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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.

WTF Friday: Frankenstein Automotive


Awful Taste But Create Execution, or ATBGE is a wonderful acronym. It accurately describes many things, and more importantly many a WTF Friday vehicle.

Taste is of course a personal, and subjective thing. Execution, however, is objective, and often makes someone’s own unique tastes more palatable.

I don’t think there’s anyone, anywhere, that would say a Bel Air Front end on a GMC van is in exceptional taste but, considering how difficult it likely was to achieve the execution here is pretty darn good.

Before you leap to the comment section to point out a few of this vehicles faults consider the fact that the van was built by students at the Hillside Academy East High School.

Hillside is an alternative school that uses projects such as this to get students interested in trades.

Allowing these kids to build whatever it is they imagine facilitates hands on learning, which is really invaluable for anyone who doesn’t relate to book learning.

All of the projects that come out of the shop class wear the “Frankenstein Automotive” logo which throws to the fact that they are all assembled from discarded parts from cars, bikes, and literally anything else within reach.

It’s also likely a tongue in cheek play at the fact that most people would look at them visually as monsters.

The ‘kit bashed’ nature in which the van was built continues around the rear end where a dually axle enters the picture along with the accompanying box flares.

A Cadillac rear bumper also serves as a place to house the dual exhaust that features caps on each tip.

According to the owner this odd duck is his swap meet hauler that collects parts for the next Frankenstein Automotive project.

The van isn’t the only one he’s completed either, in the video below he describes the processes behind another school project build.

Unique high school projects are a great way to get students hooked on cars (worked for me) so hats off to the teacher dreaming these creations up.

If more vehicles like this are born along side new enthusiasts then I’m certainly ok with that, how about you?

SEMA Showstopper: Street Carver


If you’re looking for the iconic look of a hot rod and the handling of a sports car  33 Hot Rod is the obvious answer. Designed to perform and completely, uniquely, configurable the and fiberglass or metal body is the perfect combination.

The McJannett brothers at have one of their own which is probably why they were drawn to this Factory Five built by .

Black Label is a new shop by former Gas Monkey Garage Monkey, Dustin Deleon. This is their first project as a unit and judging from the side skirts and large wing one can assume the vehicle is built to drive FAST.

The large 18×12 Boze Forged wrapped in 355 Toyo rubber only further supports this theory. As do the Wilwood brakes that will bring the vehicle to a stop.

An LS motor sends this one down the road and it looks like there’s an interesting exhaust routing through the chassis, perhaps through a system that doubles back on itself.

The overall attitude of this car is what made it a show stopper for me. Imagine the noises this car makes as it’s driven in anger?

Theme Tuesday: Wheels At SEMA 2017


With all the 2017 SEMA Show coverage flowing in via proxies Rob McJannett and Mark Bovey I missed last weeks’ Theme Tuesday.

That’s not uncommon in the SEMA hustle and bustle, but missing two week’s in a row isn’t my style, so this week’s SEMA-centric Theme Tuesday is all about the wheels of the 2017 SEMA show.

If you’re a die-hard wheel aficionado you’re going to enjoy this post!

BBS Center lock Wheels on @old_dtms e9 CSL
Work Equip 40s in beautiful gold and bronze
Can’t do a wheel post without a set of Rays Wheels, with matching lugs
VIP Modular wheels under a Trans Am that will be posted in the next batch of coverage
I think these are Atara Racing wheels under an e21
Detroit Steel Wheels on the Stoner’s Speed Shop Chevrolet
The same wheels under the ‘Slameo’
22 Raceline Commotion wheels tucked up under an RMD Garage Bel Air
Fifteen 52 Formula TR wheels under the Roadster Shop ‘Axis’ Camaro
MHT/US Mag wheels under the Classic Car Studio v10 Chrysler 300
20 inch HRE wheels on the Ring Brothers Javelin
20×11 HS Customs designed wheels built by Evod Industries
Not 100% sure what wheels these are, they look Torque Thurst-esque
Destroit Speed Inc wheel’s under Larry Woos 68 Camaro, nice touch with the Tire Paw Lettering too!
Foreglines under Optima Ultimate Street Car Challenge competitors
John Zacorack’s LS powered Dodge Conquest on CCW Classics
Close this one out with a display wall of awesome, small by wide wheels

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.

A post shared by (@ballmetalfab) on

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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.