December, 2018 -- It was a year when auction sales records were rewritten and a whole new group of ultimate custom builds hit the show circuit. One of the biggest news items in 2018 was the sale of a 1962 Ferrari 250 GTO, which with a $48,405,000 price tag, set an all-time public auction record. Interestingly, the previous record holder was another 1962 Ferrari GTO, which sold in 2014 for $38,100,000. Obviously, these early ‘60s Italian race cars must be considered one of the most coveted collector cars on the planet. It was also the year when a new record was set for an American car sold at auction. A 1935 Duesenberg Model SSJ, formally owned by actor Gary Cooper, sold for $22,000,000, which also made it the 3rd most expensive car sold in 2018. The previous record was set when an American car, a 1962 Shelby Cobra (CSX 2000), sold for $13,750,000 in 2016. Another car making waves in 2018 is the brand new 3rd generation Ford GT. This limited production supercar has a base price of $450,000, but you must be an approved purchaser by Ford. Part of the approval process is the buyer’s agreement not to resell the car. Somehow a couple of these cars still made their way to public auction and bidding wars ensued, with one selling for $1,815,000. Also in the news, the release of the insane 850 HP Dodge Demon. This factory muscle car on steroids is slated for only one year of production, making it a hot item on the auction circuit, selling in some cases $60,000 over its base price, proving again that it is all about supply and demand.
In 2018, a new crop of ultimate high-end builds hit the show circuit winning awards and wowing crowds. For these are one-of-kind creations, cost is not a limiting factor and neither is the imagination of the builders. Here are our picks for the top eight classic builds for the year
Owner: Greg & Judy Hrehovscik and Johnny Martin
Builder: Johnny’s Auto Trim & Rod Shop
Awards: Ridler Award winner
If you ask a custom car builder to name the one award they would want above all others, most would say the Ridler trophy, presented annually at the Detroit Autorama. In 2018, this highly-coveted award went to a radically stylized 1957 Chevy with a distinctively lowered roof line and a streamlined profile. But, this was just the start of a long list of unique changes to this iconic classic which was essentially handbuilt from bumper to bumper. It is powered by a big block 515 Chevy with twin turbos, making 1000 HP on pump gas. The interior, a total custom design, is all wrapped leather with trim accents in understated elegance. It is interesting to note that in its 55 year history this is the first time a 1957 Chevy has won the Ridler. More from the Detroit Autorama…
Owner: Stuart Adams
Builder: Detroit Speed
Awards: Great 8 Finalist, Goodguys Street Machine of the Year (2018), Shades of Past Street Machine of the Year, SEMA 'Battle of the Builders (Hot Rod Class)
A multi-award winning car from Detroit Speed, this Camaro’s beauty is more than skin deep. It is packed with the latest suspension and drive train components to make it both a muscle car and a track star. We watched it run the Autocross at PPG Nationals in Columbus this year, where it had no problem carving up the cones, while maintaining its formal ‘Tux’ image. This is one show car that backs up its looks with the agility of a modern sports car. See our interview above with the Kyle Tucker, Mr. Detroit Speed himself, where he describes the high tech packed in this All-American classic. More from the Goodguys PPG Nationals…
Owner: Dana & Marge Elrod
Builder: Boesch Auto Body
Awards: NSRA Builder of the Year, Finalist for Goodguys Street Rod of the Year, Finalist in the SEMA Battle of the Builders
This triple black roadster appears to be in motion just sitting there. There is an obvious ‘Old School’ theme to the build but this is anything but just another hot rod. Every body part has been subtly massaged to give this roadster a refined look that is as good as it gets. Up front peeking out of the engine bay is a Chrysler FirePower Hemi with leather hold-down straps on the hood – too cool. The interior, a work of art itself, has so many details incorporated into the cockpit that it takes a while to full appreciate all of them. The builder, Dale Boesch, told us this roadster was not built from a drawing, but from his ‘mind’s eye’ of what it should look like. Quite an achievement in itself. More from the NSRA Louisville…
Owner: Chris & Greg Allen
Builder: Superior Autoworks
Awards: Great 8 Finalist, Runner up at Hot August Nights
This first year Camaro can best be described as automotive jewelry. Under the lights at this year’s Detroit Autorama, it’s gold paint and chrome glittered like precious stones. And topping it all off was the spectacular bling under the hood where untold hours and dollars were spent creating one of the most outstanding engine bay displays ever. This is auto eye-candy at its best.
Owner: Chris Ryan
Builder: Ryan’s Rod & Kustom
Awards: Great 8 Finalist, Custom car legend Gene Winfield’s pick for Best Custom of the Year
Appropriately named the “Scarlet Lady,” it is hard not to stare at this ruby-colored Continental with its original trendsetting body style, which has been further enhanced by a ‘60s Rock & Roll custom look. It even has a color matching Fender guitar and a vintage Fender amp in the trunk. Inside is “old school” tuck & roll seats with red piping and a custom dash sporting a Chrysler “letter car” gauge pod. The engine has been upgraded to a 5.0 Coyote with a custom cover displaying a Lincoln logo. The builder, Chris Ryan, gives us the celebrity background on this Continental and his inspiration for creating this blast from the past in the interview above.
Owner: Mark & Dennis Mariani
Builder: Rad Rides by Troy
Awards: Goodguys Street Rod of the Year and SEMA Battle of the Builders winner (2017)
This street rod has the “bad to the bone” look, with a stance and refined body work that tell you right away it is another top build from Rad Rides by Troy. Look closer, and you will find a multitude of innovative features, such as a tricked out fuel injection engine with an Offenhauser intake manifold, a one-of-a-kind exposed steering arm setup, and a unique quick change rear end. It’s not just one component that makes this hot rod a star, but the total package of the design, including the artful used of color shades and finishes. More from Goodguys PPG Nationals…
Owner: Ron Berry
Builder: Ron Berry
Awards: Sam Barris Memorial Award
First, you should know that no VW buses were harmed in creating this amazing build. Although it resembles the iconic German people hauler, it was totally built from scratch from the creative mind of Ron Berry. Its curved shape and oversized wheels are intended to give it that cartoon appearance, with the illusion it is not a real vehicle. However, upon closer inspection, you’ll recognize how Ron’s attention to detail, his tasteful application of colors and materials, as well as the skilled craftsmanship resulted in a Kahuna custom build. This bus is a real head turner and is the definition of “fun on 4 wheels.” Be sure to check out our interview with Ron as he describes (and demonstrates) all the special remote features he has incorporated into Surf Seeker.
Owner: Prestone Co.
Builder: Ring Brothers
Who would ever want to make a last generation AMX Javelin into a show car? Well, the Ring Brother sold the idea to Prestone Company by turning the awkward-looking Javelin into a true fire breathing modern street machine. Along with body modifications to bulk up the outer appearance, they installed a Chrysler Hellcat engine, but they still weren’t satisfied with (just) 750 HP. After some tuning and a new blower, the Hellcat was boosted to over 1000 HP for some serious fun. Adding to its uniqueness, the car was painted a distinctive shade of gold to resemble Prestone’s coolant color. Defiant became quite a celebrity at many of the classic car shows during the year, and has been featured in several internet burnout videos. We were lucky enough to watch "Defiant" attacking the autocross course at the 2018 Goodguys PPG Nationals, which you can watch in the above video.
Didn’t see a vehicle on our ‘Top Classic Build in 2018’ list that you feel should be? Give us a shout - we'd like to hear from you.