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SEMA 2017: Performance Minded


The 2017 SEMA Show coverage so far has bounced back and forth between both function and form, but in this post the scales tip more significantly towards function.

Don’t worry however, though there won’t be any cars laying bumper, frame, or door, in this post –more of those to come– these performance minded builds still look great. This is SEMA we’re talking about after all.

Now, usually saying a post is going to be dedicated to function, and leading off with a Prius would make no darn sense at all, but this is no ordinary Prius.

If the big eagle/American flag livery didn’t tip you off, then hopefully the badging did in regards to what’s under the hood of this form fuel sipper.

Showing up in the unlikeliest of places, is a Dodge Hellcat motor and Whipple charger.

She’s a tight fit no doubt, and it’s really a Prius shell over a custom tube chassis, but, with proper headlights, tail lights, and opening doors this car is still, enough Prius to call it a Prius.

Sam Morris’ RX-7 has, for good reason, received a great deal of publicity from the 2017 SEMA show. Painted a unique pistachio color, sitting on Fifteen 52 wheels mounted under Rocker Bunny fenders the car looks the business, but what’s under the hood is what has most people talking.

To the chagrin of Rotary fans everywhere the rotary power plant has been evicted in favor of a twin turbo LS.

The swap looks very well done, with lots of attention paid to the minute details. Carbon fiber valve covers, a polished intake manifold, tidy plumbing, and a nicely tig welded intake sit nicely in a painted and smoothed engine bay.

The car isn’t running yet, but, a little sleuthing reveals that it should be up and running shortly. The owner doesn’t plan to baby the thing so hopefully we see a little track action pop up on his account when all is said and done.

Taking a trip outside, / had his Group 4 tribute race car sitting in the Toyo Tread Pass area.

The car certainly does look the part, fit with center lock wheels, proper wide fenders, and a CSL wing. A turbo S52 motor under the hood gives the car the power to back up its look as well.

Larry Chen recently shot the car, so I imagine it’s going to end up on sooner rather than later.

Painted a classy red with gold equips this Datsun 240z ticks all the same boxes Tim’s recently featured 240 does.

Between the fenders on this car is an SR20. Unlike most SR20 swaps this one is drive by wire.

It just might be the only DBW SR20 powered 240 in the world. Don’t quote me though.

The 240z wasn’t the only sr20 powered Datsun at the show. Chris Forsberg’s 510 wagon, known as the “Battle Wagon” sat proudly in the AEM booth.

This car is a project that was done for his wife.

Time will tell if his wife actually drives the thing, but it does look to be super practical, though not the most discreet thing to drive around.

has a few videos on the build if you want to see how it went from Craigslist find to SEMA floor.

Going outside once more, the Optima Street Car Alley always has cars worth a look. One of these years I will stay in Vegas long enough to see this event go down in person. I assure you.

In the meantime I will just have to enjoy them sitting still.

This Evo caught Rob’s eye and I can’t honestly blame him. It’s a well put together car that has been running the Optima Ultimate Street Car Challenge since 2014.

The car was put on the rollers prior to SEMA and makes an impressive 625 horsepower to the wheels, and 556 foot pounds of torque.

The Big Red Camaro  has had quite a life, being a race car since pretty much day one, and even catching fire at one point. As it sits now it is a vehicle capable of over 250 miles per hour at the Texas Mile.

Stepping just a hair away from completely brutal straight line power is the HS Customs ’69 Camaro known as Under Pressure. This 1,225 horsepower 427 LS powered car won the battle of the builders in 2016.

The chassis of the car is quite the work of art () and uses a Total Cost Involved Mustang II style rack and pinon set up. In the rear there’s a custom torque arm configuration hung between custom rails.

Custom rails were necessary to fit the 335-section rear rubber that’s wrapped around HS Customs designed 20×12 wheels.

Closing this SEMA post with a creation just feels right. The Ring Brothers always pull out all the stops for SEMA and for 2017 they debuted what’s probably the meanest ’72 Javelin ever created.

I’ve always been a fan of their work, but this car is something else. Javelin’s are not the most common platform to get the Pro Touring treatment so it’s nice to see one done do the nines.

The exterior has been given that Ring Brothers touch, with some nipping and tucking here and there to give the car body lines that are easier for a broader audience to appreciate.

Like the opening car this one is AMX is Hellcat powered, apparently even with the boost turned all the way down the car is a straight monster.

That bring us to the end of another SEMA 2017 post but trust me there’s still way more to come and personally I can’t wait to share it.

SEMA Showstopper: Ball Metal Fab


If there’s one thing SEMA has become known for it’s the debut of really awesome, really big, trucks. When it comes to commercial sized trucks, of any vintage, often putting them on the ground is all that’s needed to draw a crowd.

But Travis Ball, of , didn’t want to just draw a crowd, he wanted to make a statement with his work so he ratcheted the insanity up a few notches with his latest created, Demented.

Built for the Evapo-Rust display — is a non toxic product designed to well, evaporate rust– the heavy Chevy sits on a completely custom Solid-Works designed chassis.

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Being such a big project Ball Metal Fab got a little help from with the front suspension, and all said and done this truck lays out with the best of them.

For additional wow factor (and probably due to its size) a Duramax motor has been mounted behind the cab. Two turbos have been hung off it symmetrically to create an engine set up that’s honestly hard not to admire, even for the passive diesel enthusiast.

Atop the engine is a custom air to water intake manifold and custom valve covers. The exhaust is short and sweet and wrapped in heat wrap.

The frame, bumpers, and assorted trim has been powder coated various shades of black while the body has had its patina preserved with clear coat.

Rolling stock consists of American Force units that the large Viking fenders have absolutely no issue swallowing whole up front, and custom fenders cover out back.

The entire truck is very impressive, and even more so when you consider it was built in just ten months. Wonder what kind of insanity this shop can cook up for their projects without a deadline?

SEMA 2017: Automotive Overload


From the outside looking in the 2017 SEMA Show looks absolutely phenomenal. There are so many awesome builds at the Las Vegas Convention Center that –in addition to the available seminars, workshops, and demo track action– it is quite literally automotive overload for everyone in attendance.

Automotive attention deficit order is certainly very real at SEMA.

But don’t just take my word for it. Take a look at the two vehicles above. How much further apart from each other could they be?

The ‘Baller Hauler’ as been the subject of features , but I’d imagine that only a select few of you are familiar with ‘‘.

This Caprice isn’t just large wheels and stereo, under the hood is a turbo LS that puts down 1500 horsepower.

Inside, the Corvette theme continues with the expertly retro fit ‘vette interior. The owner of this car isn’t afraid to put the car to task either.

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On Instagram he’s called out a few Vegas locals (among others) so we’ll see what happens before he leaves.

Flipping back to haulers –this time of the people moving variety– this C30 camper is straight up ridiculous.  is the master mind behind this truck which was basically rebuilt from the ground up.

The motor is a back dated LS (Delmo Speed LS1) and the custom chassis is fit with Accuair management.

If the camper is a bit much for you, Sam Castronova’s C10 is probably more up your alley.

It’s an oem style approach to a later model c10.

For those interested in a more traditional mini truck aesthetic to their slammed trucks, how about this bodied 2018 Silverado?

It takes a special kind of shop to take essentially a brand new truck and cut it to bits to lay it out like this.

Going, quite literally in the opposite direction, inside the show, sits the original monster truck; Bigfoot.

The roots of monster trucking traces right back to this Ford, the one that started it all.

Looking used, but not neglected, it’s great to see this truck presented at the show to a crowd of enthusiasts who can all remember the first time they saw a monster truck.

Axalta paint systems had Rob Ida’s latest build in their display. All of Rob Ida’s builds are phenomenal in their craftsmanship and this car is no different.

It looks like a resto mod, but the car is actually entirely hand-built. None of the sheet metal is original Tucker.

It rides on a modern chassis, and sitting mid ship is a 500 horse power twin turbo power plant.

Of the OEM’s Ford typically has the one of the best displays at SEMA.

It’s usually a line up of many of the best modified examples of their current offerings, along side some classic race cars of serious pedigree.

Racing enthusiasts and racers alike, like Mark Bovey () who took all of the photos in this post, clamored over the car for a closer look.

It’s not every day you get to be up close and personal with a vintage GT40.

When it comes to pro touring builds really needs no introduction, they are some of the best to ever do it.

They brought several builds to SEMA 2017 but this one, Axis, is certainly one of the meanest.

Baer brakes, Fifiteen 52 wheels, one of their own chassis, and crate LT4, can a car be perfect? Because this just might be.

It’s hard to mention perfection at SEMA and not throw to this Lincoln Continental. This car is the latest masterpiece to roll out of Dave Kindig’s famous shop.

If you’ve never looked at Kindig It Design work I suggest you go to  right now and take a look.

Back? Ok good, now that you’re up to speed you can understand why this engine bay looks so good.

When it comes to engine porn it doesn’t get much more explicit than a Magnuson supercharged v12.

Especially when said v12 is surrounded by meticulous metal work sprayed to perfection.

Rolling into its second to last day there’s still plenty more to come from Sema 2017 thanks to both Rob McJannett and Mark Bovey.

Check back tomorrow for even more SEMA 2017 coverage!

SEMA Showstopper: Project Tarantula


In the first batch of SEMA photos from  I ear marked a few cars for 2017 SEMA Showstopper mini features and the car that undoubtedly deserved lead off honors was ‘s ‘Project Tarantula’.

What is Project Tarantula? Well, in its most basic form it is a vintage dirt track chassis with a ’39 Chevy body slung over top.

The name of the car obviously comes from the way the headlights are positioned, using holes in one of the cross members for the suspension.

Clad in Tredware colors, with just the right amount of real and created patina thrown in via hand painted numbers and period correct stickers, the car looks the business.

However if you think the car is just an exercise in looking like a performance build thing again.

Under the hood is a Hamner Racing Engines small block motor that, if you click play on the video below, sounds mighty healthy.

500 horse power healthy if the hash tags tell the tale.

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If you can believe it the car is also 100% street legal (at least in Alabama where it is registered) and recently participated in the 2017 Hot Rod Power Tour.

Looking through the it looks like a lot of authentic vintage race parts were used in the creation of the chassis along with QA1 coils all four corners.

The gold steel wheels are custom-made and clock in at 20×11 inches and are mounted to what look to be Wilwood Wide 5 hubs.

The back axle features a quick change rear end, easily visible through the bash bar, dirt track, style rear bumper.

The interior is spartan as you’d expect for a race car playing street car, and really the whole thing looks like a blast to drive.

Edit: Found a short video on the car.

I’m hoping someone plans to do a feature on this car because the information available online sure is scarce and I’d love to know more.

SEMA 2017: Let’s Get This Party Started


SEMA 2017 has arrived and as people head to the Las Vegas Convention Center bleary-eyed from overnight flights, late night parties, and last-minute build crunches the rest of us sit fixated to various sized glowing screens awaiting a steady stream of content.

Because a wild amount of my disposable resources has been transformed into boxes of parts for Project Why Wait I am unfortunately sitting this year’s show out.

However ‘s Rob McJannett is at the show and thus PI Speedshops is once again literally powering this year’s SEMA coverage.

Last night Rob sent through an early preview of the show, consisting mostly of vehicles outside the convention center.

The outside has always been a great place to start because it’s the great appetizer to the extremely long main course that is the SEMA show.

There’s a mix of everything outside, no matter what you’re into. Lifted, lowered, traditional, non, style or speed.

With hardly a stanchion or barrier in sight you are encouraged to take a closer look at exactly what’s going on. Thankfully for us Rob wasn’t shy and got his lens nice and close to a few of the more interesting projects.

created a massive following for themselves last year with “Tiffany” their twin turbo C10 project and later a television show Speed Is The New Black.

This year their SEMA crunch prokect is a ’62 Chrysler 300. Personally, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a 300 of this vintage, and that alone makes it pretty standout.

Add in a killer stance, wheel choice, and awesome patina and you’ve got a real looker.

The trick to this treat is that under the hood of this 300 is a Viper V10 motor. I may need to politely as Rob to take another look at this one once it is parked up at the Centerforce Clutches booth.

I’m not sure if he meant to tease or inspire, but Rob sent through quite a few awesome examples of Advanced Design Chev/GMC trucks sitting on the floor.

I am still fairly committed to 15″ wheels on my truck, but ‘s latest addition to their line up looks pretty damn good when paired with period correct caps.

Similar wheels can also been seen under this fleetside Task Force creatively known as the ‘Slameo’. Both of these trucks are Stoner’s Speed Shop builds.

Looks can often be deceiving at SEMA and I feel like this Plymouth has a few tricks up it’s sleeve. I mean it has to have a few or it wouldn’t get at the big show right?

Patina on American builds has been in fashion at SEMA now for roughly the past five years but a patina Porsche is a little more atypical.

Outside of a few cars Magnus Walker has wheeled in most Porsches at the Convention Center are polished pieces of perfection.

However this particular Porsche is a Rennlist project known as Project Stork. It’s got that name because it is the car that brought the builder home from the hospital when he was first born.

I wasn’t brought home in a cool car but if I were brought home in a Porsche and it was still around I’d imagine I would want to do something similar.

You can follow the entire project on .

Last week I did a Theme Tuesday on unique forced induction set ups and seeing this build I almost wish I waited a week.

This diesel powered C10 was built on the show , so, it obviously has a diesel motor under the hood.

In this case the coal burner of choice is a Durmax motor, and while that is really quite impressive I think the chassis work is also pretty nuts.

did all the fab work chassis wise. I believe what’s going on here is a reverse cantilever set up, that uses hydroshox and a watts link to keep things centered.

The entire thing is of course painted, plumbed incredibly cleanly, and had some pin-striping added to the extra touch of class.

There’s plenty more to come from SEMA 2017 as the doors opened officially and people flood inside. Much more to come so stay tuned for a busy week!

WTF Friday: You Can’t, It’s a Geo!


Oh boy, got a doozy of a WTF Friday pick for today. Mid 90s truck/jeep/compact based “hot rods” are always a bit questionable in asthetic and that remains true for this one.

Looking a bit like a Citroën from the front this Tracker is, as the ad states, ‘one of a kind’.

With the front fenders of a 31 Chevy (albeit fiberglass) and the extended hood of a beetle the transition from 90s compact suv to ‘rat rod’ is quite abrupt.

To accommodate the Chevy 305 power plant the frame was stretched 26″ before Belltech drop spindles and coils were installed to bring the front down.

In the rear everything is pretty factory save for the cracked fiberglass bumper, but the rear axle actually doesn’t sound that bad.

It’s a narrowed 92 Camaro 10 bolt rear unit, with slight work in the pot. It’s got drum brakes still, but I don’t imagine this Frankenstein weighs that much.

The inside is fairly factory stock with the only additions being some gauges to monitor the motor.

The vehicle has only had 8000 miles put on it since it was completed in 2008 because it’s mostly been tucked away in storage.

I’m sure many would argue it should have stay in storage forever more, but, it is for sale now on Craigslist Illinois.

The asking price is $6500 but I really doubt there’s been a lot of bites.


Theme Tuesdays: Unique Forced Induction


Forced Induction is everywhere in 2017. Most manufacturers have at least one turbocharged vehicle in their line up, and a select few offer supercharged models as well.

On the enthusiast side of things, I don’t think aftermarket turbochargers or superchargers have ever been more popular. Forced induction has become the go to replacement for displacement.

Like anything else FI isn’t exempt to people thinking outside the box, usually in regards to placement, and today’s Theme Tuesday pays homage to some of the more unique FI set ups I have seen over the years.

This little ‘supercharger that could’ gave this Beetle a shot in the arm power wise (57hp 100 ftlbs).  Nothing crazy, but that’s not the point here
The turbo set up in this Ghia is just a bit more in your face than the one on the beetle – Photo:
In internet terms this photo is absolutely ancient, but it is certainly unique
A look at the packaging – Via: Reddit
This is (sadly) all just for show, but it is quite hilarious to look at
Still patiently waiting on video of this project running
From the top side, this 300, doesn’t appear turbocharged….
…but underneath is an entirely different story with hidden twins
This Genesis couple employs a similar remote mount tactic
However I’m not sure if it is the only rear mount at this point
Would you expect a truck like this…
…to have this in the bed? This Ranger throws everyone for a loop
I’ve seen this car on two occasions, at the same show
Under the hood is a , a company that operated from the 1930s to late 50s
According to the owner this is one of a handful left in running condition

Can’t do a unique forced induction post without including the Latham supercharged Taylor’d Dodge
How about this turbo nail head?
It’s a blow through carb set up with an industrial turbo that apparently came from the parts bin
This car is just now seeing the dyno with its compound boost 1UZ

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The blower is a Ford unit
A Garret unit provides the rest of the boost

The first time I saw this quad turbo video from Nori Yaro I thought Quad turbos were a bit of a rarity

But it seems like quad turbo set ups have been done before, this car was started in 2002 or so

Got a crazy turbo set up I should take a look at? Let me know in the comments!

WTF Friday: Harley Powered…. Jeep?


Most of the time when Harley-Davidsons are mentioned around here it’s in WTF Friday context and this week, well, things are no different.

The builder of this Jeep Rod took the long way round for power by using four Harley-Davidson Evolution V-Twin motors.

The result is a combined 320 cubic inches, and 200ish horsepower, situated the front of a Jeep.

I’m sure the next question many of you have is ‘ya well what about the transmission, how’s that work?’ Well it seems there’s a center shaft and chain that connects all 4 motors to a TH400 automatic transmission.

Though it looks maybe a little exposed it all seems to work pretty well.

Current whereabouts of the Jeep are seemingly unknown as it was put up on eBay a few years ago to never been seen again.

I imagine it’s probably in someones collection, unfortunately collecting dust, but here’s to hoping that is not the case!


The Appeal Of A Fairlady: Tim’s ’72 G Nose Datsun 240


Sitting in the deep bucket Bride seat as we moved from the first shoot location to the next, it became immediately apparent to me that the 240 featured today is a driver’s car.

The ride is firm, there’s a satisfying clunk when put into gear and the sound of the L28 motor tempts you to bring it up to redline at any excuse.

Inside, the interior is fully trimmed, yet quite spartan. There’s everything you need to enjoy your spirited drive and nothing you don’t. A trio of gauges sit above the HVAC controls to monitor the vehicles vitals and a Nardi wheel keeps things headed down the road.

A wood grain knob topped gear stick protrudes from a custom shift boot (care of the previous owner) and that pretty well wraps up the interior modifications.

I don’t even recall seeing a radio.

Like the inside, the outside of the car is a mix of modifications aimed at making the driving experience better from both a visual and performance stand point.

Make no mistake that while this car does look absolutely phenomenal, it’s no show pony and can be easier found on the track than in a parking lot.

Still, it’s hard to deny its visual appeal.

The Marugen Shoukai Works body kit couldn’t better suit the car, and paired with the authentic G nose front end the car has a timeless look about it.

Ten days, ten months, ten years from now it will always be a head turner.

Under the flares are 15×11 sized RS Watanabe wheels with 235/50/15 Toyo R88 rubber. Behind the front wheels are Wildwood four piston brakes.

Out back the factory drums remain, owner Tim saw no need to swap to discs. As it’s set up he has no problem reining the car in before corners on the track days he frequents.

Under the hood, as mentioned is an L28 motor. It’s not stock however as Tim stroked it out to 3.0L and brought the compression to an 11:1 ration in the process.

Atop the motor are three Mikuni carbs fit to a Mikuni runner.

Since blow by is what necessitated the original engine rebuild, Tim keeps the under hood of the car remarkably clean at all times.

It makes it easier to see visually if he’s got an oil leak problem he should be concerned about.

Again, with function being the focus, bracing has been applied to the chassis in various areas. A T3 triangular strut tower brace stiffens up the front end with the help of a matching T3 unit in the rear.

Inside an Auto power rollbar adds further stiffening and added protection should the car end up shiny side down.

Ground control coil overs and Tockico illumina shocks are found at each corner. Additionally all of the control arms have been replacedl Futofab billet control arms are fit up front with matching tension rods. In the rear more T3 parts come into play in place of the factory arms.

Tim seemed a bit shocked when I complimented the ride of the car, but all things considered it was quite enjoyable.

Responsive and firm, but not bone jarring in the least.

As the sun set on the shoot, and the light danced off the fresh paint, I took a few extra moments to study the details that make this car a true Japanese classic.

The first time I saw Tim’s car was at Fitted in 2015 and while it wasn’t part of the show, it certainly stole some of it.

Being able to catch up with it two years larer for some photos was a treat and I thank Tim for taking the time out of his schedule to indulge me.

Next time of course, I’ll have to catch it on the track.

Guest Blog: What I Am Teaching My Child About Cars, So They Won’t Be Just Another Statistic


I get a lot of contributed post inquiries for this site, so when Patty from dropped a line I was intrigued. The connection between a single mom blogger and wasn’t immediately apparent so I asked Patty what she had in mind.

Unlike a lot of people who submit Patty came prepared with an idea that resonated with me. She reminded me that most ‘millennials’ have no idea how to change their own oil or tires. Worse still they don’t even know how to get their car repaired without getting ripped off.

Since high school (many moons ago) I’ve always felt that auto shop should have been a mandatory course, considering how many people depend on cars day in and day out.

That ideal is, I’m told, unrealistic so maybe parents like Patty are what we should hope for. Take it away Patty…

For teens, getting their driver’s license is a rite of passage, a giant step towards the independence they so covet. For parents, it’s the beginning of a bad dream – , late-night worrying, the inevitable dings or worse. It does get easier – teens learn by experience everyday and parents become more comfortable handing over the keys. For many parents it’s enough that their kids know how to get themselves home safely. However, that’s just the beginning. What your kids don’t know about driving cars could wind up costing you and them more money and trouble than you bargained for.

With my 20/20 hindsight glasses on I can see a number ways that, if I had only known better, I could have saved myself a lot of frustration, heartache and money. I was an only child and my dad died a year before I got my license, so I had no one around to teach me what I needed to know about cars. I in high school when I opted for wood shop instead of auto shop. Oh sure, I could drive. I was a great driver. But, as the years went by, it became clear that I really knew nothing about cars and I paid a big price. Intent on not letting that happen to my child, here is what I believe all parents should teach their children.

Car Maintenance for Kids

I find it interesting that of young adults would give up manually driving a car for a self-driving car. Maybe it’s because it will be one less thing they have to do – drive. Regardless of who is driving the car, it still requires maintenance. Car maintenance can be very expensive, especially if you don’t keep up with it. Forty percent of those same young adults said they were surprised by the high cost of maintenance. I don’t want me child to be surprised by anything, so I taught them some basic maintenance tips.

Tour under the hood. Give them a tour under the hood, pointing out the key parts that make the car run and what happens when they aren’t working properly–spark plugs, battery, air filter, etc. Don’t go too far into the weeds because you will want to quiz them by asking them to identify the parts.

Check fluids and tire pressure. Point out the various fluid sticks and explain why it’s important to check all of the fluids, including the oil, transmission, coolant and window wiper fluid. Make sure there is a tire pressure gauge in the car and teach them the importance of maintaining the proper tire pressure. This should be done on a monthly basis. If any of the fluids need filling or replacing, walk your teens through the steps.

Change the oil. When done on schedule, using the right grade of oil, changing the oil can extend the life of the car. Nearly one-third of young adults don’t know how to change the oil in their car. With all of the drive-through oil change shops, that may not be a big deal, but it is important that your teen drivers know how it’s done because it’s one more way to save money.

Change a tire. There is some comfort in knowing that 80 percent of young adults do know how to change a tire. Don’t let your kids be part of the 20 percent who don’t. With cell phones and roadside assistance you may not think there is a need, but flat tires don’t always occur within range of cell phone service.

Get a repair quote. When you need to take your car in for repairs, teach your kids how to get an honest quote. The Internet is their friend and they can use it to get online estimates from sites like RepairPal.com. They can also search Edmunds.com’s Car Maintenance Guide for an estimate. In searching for a garage, they can use Yelp.com to find the ones with the best ratings and reviews. Finally, teach them how to call a garage to get an estimate and let them know you are shopping around.

The best time to start teaching your kids about cars is when they first show an interest in them. I sleep a little better at night knowing my kid knows their way around cars.