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Theme Tuesdays: 1.8T Motors In Everything


K-swaps, J-swaps, F-swaps, there’s been Theme Tuesday posts on all of them. I’ve done VR6 swaps and even sr20 swaps. One motor I have not done to date however is the Volkswagen 1.8t.

The 1.8t motor didn’t exactly set the world on fire when they were first released, but near the end of their run they put out just over 200 horsepower. Admittedly even still that isn’t a ton of jam. But the motor was offered in a ton of different vehicles.

From hatchback models to wagons Volkswagen wasn’t afraid of using, and reusing their little turbo four. This means there are plenty in scrap yards around the world.

In addition to being readily available they are not all that bad to maintain, and take to turbo modifications very well. Cheap, plentiful, and mod friendly? Sounds like a great swap candidate to me.

Back in 2013, the only time I’ve been to h2o, I spotted this 1.8t e30 at one of the many parking lot meets
If I’m not mistaken the owner of this was actually a streetable drift car
This car is now in the possession of Mike from GT Custom Exhaust.
As you can tell the motor is quite popular among e30 owners
One day I really ought to make it back to Eurokracy…
Remember this FB? It was first posted on the site in 2012 or so.
It’s had a Volkswagen heart for a few years now at this point, it’s one of the more unique 1.8t swaps around.

A Lotus Europa is the last vehicle I expected to find a 1.8t in
But the proof is in the pudding, as they say, you can read more about this car at
Project Dubin, a 1.8t powered rock crawler is one 1.8t swapped vehicle I would have loved to post more photos but Photobucket made that miserable. So here’s a link to a .

And to go along with that here’s a quick first start video.

Are you doing a 1.8t swap yourself or know of someone who is? Let me know in the comments below.

I feel like this motor is going to become one of many affordable go tos for projects around the globe.

WTF Friday: Hayabusa Powered Bradley GT


The Bradley GT is a car born in the late 70s kit car craze. It used a Volkswagen Beetle chassis and the body was entirely fiberglass.

The cars had sports car features like flip-up headlights and an open air feel.

Offered as an assembled car, or a DIY-kit, Bradley GTs vary somewhat in final specification.

Typically though typically they are powered by air-cooled Volkswagen motors.

This red example is not typical. There’s no air-cooled motor to be found here. Instead there’s a first generation Hayabusa motorcycle engine suspended between the rear tail lights.

It ‘fits’ but it is certainly not covered or subtle by anymeans. The motor is backed by a custom Rancho transaxle with a hardened input staff.

It’s also been tuned with a Power Commander and ‘autotune’.

Inside the gauge cluster has been brought over to support the new power plant and transaxle.

The interior also features a heavy amount of red and black to match the exterior.

The owner states the car was professionally built and is asking $9000 for the car to pursue a business venture.

If you’re curious, yes, it does run and drive as seen below.

Want to own this little terror? .

In Print: Mike Livia’s 1959 Chevrolet Apache


Mike Livia and Blair Taylor are no strangers to . The former owns and built the absolutely phenomenal 1936 Copperhead and the latter has built a variety of vehicles that have been featured here.

Late last summer they called me down to Taylor’d headquarters to take some photos of Mike’s summer driver, ’59 Apache that lays out on 20″ wheels.

I originally planned to run the feature of the truck here, but after editing I switched things up and decided to see if I could get them in print.

It had been a few years since I had worked with Terry, the editor of Canadian Hot Rods Magazine, so I gave him a ring.

He seemed stoked on the samples so I finished out the set. Writing a few words around the truck wasn’t too difficult since I spent a lot of time around the shop when the truck was coming together.

Once everything was ready I patiently waited for the truck’s turn in print. Fast forward to today and the feature is now on news stands as part of the April/May 2018 issue.

I honestly couldn’t be any happier with the layout Terry did for the feature. The two-page center fold shot that opens it up looks amazing laid out as he did.

The magazine is available on the , at Indigo, Wal-Mart and various news stands throughout Canada. It’s also available at some outlets in the United States as well. Finally it is also available digitally.

In addition to Mike’s truck there’s a lot of other really great builds featured. Including the Ford on the cover and a really cool AMC Rebel SST Pro Street wagon.

The photos in this post are actually proof edits and outtakes from the photo set. Since the final is out the door I am not free to release these photos.

There’s plenty more from this set so don’t be surprised if you see more pop up over time. I am going to use them to try out various editing techniques I’ve since learned.

I’ve set my sights on a few more publications for 2018 so lets see if I can keep this momentum going!

Motor Monday: Bullseye


Watching vehicles evolve over time, and having evidence of their evolution, is one of the perks of having more photos then you know what to do with.

In 2018 Motorama coverage I mentioned that the turbo set up on this local twin turbo Dodge Dart had changed from the last time I’d seen the car.

I took a minute to look back in the archives so I can illustrate just how much the car has changed under hood.

The two pictures below represent the difference from 2016 to now.

The setup has evolved from phase one rather significantly. The radiator is has been swapped, the turbos are now positioned entirely differently, they’ve been wrapped, and they just might be new units all together.

I’m sure all of these changes were not done arbitrarily as it doesn’t look like a car that was built just “because”.

The Dart is an all steel, leaf sprung car and the motor is a 514 Mopar big block. I don’t know what it runs yet but when I find out I’ll update this post.

Visually the car is rather unchanged and looks nearly identical to the photo above.

Event Coverage: Import Expo Toronto – Season Opener


In 2012 Import Expo held a solitary event in Toronto before taking their show across the border into the United States for five years. 2017 marked their homecoming hosting an event at the Toronto Exhibition center late fall.

After dipping their toe back in the Toronto waters, and not having it bit off, they’ve jumped both feet in for 2018. The 2018 Import Expo Toronto schedule includes three events, mid summer track event, an October season closer and the early spring season opener covered today.

I’m not going to lie, when they picked an April 8th date I wasn’t sure if the gamble would pay off.

Sure, technically it’s spring, but every show in Toronto before the end of May runs into issues filling it to capacity due to our fickle weather.

To put things in perspective for the out of town/country readers, the day before the event it was snowing. Not a lot, but snowing none the less.

I’d say most of the people competing don’t have access to a trailer, much less an enclosed trailer, so it takes a special type of commitment to roll to a show so early in the season.

So, truth be told, I went into this event with the expectation that the show field would be nearly identical to Motorama’s Spring Fever. Much to my welcomed surprise though the overlap between the two events wasn’t excessive at all.

The quantity/quality ratio of the show was really quite good overall with very few cars having a limited set of modifications.

Not sure what the organizers did to make this happen, but whatever it was they ought to keep doing it.

One of the most refreshing parts of Import Expo was the number of clean Hondas in attendance.

People love to take the piss out of Honda owners, but the ones that are truly in love with the brand know how to put together exceptional examples.

When I got home, and started sorting through the coverage, I was a little shocked at how many Hondas caught the attention of my lens.

The show wasn’t dominated by Hondas by any means, but they were certainly made up a lot of the vehicles that stood out. Be it built for performance, looks, or a bit of both the Honda crowd really brought their “A” game.

One of my personal favorite Honda’s of the event comes from powerhouse shop .

Dyna is the shop responsible for the Celica below, as if you could forget.

But for Import Expo they bought along something new, and I’m sure more than few people walked by without actually realizing how unique the car actually is.

At first glance this car is ‘just’ a very cleanly modified turbo EK. A turbo EK that makes 579 whp on pump gas, but a turbo EK all the same.

Things get a bit more interesting however when you consider that 579 was done on a base tune and in two wheel drive configuration.

No I didn’t make a mistake, and no I have not finally lost my mind. I said two wheel drive configuration because this car is in fact now all wheel drive.

But the proof is in the pudding, take a look at the video below.

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Those who knew about the car flocked to see it attempting to see what makes it all tick, but I’m sure a few people walked by without giving it a second glance.

Now more than ever I feel the need to make a trip out to Dynamotorsports and meet these magicians.

Another pretty wild, and likely AWD car (these were released awd and rwd not sure which this is) was this Nissan Stagea. There’s a very small number of these Ontario so seeing this one was pretty awesome.

If memory serves this car gets tracked somewhat regularly as well.

Rolling through the rest of the show, there was a little bit of something for everyone if Hondas were not your thing.

The venue wasn’t packed (it also wasn’t empty), but I imagine their next show (October 21) will be packed wall-to-wall.

As a photographer though I’m not one to complain about a little bit of breathing room between cars and aisles.

I made the best of the hall not being packed like a sardine can by busting out one of my prime lenses and getting some sharp shots of vehicles I’m usually unable to.

This Libery Walk S5 is usually at shows, and usually behind stanchions, which has prevented me from getting some photos that do it justice.

I think these few finally do. It’s also got one of the best looking wraps I’ve ever come across, I think it’s a white car under all the vinyl.

I was also able to get some isolated shots of this Rocket Bunny Rx-7. Unlike most Rocket Bunny cars this FD has it’s kit molded.

This is a bold move that can often yield undesired results but in this case it looked pretty damn good.

The sharp eyed among you probably noticed this hard to miss widebody Syncro (awd) Golf in the background of the FD butt shot.

It’s a super clean car, with a rare widebody(Reiger?) kit, and wide BBS RM wheels fit with appropriately sized rubber.

It’s a bit of a throwback styling wise but an appreciated one. What’s old is new after all.

When it comes to cars that have been around for years this 2002 ranks up there. As a former daily reader I remember this car when it was a different style of two tone, factory width, and non turbo.

Now of course none of the above is true, as it’s clearly a wide body turbo vehicle. Turbo stroker M20 in fact.

M Tricks Motorsports built this car, which if I am not mistaken it was a father son project.

Keeping on the subject of turbo BMWs this 325is was pretty awesome. No, it’s not a genuine m3 but it does a mighty fine job of playing the part.

I think it’s still a work in progress so expect a few more photos of this one as the year goes on.

When it comes to a vehicle to close out this coverage, I could think of no more deserving vehicle than this Lexus LS430.

Under construction for most of last year, it did manage to make it out onto the streets late last year. However myself and many others never got a chance to see it because the show season was pretty well wrapped up up by that point.

That means that Import Expo was the cars ‘official’ debut.

The VIP lexus is a product of a few of Ontario’s best shops coming together.

did the air ride and wide body, did the wheels and dialed in the fitment.

From the brushed wheel finish, the gills in the front fender, and the perfect rear flares it all comes together incrediblely well. Absolutely a fantastic build overall.

With the season now officially kicked off (more or less) thanks to Import Expo I’m eagerly looking forward to what the rest of the year has to offer.

It’s shaping up to be a great season.

Theme Tuesdays: Another Ten Instagram Builds You Should Be Following


Much to my dismay, many a build thread has moved over to Instagram. For the how-to enthusiast this is less than ideal, because Instagram really isn’t the best medium for in-depth mechanical break downs.

However, for quick updates, even I’ll admit it does work well. Unfortunately every time Instagram muddles with their troublesome, mysterious, algorithm builds get harder and harder to find.

For example I follow every builder in this post and I still had a heck of a time remembering the names and dredging them back up to the forefront of my timeline.

Frustrating, but it is what it is. Here are ten more Instagram builds you ought to follow.


I was put onto this build while I was on . Ron is building a pretty wild bagged and bodied third generation Ford Bronco.

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Full disclosure his Instagram isn’t dedicated solely to this truck, but if you also like minitruck clothing then you won’t mind giving him a follow.

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The light at the end of the tunnel is a truck that will be able to skate on massive 24×15″ wheels in the rear.

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Not shying away from the OJ references he’s currently attempting to get the Juice to autography the glove box. You know, if someone out there reading this knows somebody.


Dodge Conquests are a totally under appreciated vehicle. They look far better than most people give them credit for and they are right wheel drive.

Decently rare today, they are the perfect base for an a-typical build.

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This particular Conquest is LS powered (yay) and runs a unique cantilever suspension in the rear.

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If you’re wondering about the body panels Richard is building his own quarters, from scratch, out of carbon fiber.

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He’s currently pretty deep into the creation of said panels so if you’re into custom bodywork now is a great time to follow.

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I try to keep these posts unique, with no repeats, but sometimes exceptions have to be made.

I’ve included the Boss Roadster again because it’s been largely torn apart once more.

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Not completely happy with the car the first time around, Tommy has taken it back down to nearly nothing so he can properly address various the issues that cropped up with version 1.0.

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The old saying that projects are never ever really done applies here.

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For this second go round he’s addressing mechanical issues like drive angles, as well as aesthetic points like the tail lights.

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Pro touring trucks are awesome. And the Official Pro 10, C10, is further proof of this. Originally a Nascar short track truck, the fiberglass body has been removed, now replaced with modified factory sheet metal.

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This build actually crosses over between and Instagram so you can choose your own adventure in regards to staying up to date.

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If your into circle track cars, street cars, and c10s this is one build you should definitely be following.

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I think the intent is to have the truck ready for SEMA of this year, so things should really get cooking in a few months.


If the truck above wasn’t quite enough, you can also follow its nasty step child the Sinster D100.


Similar to officalpro10 it’s a short track Nascar truck that’s being converted for street use.

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This one is pretty new so if you hop on board now you won’t miss much.


I can’t mention race trucks without posting Mark Bovey’s Targa Truck. Mark’s truck has been quite unique for a long time but, with his sights set on hill climb it’s had to go under the knife for some significant changes.

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By significant I mean he cut the darn thing in half to install a new cage and moved the motor so far back far it’s practically a passenger.

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It has since been welded back together and recently landed at . Where it goes from here, well, that’s anyone’s guess.


This isn’t so much a solitary build as it is a collection of whatever the hell Mike is building at the time.

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Currently Mike is working on a TE72 wagon that he should will be sliding on the track as early as this Saturday.

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Mike’s attention to detail, talent and plain speed is nearly unrivaled. He took his new battle wagon from a hunk of nothing to track ready seemingly overnight.

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The craziest thing is there’s no guarantee he’ll even have it next month because something new could catch his eye seemingly at a whim.


I could have sworn I posted Pipey’s build in a previous ‘builds you should be following’ post but alas I had not.

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This Jaguar E-type took the internet by storm a few months ago when it was debuted at Retro Rides. Then it had a Mazda20b motor under hood.

Today that motor has been yanked, and replaced with a BMW S65 V8 instead.

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The reasoning? He was tired of dealing with getting the rotary to run right.

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Obviously the new motor in no way takes away from the sheer awesomeness that is a completely custom, dumped, swapped Jaguar.


I follow a few different trucks like Project Why Wait on Instagram but Brandon Toland’s is a little different from the rest.

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First, he’s keeping the straight six motor in the truck. This isn’t really common because the straight six motors are really nothing to write home about. They often leak, are expensive to modify, and stock just make highway speeds.

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As though he’s a sucker for punishment he’s also retaining the straight axle in the front, despite making the choice to put it on air.

The road less traveled seems to be the road #slick50 is going to occupy.

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Tripling down he’s also using a very unique under-slung rear suspension set up.

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With such side wheels out rear I’m really curious how he’s going to handle the rear fenders so I’m keen to follow along.


The final build for this post is a Triumph GT-6 project that I’ve actually had an open invite to go check out for over a year now.

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Like most of the other builds featured today Sean’s Instagram isn’t solely dedicated to his car, but it’s pretty close.

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Sean, who studied mechanical engineering, is giving his Triumph the heart of a Mazda MX-5. This will give it a bump in performance and reliability.

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But he’s not just slapping the motor in there. While the thing is blown apart he’s addressing the frame, suspension, body, and wiring.

This one’s no walk in the park and he’s also documented it a little bit more in depth .

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There’s also a few other very interesting cars in the shop that make an appearance on Sean’s Instagram, but those are another post for another time.

Want to follow more builds? Check out Ten Instagram Builds You Should Be Following Part 1 and Part 2.

Project Why Wait: Installing LS Fabrication Firewall Fillers


After unboxing the Langes Shop (now LS Fabrication) firewall fillers in the last Project Why Wait update I had a bit of a “what have I got myself into” moment when reality set in. I’d never welded sheet metal before and I was about to cut out my firewall.

, and watching others do it, is one thing but picking up the torch and getting it done? Another entirely.

However Chris Lange (the Lange in ) reassured me that the installation is fairly straight forward. Even for the inexperienced weekend warrior typing this post.

So, instructions in one hand and a grinder in the other, it was time to make some sparks.

First things first, I had to clear the cab of anything particularly flammable. Cleaning out a 67-year-old truck, that’s spent the last few years outside, is in no way an enjoyable task.

Animal feces, cigarette butts, tools, old clothes… you’d be surprised just how much crap can hide in a truck that looked empty. I didn’t take any pics of this process as it was head down and plow through to better things ahead.

With everything cleared out, stripping what remained on the firewall off was next. Then I traced the firewall fillers with a sharpie before masking it out with tape.

With a fire extinguisher close at hand, I used an angle grinder fit with a thin cutting wheel to do the dirty work. The instructions state to leave about a 1/2″ over lap to make fit up a little easier so that’s precisely what I did.

I have to give a shout out to LS Fabrication for including two very crucial things in the instructions.

The first, was a photo of the firewall support you see above. I could have easily zipped those right off had the instructions overlooked mentioning them. Second, including what size drill bit to use for removing spot welds very helpful.

At the time I didn’t have a spot weld cutter so knowing what size to use, without several trips to the toolbox, really helped keep the pace up in the garage.

Since I’ve received my fillers, LS Fabrication has shipped several around the world. With so many builders using them each installer does things a bit differently. Some people have omitted cutting out the factory firewall entirely.

After briefly considering this approach, the fear of moisture accumulating between the factory firewall and the new panel scared me away.

During fitment checks, and before tacking, I used some Gorilla tape to hold the fillers in place.

It’s a bit crude, but, my small welding magnets were not quite up to the task.

Once I was happy with fitment I tacked the panels in and checked everything again.

I actually ended up later removing the passenger side filler to cut out more material and fit it a bit better which you may notice in some of the photos below.

At this point I could have welded the fillers in to create a lap weld. But after talking to a few friends (big thanks to Jeff Wybrow, Dennis Thorne and Pat Cheately) they all suggested running a cutting disc around the outside of the panel.

This would create a gap so I could butt weld the panels together versus lap welding them. Lap welding opens up an opportunity for moisture to accumulate and moisture leads to rust. That said butt welding is a somewhat more challenging because it is easier to burn through.

My machine set up for this job was a Lincoln MIG Pack 10, 110amp, welder and .030 wire. Machine settings were pretty close to what was prescribed on the inside cover, save for minor wire speed adjustments as I went.

On the driver’s side, after I cut all the way around, I ended up performing about a half-inch weld at a time. Alternating in a star pattern across the panel.

This method worked pretty well but it wasn’t the typical method I read in similar how to articles.

So, for the passenger side I did the tack, tack again, then tack between those tacks, method. I did that until there were no holes left in my line of tacks.

Using my air blower throughout helped minimize warping of the metal.

To be entirely honest both methods took about the same amount of time and looked reasonably similar after grinding.

Admittedly I think the heat affected the passenger panel a bit more (not to a noticeable degree once I finish it out) so my suggestion here would be use whichever method you feel most comfortable with.

Because I am learning, I tried both.

Following the initial passes were steps I was familiar with; weld, grind, weld repeat.

The tools you see below got a lot of use this month, along with a set of safety goggles and a dust mask.

After making a lot of noise and plenty of sparks I was able to get the firewall fairly blended in.

Once I finish replacing the front of my floors (to be covered in another update) I’ll put a little more metal work in before I break out the various body fillers.

I will also show you how I plan to tackle the inside of the firewall to make sure this job holds up to the tests of time.

To get a head start on the bodywork I dug out some paint stripper and stripped everything off the firewall in the areas I will be working over.

Eventually the entire firewall will be completely stripped before it goes to . Any guesses on the color I’m having the engine bay sprayed?

At first glance the job might look daunting but it’s really not too bad provided you have a welder and a slight bit of experience with it.

The visual change, even incomplete, is remarkable.

Hopefully walking you guys through install of the fillers helps remove any hesitation you might have in regards to tackling something similar.

If I can make it through so can you, and if you have any questions don’t hesitate to ask.

Motor Monday: Rotary Powered Datsun 1600


The Datsun 1600 is not on the short list of vehicles I would expect to see at the Detroit Autorama.

Actually, truth be told, I don’t know where I’d expect to see one because before this one I’d never seen one in person before.

I feel a little bad for any of the 1600s I from here out because  has set the bar pretty high with this example.

Set up as a quarter mile machine this car no longer has a Datsun/Nissan motor underhood. Instead there’s what looks to be a 13b joined by a turbo and a plethora of goodies.

The appearance of a –an Australian based rotary engine builder– sticker on the side suggests the rotary engine found in the Datsun is quite stout.

However I can’t much firm information about this car online, on PACs page, Horspower Techs page or anywhere else.

What I do know is that this is at least the cars second time at Autorama.

In 2016 it appeared at the show less complete than it is now. Today, minus a driveshaft, it looks about ready to go.

So, internet, this is where I turn to you for help. Does anyone know the history on this little weapon? It looks like it’s ready to tear a drag strip to pieces and look good doing it.

WTF Friday: The World’s Biggest Body Drop?


Minitruckers have been chasing ‘more low’ ever since the first coils were cut. When frames hit the ground it wasn’t too long before rockers did.

Then, soon after rockers were planted doors hit the dirt as well. Traditional body drops gave way to stock floor body drops, and after that people went even further eyeing up the lower body line.

A lot of these more drastic body drops were featured in a 2015 WTF Friday post appropriately titled Extreme Body Drops.

The  fullsize Chevy featured in this post was the inspiration for that post.

Gregors Garage took a rough Chevy and went straight up to the lower body line without hesitation. Presumably this was done because everything below that point had returned to the earth.

The truck debuted at a show about this time two years ago under construction. It obviously turned a few heads and I remember seeing the truck on SpeedHunters.

Personally though I forgot the truck shortly after and definitely wasn’t expecting to see it again this clean.

Seeing the truck with fresh paint laid out on carpet really puts into perspective how damn low the thing really is.

The fact that the hood closes and the wheels don’t pop up over the the bedsides is truly impressive. Accomplishing this was no easy feat.

A factory small block would have had no hope of fitting under the hood, so it’s been replaced with a motor from an Alfa Romeo of all things.

Being fairly flat the motor allowed the hood to close fully. More importantly the hood does so without a cowl. Huge cowls or just plain motors protruding damn near over the roof is usually what kills the lines on these types of body drops.

Inside the floor, tunnel, dash, and really everything else has been completely redesigned and reconfigured to make everything work.

Notice the brake master cylder is now behind the dash because there was simply no room for it under hood.

The truck doesn’t appear to be fully complete quite yet, but it’s pretty close. if you want to see this one scrape past the finish line.

Wonder what it looks like driving…

Theme Tuesdays: Recently Viewed – March 2018


Spring has sprung and we’re now one month closer to summer, thankfully. With the season kicking off with Motorama and Autorama I’ve had my second monitor playing Netflix or YouTube videos non stop.

Here’s a few of the videos that I’ve been watching this month. As always I’m down for new channels if you’ve got some to recommend.