Category: Car Shows

A New Cadillac for the Driving Enthusiast

So much of the talk about new technology in the automotive world has been centered around self driving cars, making true driving enthusiasts everywhere cringe at the thought of being behind a wheel that they’re not steering. So it was refreshing to see Cadillac’s introduction of their new 4.2L twin turbo V8 engine, a completely re-imagined design and the first motor exclusive to Cadillac in years.

This engine places the turbo at the front end of the exhaust cycle, a more compact design dubbed the “hot vee” configuration. This efficient design cranks out 550hp and 627 pound feet of torque. Reimagining this new engine’s design from scratch was no small task – Cadillac’s Chief Executive Engineer Brandon Vivan explained that the redesign was a three-year process.

Anyone who wants to see what this new motor can do can test it out in Cadillac’s 2019 CT6V-Sport, an everyday car built to appeal to driving enthusiasts. This car can take you on your normal driving routine, or you can put it in track mode and push it to its limits (which you should actually do at the track!).

The CT6V Sport is part of Cadillac’s ambitious portfolio reinvention: every six months Cadillac will introduce a new model until 2021! The team at Cadillac has a strong foundation to build on, which also means the cars they are creating have big tire tracks to fill. Their focus is on quality and performance while staying true to Cadillac’s heritage as a luxury brand. I definitely recommend stopping by the Cadillac area at the auto show to learn more about this new engine technology and sit behind the wheel of the new V-Sport!

The Genesis of a Classic

“On the first day God created the earth, on the second day he created the Corvette…” Dan Short jokingly answered when I asked him who this sparkling red Corvette was built for. Although I think he was only half joking – I could believe there was some divine intervention in the creation of a ride this beautiful!

On the third day of the SEMA show I was lucky enough to walk around the car with him and pick his brain about this cool build. Turns out a lot of this car was put together largely with spare parts they had around the shop, but the one part that sets this off from any other red Corvette on the road is the removable split window hard top. Dan and his team created this removable hard top by cutting the top off an original ’63 split window coupe and using it to create a mold. This mold was used to fabricate a fiberglass hard top that can be placed onto a convertible with a perfect fit and finish. The fiberglass construction and custom clip system makes it easy for two people to pop the top off and let their hair blow in the wind on the next ride.

As if the original Chevy small block wouldn’t have made this ‘vette fast enough, Dan decided to dust off an LS engine from his inventory and incorporate it into this build. He said the LS conversion was a smooth process for this build, and didn’t even have to modify the firewall or floor to accept the transmission he paired with this motor. A custom performance suspension set up gives this classic the tight handling any driver would want to handle the power behind the LS.

As cool as this car is, the story behind the builder is even cooler. Dan bought his first car – a 1967 Camaro – from a guy that he chased down the road, following the billow of smoke the car was puffing out. Not long after he did the deal he had to chase down the prior owner again…to ask him how to open the hood! It’s amazing to think that this same teenager went from struggling with a beat up ’67 to heading up a shop that puts out one of a kind builds on a regular basis.

But this transformation didn’t happen overnight. Shortly after he bought this car he enlisted in the U.S. Army and continued to serve our country for the next 15 years, retiring honorably as a Major in 2005. During his military career he traveled the world in service, while also honing his technical mechanical knowledge. The skills he learned while enlisted were not only used on military machinery, but on the piece of American muscle he had back home. Over time he built and rebuilt his Camaro, which he still owns and plans on restoring one more time.

Learning about Dan’s story was especially cool for me, because my first car was also a Camaro…and I still drive it today. Working on my car over the years has not only helped me gain technical knowledge, but also taught me the value of hard work and determination. Dan’s hard work, determination – and love of classic rides – resulted in the shop we know today as FantomWorks. His inspirational story is proof that amazing things can be accomplished, no matter where you start out!

The Tail of Three Customs

As I walked through the SEMA show I caught myself having a serious case of automotive ADD, I could barely focus on one amazing build before the next shiny piece of machinery caught my eye. But I will say that some of the shiniest builds always seem to be in the BASF booth…not sure if it’s the paint or the skill of the teams behind the builds, but either way they are awesome! This year I was lucky enough to catch the unveiling of three custom builds BASF featured in their display.

First was JF Launier’s 1967 Acadian, finished in a custom red R-M ONYX HD paint. Of course the customization didn’t stop at the paint. The cool stripe detailing is complimented by the custom chrome details throughout the car, and a Katskin leather interior. This car is dubbed “Adiamo,” a play on the Spanish translation of Nova which is “no go.” Well this car will definitely go with an LS3 engine putting out 550 horsepower!

Next came Chip Foose’s customized 1933 Ford Coupe, which was finished just in the knick of time for this show. Chip shared the behind the scenes story of how a stray spark flew onto the completely taped and masked body, causing it to burst into flames. This happened just 8 days before the reveal, but you would never know it looking at this gleaming hot rod on the SEMA show floor. It is finished in a BASF Glasurit 90 Line custom blue and silver two-tone paint, with a killer LS3 Corvette motor built by Street & Performance under the hood. The body includes lots of custom Foose touches, including re-fabricated front fenders and grill. His head painter looked both proud and exhausted as Chip spoke and praised the build team.

As anyone can imagine, a Chip Foose build is a hard act to follow. But the Ringbrothers definitely did their thing, finishing off the BASF reveal with their customized “Espionage” 1965 Mustang. This ride is given a one-of-a-kind look by its wide carbon fiber body, which is extended 2” on each side. The original car was disassembled and each piece of the body was used to create molds for new carbon fiber components, a process that took more hours then the build team would like to count! Although everything on the body except the floor was rebuilt with carbon fiber components the final weight comes in at 3400 lbs, a few hundred pounds heavier than this model’s original spec weight. This modification didn’t make the car lighter, but instead makes up for the additional weight all of the performance machinery lurking beneath the carbon fiber shell. It might be hard to decide which side of the American Muscle rivalry this spy green Mustang is on, as its powered by a 427 cubic inch Chevy LS7 engine. Either way this ride is cranking out over 900 horsepower and looks good doing it. But there’s a back story to this reveal too…today was the first time the owner of this car was seeing it, and I don’t know if the build team was more nervous about revealing it to the public or their client. I had a chance to ask the owner what he thought of his new car as he looked it over for the first time. When asked if it was everything he expected, through a slight smile he replied that it was everything and more. When I learned he was originally from Russia I asked “why an American muscle car?” He explained that he loves the spirit of classic cars, in his opinion new cars have no soul. Well this Mustang definitely has an old soul, and a new life as an amazing performance machine.

Thanks to BASF and all three build teams for bringing these amazing rides to the 2015 SEMA show. I can’t wait to see what’s in store for next year’s show!

The Ford Mustang Turns 50

On April 17, 1964 Ford introduced what was dubbed the “1964-1/2” Mustang, the first production year of which was 1965. This went on to be their most successful launch since the Model A, and holds just as much popularity today. One day short of 50 years later at the New York Auto Show, Ford gave an anxious crowd the scoop on how they are going to celebrate this golden anniversary.
They have events lined up across the globe from New York, to Las Vegas to Dubai. But in my opinion the coolest thing they are doing to celebrate already happened in the wee hours of the night on the observation deck of the Empire State building: they assembled a bright “triple-yellow” 2015 Ford Mustang GT convertible up there for the world to see. But believe it or not, this isn’t the first time Ford pulled this off. Back in October of 1965 they did this for the first time, with a white convertible. Both times they disassembled the car so that it would fit piece by piece into the building’s freight elevator. Once the observation deck was closed at 2am the pieces were brought up and reassembled on the deck in time for it to reopen at 8am. This is no small feat to accomplish in a matter of six hours!
But back at the Auto Show Bill Ford introduced the 50th anniversary edition of the Mustang. It includes a number of details that give a nod to the first edition of this car, including the badges and chrome details. Ford sees the design of the 50th anniversary Mustang as a “Symbol of where ford has been and a vision of where we are going.” Take a look at the photos below and let us know what you think!

Presidential Rides – I bet you didn’t know…

These days we take for granted that the President rides in one of the most advanced armored cars that rolls down the street, but this wasn’t always the case. Until the attack on Pearl Harbor prompted the Secret Service to beef up security for President Franklin D. Roosevelt, the President usually rode in any car of his choice.

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Chevy Unveils the Camaro Z/28

During the unveiling of the new Camaro Z/28 I saw the face of a man in love. It was the face of Mark Reuss, President of GM North America, as he spoke about the newest addition to the Camaro family.


The love affair started about two years ago when this model was in development. After a board meeting the team took a few of the board members for a ride in the prototype vehicle and the love was contagious! The team got the nod to further the development, resulting in the prototype unveiled at this year’s New York Auto Show.
This car was built for speed, and as Mark Reuss described it, “set up for track perfection, just like the original Z28.” The engine is a high revving, naturally aspirated, small block LS7 V8 with an estimated 500HP and 470 foot pounds of torque. Just to make sure you get where you’re going as fast as possible any extra weight was removed. This was done by removing extra insulation, using special glass for the rear windshield, eliminating most of the speakers, and if you really are a purist you can decide to go without air conditioning – yes, that is optional!

But as much as you’ll want to blow down the track in this street legal race car, you may need to stop once and a while. Don’t worry, you’re covered with carbon ceramic brakes made especially for track use.
During the press conference this car was described as “The defining point of the Gen-5 Camaro.” Inside and out this car is designed for the driver with the need for speed…it’s lean toward performance and away from luxury may not appeal to the masses, but for the racer Camaro fans out there this is the car for you!

Malik Yoba Visits the Pit Crew

What does “manhood” mean to you? This question was posed to the students of the Pit Crew when they were visited by actor Malik Yoba earlier this week. Malik generously donated his time to visit the students of Automotive High School as part of the mentorship program. He is a Brooklyn native who has created many years of success in his field as an actor, but also has experience teaching in various environments. His interest in sharing his insights with our youth and his appreciation of fast cars brought him to the program.


The discussion of manhood actually began outside the school as we walked up the steps toward the entrance. Looking up at the building Malik noticed the carving that reads “Manhood Service Labor Citizenship.” After we settled into the auto shop with the Pit Crew and introduced our guest to the students, he asked if they knew what the inscription said. The teachers in the room knew the answer but most of the students were stumped by the question. This sparked a conversation about what manhood means to these students, a discussion that yielded a variety of interesting and thoughtful answers.

We also talked about the possibility of the Pit Crew’s work being filmed for TV…so far this is only an idea, but it was great to hear what the students and teachers thought of this opportunity.

The Riding With Us Foundation appreciates Malik Yoba taking the time to visit Automotive High School, and we look forward to bringing more guests to this great group of students.

From Cold Storage to Cool Cars

One of the most creative examples of architectural repurposing I’ve seen lately is the Fast Lane Motor Club in Asbury Park, NJ. They took what was basically an oversized meat locker and turned it into a safe, secure and climate controlled garage for collector cars. The owner of the facility even stores his prized Oldsmobile 442 – which has been shown in Dubai – in the building, so you know he stands behind his product!
If you want to check it out yourself you can stop by the third Saturday morning of every month for their Cars and Coffee event. It’s a chance to see the cool rides being stored in the building, and you never know what everyone dropping by is going to pull up in. Motorcycles are welcome too so no one is left out. If you want to find out more check out their facebook page by clicking HERE.

SEMA Product Highlights

One of the best things about walking through SEMA is learning about new products you’ve never seen before, as well as getting re-acquainted with some familiar names. Here’s highlights of some of the products I saw at SEMA this past fall.


American Eagle Wheel Corporation:
There are too many ways to customize your ride to count, but when you throw on custom wheels you can change the whole personality of your ride…is it low key, flashy or over the top? You can make it whatever you want with wheels from the American Eagle Wheel Corporation. They are the oldest and largest domestic manufacturer of aftermarket wheels, making their products in factories in California and South Carolina. Their line includes classic wheels like the chromed out BOSS 338, wheels especially built for off-roaders like the bulletproof B.A.D. Wheels, and the first 20” dually wheel on the market for all the truck enthusiasts out there. See more on their website at


This year at SEMA the BASF booth showed off some awesome builds utilizing their Galsurit paint system. This product uses a state-of-the-art European technology that leaves the finished product with a liquid shine. The ease, speed and durability of this product are highlighted by the manufacturer, and with the stamp of approval from Chip Foose these claims must be true! He even has his own line of over twenty different colors, leaving the consumer with a great variety of hues to choose from. The booth included Foose’s 1948 Cadillac Eldorado “Eldorod” finished with a custom blended Deep Blue from the Glasurit 90-Line waterborne system. This smooth, sleek ride kept company in the booth with the mean green “Grinch,” a 1970 Chevy Camaro. The Ringbrothers also used the Glasurit line to finish off this masterpiece in Custom Green. To find the perfect color for your next project car go to the BASF website at


Continental Tire:
Continental Tire showed off their tire line on a variety of hot rides. One product highlighted was their PureContact all-season tire, which improves fuel efficiency, braking ability and ride comfort. Another product of note is the CrossContact LX20. Both tires were showcased in this year’s Consumers Digest “Best Buys in Tires.” Find out more at


“Proven Performance” is the philosophy of this respected manufacturer of performance enhancing engine components, and the history behind this company reflects this mantra. In 1938 Vic Edlebrock Sr. entered into the world of hot rods with the purchase of a 1932 Roadster. In the process of working on this car he designed his own aluminum intake manifold called the “Slingshot” because he was not happy with the performance of the car thus far. This endeavor began a long history of customization to achieve optimal performance, after many trials and tests. In 1948 he bought one of the industry’s first dynos, bringing his research capabilities to another level. Edelbrock as a company has come a long way since then, producing a variety of intake manifolds, carburetors, fuel injection systems, cylinder heads, and a range of other products from accessories to entire crate engines. Their product development is never ending, this year they expanded their E-Force Supercharger line, and announced the development of their E-Street universal electronic fuel injection system. To see more of what they can add to your favorite hot rod go to their website at


Holley Performance Products:
Fuel is the life blood of your ride, and having the right fuel delivery system can make all the difference in your engine’s performance. Whether you prefer the old school carburetor or want to add the technology of fuel injection Holley has what you need. As a compliment to their fuel delivery products Holley’s brands include Hooker Exhaust Systems, NOS Nitrous Systems, Weiand Air Systems, Earl’s Plumbing Systems and Flowtech Exhaust Systems. Holley became a part of automotive history when they built the carburetor for Henry Ford’s Model A, and have continued to contribute to the industry ever since. Learn more on their website at


Anyone who knows automotive sound systems knows that Kicker cannot be ignored. Kicker’s booth at SEMA featured some unforgettable projects that highlighted why the brand has been “Livin’ Loud” since 1973. Highlighting Kicker’s new Ford Custom Accessories Performance Audio System upgrades program, available at participating Ford dealerships in early ’13, was a Ford F-150 tricked out with a 10-inch powered subwoofer enclosure driven by a 200 Watt RMS high-efficiency digital sub amplifier, plus four 6×8” coaxial door speakers, powered by a 4.1-Channel DSP Amplifier. Or if all-out custom is more your thing then TJ Lavin’s 1951 Ford Shoebox is the car for you. Divine 1 Customs outfitted this ride dubbed “Forgiven” to pay tribute to WWII bomber planes. The sound system includes Kicker QS 6.5” component speakers, a KQ5 equalizer, ix amplifiers, and two 10” CVX subwoofers customized to look like missiles behind the front seats. To see what Kicker has for your sound system take a look at their website at


Kooks Custom Headers:
Having the right headers and exhaust system can make the difference between average performance and great performance in your custom ride. Kooks Custom Headers not only has off the shelf products for Ford, GM and Chrysler/Dodge, but also offers custom solutions made to order. Get Kookin’ with Kooks on their website at


LINE-X Protective Coatings:
This year LINE-X Protective Coatings showed us that their products are for more than just pick-ups and Stormchasers when they unveiled the 2013 Camaro coated in LINE-X Body Armour by West Coast Customs. This product sprays on in a thin layer, but offers the protection expected by a heavy protective coating. Learn more about Body Armour and other products from LINE-X at


Optima Batteries:
For 40 years Optima has been providing reliable battery power with their Spiralcell Technology. The applications for their products range from modern vehicles with lots of accessories; trucks, SUV’s and hotrods needing a strong burst of ignition power; and marine applications. It’s easy to figure out which battery is right for you by looking at their color-coded system, and you can check out their website if you’re still not sure which battery will charge up your ride. As a company their long history, and backing by parent company Johnson Controls, ensures they will continue to advance their product’s technology. Most recently they introduced a direct fit replacement battery for the Toyota Prius, introducing this product into a new faction of the automotive market. Whatever your needs check out their website at to find out what they can help you power up.


Original Parts Group
If old school muscle is for you then you need to check out Original Parts Group. Their extensive line includes replacement parts for Chevelle, El Camino/Malibu, Monte Carlo, Tempest/Lemans, Cutlass/442, Skylark, Cadillac, Riviera, Grand Prix, Catalina and Bonneville. They have interior and exterior parts, electrical, mechanical, or pretty much anything you may need…and if you want to make your life a little simpler you can even purchase a crate engine. Their customer service is always helpful, or you can go to their website for more info and “how to” videos. To learn more go to


Road Magnet:
Since 1907 Road Magnet’s parent company, the Kirk-Habicht Company, has been designing and manufacturing springs for all applications. The experience behind this company yields a product that not only can be used in a broad range of vehicles, but also can be used for a daily driver or the car you bring to the track. Adding to the options are about 20 standard color choices, whether you want to drop your ride or give it a lift. Another plus is that their warranty is not void if you do the install yourself. Road Magnet springs are manufactured in Baltimore, MD, and this manufacturer stands behind their product. If you want to know more go to the testimonials section of their website, or just start shopping at


This year at SEMA Sherwin-Williams’ booth featured some eye-catching projects coated with Sherwin-Williams paint products. On the second day of the show NASCAR legend Ray Evernham debuted his first auto design project the “ForPly.” This 1964 Plymouth Belvedere is street legal with a Dodge R5-P7, 750 HP race engine under the hood. The paint scheme includes a matte finish Radiant Red color throughout with Graphite racing stripes. The paint kit used for this project, the Planet Color Barrett-Jackson Restoration System, will get anyone working on their project car a professional finish for under $500. Watch out for the upcoming Barrett-Jackson auction in Scottsdale, AZ where this car will be auctioned off, the proceeds benefitting IGNITE, a facility for adults with Autism or Asperger Syndrome. To find out more about this great project and other builds using Sherwin-Williams’ coatings check out their website at


Street Scene Equipment:
If you are looking for some exterior styling accessories to give your ride that extra edge then Street Scene Equipment is the place to go. Their products can be used for projects involving all types of cars, trucks or SUV’s ranging from Ford to Chevy, Chrysler and beyond. Their products have been featured in countless build projects, and have won a number of awards. This year at SEMA they won a Special Recognition Award from Ford for Outstanding Achievement in Design. Their products were used in several projects featured at SEMA including the Linex/West Coast Customs Camaro build. Their team also worked alongside Chip Foose and LMC Truck on the WD-40/SEMA Cares 1953 Ford F100 build project. If you consider the end result of these two projects alone, there is no doubt that Street Scene Equipment offers the quality accessories you need to bring your ride to the next level. See more at


TMI Products Inc.
Who says classic car interiors can’t have a little luxury? Enter TMI products, makers of custom seats, door panels, headliners, and the like for Ford, Chevy and Volkswagen. The great thing about their custom seating in particular is that they generally use the factory seat frame and cover it with their custom designed seating with extra padding and lumbar support. They match the OE colors and the styles are in keeping with the original look for your car. Their products are also high quality, which will make a difference in how your interior weathers the long term wear and tear of regular use. Check out their website to see their 11 reasons to choose TMI for your new interior.
I have personally reupholstered the seating in my ’68 Camaro and I would pay any amount of money to never have to do that again! The pros make it look easy but don’t be fooled, it’s a lot of work. These seats eliminate all that work and bolt right into the factory provided bolts holes – ease and comfort all in one, it doesn’t get any better than that! See what they can put in your ride at


XPEL Paint Protection:
After putting in hours to get that paint job just right the last thing you want is to see chips once you get your ride on the road. XPEL has the solution, with a product line of films and protection kits to keep your car looking as fresh as the day it rolled out the paint booth. Their installations run the gamut, from old school roadsters like the one shown in the photo on the left, to a new Audi or Aston Martin. To find out how you can protect your ride check out their website at

SEMA 2012…Cars, Cars and More Cars

I made this first trip to SEMA with the mission of meeting new people, and learning about new products so I could share the information with the readers at But as I navigated the enormous showroom floor at the Las Vegas Convention Center I couldn’t help but constantly get sidetracked by all of the cars! Kind of like a kid in a candy store, only the candy was in the form of exotic, brightly colored, chromed out cars of all shapes and sizes. I captured what I saw along the way, and uploaded a special three part gallery so you all could take it in. Enjoy the flicks, and make sure you read on to catch the highlights of the 2012 SEMA show!