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A Conglomerate of Classics by South Beach

On too many drives down interstate 95 I passed by South Beach Classics, only giving the old schools in the lot a quick glance as I zoomed down the highway. During my latest trip I decided to take some time and make the stop so I could see what they have going on in there…and what I found was building after building filled with classic rides.
I didn’t get to meet the owner, who most probably know from their show on the Velocity channel, but I was greeted by a nice older gentleman who was holding down the showroom on this Saturday. I could tell everybody there has a passion for classic cars, and it shows through in the collection of some weird, some pristine, and some outlandish autos.
Take a look at the gallery below and see some of the inventory I got to check out while I was there:

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!

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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Standing Out at SEMA ’13


As I wandered through SEMA’s gigantic sea of cars, products and vendor booths one car stood out to me. Not because of how loud, bright or crazy it was but actually the opposite – it was so smooth and cool it immediately caught my eye. I have to start by saying I’m probably a little biased…green is my favorite color and I love Camaros, but still though, this is one nice ride.


The styling is very minimal, but there was a lot of attention to detail in order to make the lines sleek and simple. When you start looking closer you see that the quarter panels are flared to accept the wide race-ready tires. One look under the hood and you can see why there are some good tires on this ride…something needs to grip the pavement with an anniversary edition 427 L7 engine under the hood! The driver gets to handle all this power with a Keisler five-speed transmission and a 3-inch aluminum drive shaft.


Other modern touches include custom leather seats reminiscent of factory seats, but so much more comfortable (and probably a little safer too), and a digital dash designed to have a straight-off-the-assembly-line look. Every detail in this build was executed with the intent of creating a clean look with a stock feel, underscoring the beast of a machine this really is! Bodie Stroud designed and built this awesome ride for comedian and car lover Time Allen. I’m glad they shared it with the crowd at SEMA this year!

Duck Commander Truck Steals the Show

This year at SEMA LINE-X ushered in their new Truck Gear product line with the help of Mr. Duck Dynasty himself, Willie Robertson. To celebrate the release of Truck Gear LINE-X tricked out a 2014 Chevy Silverado 1500 with all the bells and whistles this line has to offer, while integrating everything “Duck Dynasty” possible! This limited edition Commander Series truck will be available to customers soon, but in the meantime Robertson will be taking this one back to Louisiana. This truck has lots of duck details, from the duck silhouette cut into the bed-mounted rack to the actual duck camouflage. If you like ducks, this is the ONLY truck for you!
But the Truck Gear line has something for anyone who wants to upfit and customize their truck. The line includes step bars, bull bars, and grill guards, as well as things for the interior like seat covers and mats. Truck Gear is just another way LINE-X is helping people make their trucks extra tough! Check it out HERE

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.