truck bed.

While many won’t admit it, or just plain don’t know, the modern air suspension community owes a lot of its advancement to ‘idiots that just want to drag bumper’.

Had minitruckers not been early adopters, and work out the kinks, the air suspension industry likely wouldn’t be where it is today.

It’s through their experiments with chains of valves that compact valve manifolds were born. Similarly the need for something more than a switch box lead to advanced digital management systems.

and each have minitruckers embedded in their operational and development staff.

Companies like and who are on the bleeding edge with modular tanks and heated valve blocks, were built on the backs of hard-working individuals with roots in minitrucking.

From a fabrication stand point the minitruck community has always had shining  stars. Sure in the early days crude mono leaf set ups may have been prevalent, but today well-engineered and thought out multi link suspension kits, or complete custom chassis are the norm.

Many of the best fabricators I know, and several I don’t, have backgrounds in the minitruckin industry. In fact there’s so much useful knowledge tucked away in the minitruck community that there’s even a book coming out focused on properly engineering suspension systems to go as low as possible but still be safe and reliable.

In the right hands this book will lead to better built trucks overall. Combating the stereotypes that minitruckers are hacks.

 It’s easy to criticize minitrucks as an outsider but let’s be real, overly ambitions back yard builders keen to ‘waste metal’ and armed with a 110 amp stick welder and a six-pack of beer exist in every subset of car culture.

For every dodgy s10 back half in the minitruck community, there’s a botched flare install in the import scene, or terrible ‘rat rod’ atrocity in the hot rod world.

Aesthetically Minitrucks are typically known for skulls, scallops, wild paint and all sorts of over the top airbrushed magic but there’s been a shift in recent years towards building trucks of classic ‘resto-mod’ quality.

The most prominent example of this is the ‘Stranger’ built by  a truck highly regarded as one of the best minis ever built. This truck proved that it was possible to build a minitruck at the same level of quality (and maybe even higher) of any other genre.

The Stranger, and trucks like it, catapulted the quality of minitrucks tenfold. Attention to detail returned to the forefront and since then highly detailed truck projects have continued to emerge across the globe.

Sure you can argue that minitruckers might have their socks too high, hat brims too straight, and get a little too wild at shows. But all that aside they really are not any worse off than other genres.

I challenge any of you reading this who are skeptical of the minitruckin community to go to one of their events and take a hard look. Chances are you’ll see something you like.

Call them dipshits if you want, but they’re some talented dipshits for damn certain.

Theme Tuesdays: First Generation Lexus IS300s – Pt 3

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Am I alone in thinking that the first generation IS300 is the best IS300? Probably not. It was a great looking rear wheel drive sedan when it was released and it has gracefully transitioned into a modern classic today.

Reasonably sized in comparison to today ‘IS’ models, aggressive yet refined, and with an available wagon option its hard to argue that the IS300 didn’t start of on the right foot.

Sure the five speed auto trans in most of them tempers the cars awesomeness to some degree, but the fact that the came with 2JZ in Japan means that swapping the motor and transmission isn’t an unreasonable lift.

Like so many luxury cars, as they’ve aged, they’ve fallen into the price range of those who want to modify them quite heavily. The result of the IS300 becoming more attainable is a healthy community of modified models.

With that in mind it’s time to follow-up 2012s IS300 Theme Tuesday.

Start things off with a bug turbocharged bang, I’ve posted this car before, and never seen it again, but there’s no denying it makes a visual impression
It’s a build, and though I can’t find video of it running there is a picture
If you read the D1SP coverage then you already know that this car has no issues running
owns and slides this car on the regular
This wrapped brown beauty was subject of a feature shot by
I think the car was parted out shortly after this shoot
Sadly this car was rear ended and is no longer with us
The owner has moved on to another Lexus, but still, this one was sweet
This car has gone through af ew different makeovers over the years
It currently looks like this, with  Rocket bunny kit fitted, and as of recently air suspension

No local IS300 tribute is complete without photos of Aidan’s car
It’s great to see ‘The Unicorn’ out this year
Big side skirts work so damn well on IS300s, as do deep dish three spokes – Photo:
Photo:
Nine times out of 10 Bazreia are a great choice. – Source:
This car was a for Rev’d mag, but I don’t think it every got off the ground. Maybe it was the spoilers fault (sorry dad joke)
sportcross is outstanding. Photo:
I can’t deny that I’m intrigued by s car, he has certainly taken a unique path with it
I’m listening to west coast rap mix as I type this so s car only seems fitting
The same car at earlier stage in its life
AJ Gillet () is pretty good at doubling down
Neither car is exempt from track duty either. – Photo:
Photo:
Since most of the cars in this post have been drift/style oriented how about a street/track build? – Source:
has the details on this – Source:

WTF Friday: Soot-10

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As people get more, and more, creative with their motor swaps any sort of unwritten rules about brand biases start to fade.

This is of course how it was in the “golden era” of hot rodding. Any motor, could end up anywhere, as long as the builder had the skill and desire to make it work.

When it comes to the s10 I’ve seen number of motors make their way under behind the Chevy badge, but up until yesterday a Volkswagen diesel motor wasn’t one of them.

The 1.9L turbo diesel engine can be found in several different model of Volkswagen which means there are plenty of them in junkyards to be had for a reasonable price, ripe for the picking.

After being pulled the motor in this truck was worked over a slightly before the swap (forged internals, ARP head studs etc) but I feel like fuel mileage was a priority here over lower 1/4 mile times or just plain outright speed.

Exterior wise, the truck looks to be heavily inspired by Jeff’s old S10 below.

Unlike Jeff’s truck, this one didn’t meet its demise parted out and is .

Starting this post I thought the truck was one of a kind, reveals that there are potentially two others out in the wild.

Are we on the cusp of a new generation of s10s powered by Volkswagen hearts? Maybe not yet… but perhaps soon.

Theme Tuesdays: Recently Viewed – September 2017

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I know, I just recently did a video based Theme Tuesday (featuring Speed Academy and Vibrant Performance Retro Header Build-Off), but the end of September signifies time for another.

As usual this month runs the gamut of my automotive tastes stopping on a few videos you’ve probably seen then, traversing to some videos you may not have.


















I’m writing an editorial on YouTube channels and I could use a few more to round it out so if any of you have recommendations let me know!

Mighty Mopar Monday

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As things settle down around here after a fairly busy event filled summer, I can take the opportunity to read up on s sent in featuring awesome cars that you guys know I’d love.

First up this unique pro touring project sent in by automotive artist and all around good guy Chris Piscitelli of .

Chris sent along the for sale post for this car where it was listed for a steal of a deal at 13k. Why do I say a steal? Well considering the parts, and man hours already into this car, 13k is a more than fair price.

Under the hood of this A body is an SRT4, motor. Not everyone’s choice for a classic Dart but SRT motors are known to make good power when treated right and this one has been given some pampering.

Internally it has been fortified with DCR racing internals, crane cams, and a DCR head.

Hanging off a twin scroll turbo manifold is a AGO S256RS turbo, and on the opposite side is a custom intake manifold. The inter-cooler has also been plumbed up and sits nicely behind a vented factory bumper.

The body of the car has been blasted and coated in epoxy primer with 90% of the body work said to be complete. QA1 coils make up the suspension and mock up has been started for the 18×8 front 18×9.5 wheels.

A rendering of the original builders final vision is below.

The car was put up for sale in May, and according to the most recent update in the build thread, it was picked up in July for an undisclosed price.

There’s a lot to do for sure, but if the person who bought it is up to the task this could be one neat dart when the tools are put back in the box.

I feel a full Pro Touring relapse coming on after .

Good Style: D1SP Round III

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I don’t know a lot about drifting. I could try to sound deeply connected to the scene by claiming I spent my nights as a youth watching Initial D and worshiping Keiichi Tsuchiya but that would be lie.

However I’d like to think that I know cool, and there’s few things cooler than a clean car banging limiter while travelling sideways through a corner at full lock.

That’s what first turned my eye towards drifting and what has kept me interested today.

As drifting became more mainstream its representation changed so noticeably that even as a casual observer I was able to pick up on it.

The demands of creating a seat filling spectator sport meant more angle, and more smoke became mandatory. Corporate sponsors got involved and heavily influenced livery, horsepower numbers increased drastically and angle kits dictated near 4×4 level ride heights.

Pro cars started to visually (pardon the pun) drift further away from street cars.

On the opposite end of the spectrum many new comers started gravitating towards a contorted vision of the missile car. Rear wheel drive heaps were pulled from their graves, spray painted with a few catchy slogans, and slung around tracks with drivers hoping for the best.

Again, the classic street car style that drifting originated from became somewhat harder to find.

D1SP’s mandate is to fix all that, at least here in Ontario. To quote the they are ‘a group of individuals out to change the hole Ontario drifting has dug itself into’.

They’ve stripped back their events to focus on the most important parts of drifting; good cars, good times, good friends, and good style.

D1SP events are not open invite, you must apply to drive and the selection process has three main considerations; a driver’s skill, a driver’s car, and a driver’s personality.

If you have a great personality but your car is wearing the battle scars of a few too many events you’re asked to ‘style up’ for the next round, if you need more seat time other events are suggested to practice at and you’re encouraged to apply again at a later date, if your personality is off-putting well…

A selection process such as this might seem pretentious, or even arrogant, but it’s not. It’s just a way to ensure that the event stays controlled and that the “vibe” stays consistent.

Vibe is an intangible thing, that is hard to explain, but it can make or break an event. When a vibe changes from good to bad it’s extremely hard to course correct.

The vibe at D1SP is just right and worth fiercely protecting.

The best way for me to describe it is, for those of you that currently participate, or did partake in action sports, is like a private trails jam or backyard ramp session with your close friends.

Complete with good music, a BBQ, and even a doggo.

Everyone pushes each other to drive their best, but besides trying to lay down a line similar to that of your friend there’s no formal competition or pressure.

Participants are free to drive as much or as little as they want, and as hard or conservative as they want.

The event takes place at the skid pad because with a few cones the course can be configured any number of ways, and utilized forwards, backwards, with all the clipping zones or without depending on the driver.

Furthermore there’s no worry about unpredictable drivers on the course in front or behind, no delays to pull a car out of the grass, and no fear of track walls.

It also means that spectators are never too far away from the action.

Which is great if you bring a little enthusiast along (Note: this is why most of the photos are shot from a similar angle).

Having only covered competition events the past few years, seeing the cars at D1SP was pretty refreshing.

These were, without a doubt, some of the best looking drift cars in Ontario and they were joined by some darn good looking cars from the US as well.

I know, I know, it seems a bit redundant to drill down on the style factor of this event but what can I say, I’m an aesthetics guy at heart.

Wheel tuck, dish, big kits, some stickers, you know I’m all about that.

Given that a properly wheeled car can be hard to keep presentable I respect the fact that all of these drivers take the time and care to keep their cars as such.

It makes the cars a treat to look at sitting still or going fast.

There isn’t really much more left to say about the event. It was a great time with good people and I’m glad I was able to make it out.

Shout out to all the drivers for making it an enjoyable event to watch, and not running over myself or Ash, and the organizers for extending an open invite.

If looks like your idea of a good time be sure to keep up to date on their 2018 events via their . I plan to make it to at least one again in 2018 so hopefully see you there.

You bring the style, I’ll bring the camera.

Theme Tuesdays: VR6 In Everything

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The Volkswagen VR6 is considered by many to be one of the best sounding six cylinder motors ever built. In addition to having distinctive bark the VR6 also has an impressive bite, especially when you throw some boost into the mix.

The only ‘downside’ to the VR6 is its packaging, not everyone who acknowledges the VR6 prowess wants it in a Golf, Beetle, A3 or TT. Of course that can be ‘easily’ solved by yanking the motor from its moorings and dropping it somewhere else.

Much like the Honda K20 and Nissan SR20, the VR6 has started to appear in damn near everything, don’t believe me? Take a look at the examples below.

This is perhaps the oldest swap in this post, and I imagine when the car was first revealed quite a few people were upset
Curiously no further information exists about this car outside of
The VR6 Triumph TR6 is, or was, from here in Ontario
It’s been a few years since I’ve seen it so I am actually not sure if it is still around
The swap was quite well done either way
Remember the running “Fix it again Tony” gag for Fiats?
Well Tony did indeed fix it, with a R32 VR6 mounted inline versus transverse –

Because VR6 swaps are naturally quite popular among the Volkswagen community I tried to keep this post Volkswagen chassis free, with this and the Beetle following it noteworthy exceptions
Where you would traditional find a motor in this Caddy there’s a fuel tank….
…a VR6 now sits in the rear end – Photo:

A VR6 in an aircooled Beetle does not look like an easy feat to pull off – Photo:
It looks like its impossible to fit with a deck lid affixed, this makes the result look a little abrupt – Photo:
built this Opel Calibra with not one…
…but two vr6 motors, working together the car puts down 700 horse and runs the quarter-mile in under 9 seconds. –

I should probably do a Theme Tuesday on older Audis some day…
This particular Audi 80 has a R32 spec VR6 with a Holset HX35 hung off the side,

With a paint job like this, you know that this car 930 wasn’t built by a purist
A VR6 with a turbo sits where the original motor would have
If the camo look wasn’t your thing well, the car looks like this these days. Again purists are likely to stay mad but I think it looks incredible.

Trevor, with the VR6S14 is who first introduced me to the Ratchet RX-7, a VR6T powered RX-7

Speaking of Trevor, he’s been pretty busy of late…
Though it’s not looking prim and polished the car is back on the streets for the rest of the season after a long time off the road being rebuilt, looking forward to shooting again the next time its finished

WTF Friday: 1JZ Third Gen Camaro

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In the heyday of message boards the thread on Volkswagen Vortex was the jam, and contributed to many WTF Friday posts.

It more or less fell off about three years ago, but occasionally I get an notification telling me that it was updated.

The most recent of those updates contained the engine bay of a fairly down on its luck looking third generation Camaro. That engine bay didn’t contain a 305 TPI or some such paperweight but rather a Toyota 1JZ.

The builder on vortex, offered little in the way of information about the swap, but, one of his previous threads about his Subaru builds suggests he knows his way around a wrench.

The photo of the car at a gas station also alludes to the fact that the car is indeed driveable. Hopefully he posts some more on this build soon, as I’m pretty sure at this point it is completely one of a kind.

Celebrating Fifteen Years: The 2017 CSCS Season Finale

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As I rounded the final corner on Kohler Road towards Toronto Motorsports Park Cayuga, ‘It’s Been A Long Time’ cued up on my car stereo.

A classic DJ Premier produced track is always appropriate, but it was especially fitting this day because it had indeed been a long time since I’d personally attended a event. Been a long time also applies to how long CSCS has been in operation, fifteen years as of 2017.

Keeping a multi faceted event like this running for fifteen years is no small feat, and it is one that the organizers of CSCS are rightfully proud of.

The event staff, many of whom have been around since day one, remember the humble beginnings of the event and shared anecdotes of those early days on the mic throughout the day.

Starting with little more than a stop watch, a pop up tent and house speakers it’s taken a lot of hard work and dedication to grow the series into what it has become today.

Their dedication is extremely appreciated by the community. Evidence of this is in the attendance numbers of the final round.

The venue was absolutely packed full of enthusiasts. Admittedly I can’t speak for every round of 2017, but if the turnout has been like this all year, then CSCS has had a very successful fifteenth season.

For me CSCS was a bit of a reunion, catching up with several people I have not seen since my last round in 2014. It was great to see not only how much the event had changed, but how much many of the cars had as well.

Up above is Tim’s previously texture painted Subaru in its new wrapped guise.

Another welcomed familiar face was Emilio Ciccarelli of TWOLITREmedia, a fellow photographer and Honda enthusiast who I’ve not seen in a number of years.

Though I didn’t clue in right away, I honestly should have known the Civic above was his the second I saw it.

The exacting level of detail and tasteful modifications could only come from someone who’s as dedicated to the EK chassis as Emilio is.

Familiar faces, and familiar cars, didn’t just end in the show and shine. Some of my favorite local drivers, Mike Gardner, James Houghton, and Dov Arnoff were all at the finale round looking faster than ever in cars that looked better than ever.

Dov and James also managed to convince some friends from the United States to come out to the finale and try their hand at the challenging Cayuga race course.

One such friend piloted this monster of a Nissan 240 that I had to track down in the pits for a closer look.

Extreme is the only way to describe this car and watching it run around the track was quite exciting.

Despite being fit with functional aero — designed via 3D scanning and simulation– the car still looked to be a handful to drive, wanting to step out sideways every hard corner exit.

Blisteringly fast regardless, Bill Washburn () put down a time of 1.13.1 before being forced to retire due to unfortunate mechanical failure.

All was not for not however as that time was good enough for first place in the unlimited rear wheel drive class, and just 3/10ths of a second off the track record.

Being the last round drivers were chasing podium spots and track records quite aggressively. A new track record did get set shortly after at 1:08.335 by Richard Boake in his Subaru known as “Black Storm”.

On the drift side of things the level of driving at CSCS has certainly improved considerably.

Again, there were plenty of familiar faces in the field but also a few new comers from my perspective.

CSCS was the first drift event I had the pleasure of photographing, and remains one of my favorites to shoot. Though I’m not to proud to admit  it took me a few extra moments to remember exactly how to shoot drifting.

I’ll spare you guys the number of blurry photos I silently deleted from this post.

A real highlight of this round was the battle between local driver and friend Pat Cyr and Pennsylvanian Troy Manners, two drivers I am more accustom to seeing at Formula Drift Canada.

Both great drivers, their tandem battles were incredibly close. After a OMT Troy ended up the victor, and later the over all winner for the day.

A new addition to the CSCS daily schedule is the ever popular car limbo.

As is usually the case Miatas stole the show, but ‘s beautiful FC did a good job of holding things down for those of us who are not hair dressers.

I found myself going back to look at her car a couple of times throughout the day. I’ve always thought myself more of an FD fan, but now I am beginning to wonder…

As a whole the CSCS show and shine had a large showing of well put together cars and trucks.

Again, it’s great to see that the show and shine has grown in size and quality with the rest of the event.

My favorite entrant of the extensive field had to be the beetle that I started out this post with.

It’s a simple car at first glance, but the execution is what really puts it over the top.

Nothing was left un resorted and period correct additions were added throughout. Overall the car was also absolutely spotless.

If you have not been to CSCS event in few years like myself I encourage you yo make an effort to attend at least one next year, you won’t be disappointed.

Congrats to the entire CSCS staff for a surveillance fifteenth season and I’ll try not to be as much of a stranger in season sixteen.

Theme Tuesdays: Vibrant Performance/Speed Academy Retro Header Build Off

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Usually I reserve video based Theme Tuesday posts for the end of month ‘Recently Viewed’ round up, but I am making an exception this week for what, in my opinion, is a stand out series of videos put together by And .

As you’re no doubt already well aware, I am a big fan of both of these local content outlets and an even larger fan of this series where they’ve faced off against each other to build custom headers for their classic cars.

In Vibrant’s corner Aaron Weir is building a header for Art’s BMW 2002, while in Speed Academy’s ‘California’ Jay is building a header for ‘Connie’, Dave’s 1977 Toyota Celica GT.

Both take a different approach to the project, Vibrant’s is a bit more of a one off creation and Speed Academy’s is set up to be a part that could be replicated, exactly, several times over.

As a basic fabricator I like the trial and error approach of Vibrant’s method, but as a bit of a tech geek I appreciate the technical approach behind Speed Academy’s approach.

The entire series isn’t quite done yet, so when it is I will update this post, but it is certainly worth catching up on if this is your first time hearing about it.














If you can recommend any further videos of the same vein I’d love to see them.

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