Welcome to the ‘Chef’s Choice’ edition of our 2023 Motorama Custom Car & Motorsports Expo coverage.
My previous two stories from this event were theme-based, but this final look is simply going to be three vehicles I found really interesting. If there is any theme that can be derived from these three cars, it’s that none are quite like the other.
All of these vehicles were actually part of my initial gallery, and I have to admit I was surprised no one picked up on the ’67 C10 with nothing mechanical under the hood. Granted, I intentionally underexposed the ‘engine bay’ a little, but I still thought someone might notice that shenanigans were afoot.
If the lack of an internal combustion engine under the hood didn’t hint at what’s going on, then this tonneau cover should. This C10 has been electrified via a Tesla-based powertrain.
It was one of the more talked about vehicles in Motorama’s front hall, but I’d be lying if I said most of what I overheard was positive. Electric swaps are still considered controversial to many.
Personally, I think that we’re going to see more of this as the mystique around electric power starts to disappear. My, perhaps unexpected opinion is that there’s room for both in the hobby. We just shouldn’t force one or the other on people.
Not all hot rods need to be converted to electric, but at the same time, all cool cars don’t have to be internal combustion engine-powered. There’s a balance somewhere in the middle that I think we are starting to get closer to.
Tokyo Trans Am
Next up we’ve got a car I’ve wanted to see in person since late 2017. Built by JH Restorations in Ontario, this car debuted in the Edelbrock booth at SEMA 2019.
JH is only about three hours away from me, and typically I would have caught up with a car of this pedigree a lot sooner. But after its unveiling, it stayed in the United States for tuning at Edelbrock HQ before rolling out to a few more event appearances. Thanks to the craziness of the pandemic, it then ended up stuck stateside for much longer than intended.
Late last season, and this season, have been the car’s Canadian unveiling.
The ethos behind this build is simple: What if Toyota campaigned a vehicle in the Trans American Racing series of the 1970s? Naturally, already looking like a muscle car, the Celica was a clear choice.
Imagine if, after a competitive past, it was pulled from a barn and reimagined as an 5.7 LS V8-powered street/track/fun toy.
The car unites elements of both American and Japanese tuning in one very nice package. The front suspension is Ford Mustang II-based, which is a hot rodding trick nearly as old as time, and the wheels are American Racing Silverstones, a vintage remake that resemble Watanabes. The metal flares could honestly come from either side, while the interior (which I apologize was hard to shoot) is rather traditional to vintage Toyotas.
What I love about this car is that despite being a very new and well-sorted build, it has a worn-in look. That’s thanks to the original yellow patina and hand-painted graphics.
Seeing the Celica behind the rope at a show isn’t exactly the best way to present it, so I am hoping to be able to catch up with the car again later this season for a proper photoshoot. I’d say it deserves it, don’t you?
The Dirty Dandelion
The final car I want to showcase is one that I’m going to go full fan-boy over, not only because it was built by a childhood friend of mine.
The work of Keith, Brian, and Riley of Ontario’s Binbrook Speedshop, Dirty Dandelion is a 1927 Chevy 5-Window coupe. That’s right, this isn’t a Ford.
No, for the hot rod experts among us, you are not losing your minds – a 1927 Chevy 5-Window is not a car that ever existed.
All the metal work for the conversion was done in-house at Binbrook Speedshop, which included integrating new rear and side windows. The A-pillars have also been reshaped including integrating belt lines, while the roof was chopped down until it looked good.
The grill is a combination of two factory ’27 items, featuring a custom center bar and filled with one-off stainless steel bars. The headlights are also custom units. Heavy gold flake has been used anywhere chrome or polished steel isn’t.
Power comes from neither Ford nor Chevy but rather a 354ci Hemi V8 topped with a prototype Edelbrock intake. The intake, which is a highlight sought after 1-of-1, was found on a lawnmower motor-powered display tucked amongst other assorted forgotten artefacts.
Sometimes, the coolest car parts are found in the most unlikely of places.
White is the only real interior colour choice here. A ’36 Ford dash was added, featuring an again unique to this car waterfall down the middle. There are four different panels finished for the car – one louvred, one painted, one vinyl wrapped and the wooden one the car showed with at Motorama 2023.
But of course, there’s more. The rockers are dimpled, the floors are painted and there are louvers artfully placed throughout.
I could easily spend several hundred more words describing this car. There are countless hours that have gone into every part of it.
Reshaped upper cowl, custom firewall, hand-built pedals and steering arms, custom radiator, bespoke ladder bars, the entire interior structure of the body…
The years of work behind this car were worth it as it was awarded a Canadian Top 10 finalist.
Caught drooling over the car by its owner, I was told he wants to drive it as soon as it finishes up a couple more shows in 2023. Now that’s a true hot rod.