SEMA Show Event Preview: 2023 Battle of the Builders Presented by Mothers Polish

Compiled by SEMA News Editors

Since the SEMA Show's annual Battle of the Builders (BOTB) Presented by Mothers Polish debuted in 2014, the nationwide competition series has become one of the Show's most anticipated events. For 2023, the action will unfold throughout Show week, with cameras following along to document the journey for a TV program set to air in early 2024; visit for updates on TV airings.

While a panel of industry experts narrows down the selection of vehicles, it's the builders themselves who ultimately vote among each other to select the four class winners (4-Wheel Drive/Off-Road, Hot Rod/Hot Rod Truck, Sport-Compact/Import Performance/Luxury and Exotic, and Young Guns) as well as the overall winner. You can follow the progress during the Show at a press conference announcing the top 40 finalists at 1:30 p.m., Tuesday, October 31, and another announcing the top 12 at 1:30 p.m., Wednesday, November 1. What follows is a representative sampling of entrants we received for this year's competition. Due to space constraints, we're unable to publish every single entry received, but thanks to all who submitted their custom creations.


Romas Tamulevicius

'77 Datsun 280z 

Category: Sport-Compact/Import Performance/Luxury and Exotic 

From Lithuania comes this "fully built from a bare shell" 280z that's been given some 240z backdating with a G-nose from DCW Classic, ZG replica fender flares and swapped-in 240z taillights. A carbon-fiber rear spoiler reduces drag, and the custom hood venting adds some Euro flair. A built 3.1L stroker resides underhood with a fully custom intake and exhaust system. A five-speed transmission sends power to a Subaru R10 rearend, suspension duties are handled by BC coilovers, and Wilwood brakes slow it down. Inside, the custom center console sports Alcantara trim; Vintage Air provides climate control; and a Retrosound radio lends an OE look. Other full-on custom interior components include the bucket seats, door cards and steering wheel.


Casey Porter

'09 Lexus ISF 

Category: Sport-Compact/Import Performance/Luxury and Exotic 

Casey Porter promises "innovative products--carbon-fiber GT wing, harness bar, and new 2024 accessories," but the existing list of upgrades is already impressive. Under the hood, for starters, a 2UR-GSE 32-valve V8 runs a Lexus eight-speed transmission, and an X-Force cat-back system and Varex muffler handle the exhaust. Power turns a set of 20x9.5 front and 20x10.5 rear Heritage Hokkaido wheels, which are slowed by a custom brake setup that utilizes Brembo calipers and Baer cross-drilled rotors. A K-sport Airtech suspension features Viair dual compressors and Sikky swaybars. Seibon carbon-fiber components include the hood, fenders, trunk and roof spoiler, and a set of Viand LED headlights improve illumination. Inside, Status Racing GTX seats sport a custom blue and orange upholstery scheme with diamond stitchery, and Rockford Fosgate and Mark Levinson components provide premium audio.


Steven Anderson

'13 Mitsubishi Evolution X GSR 

Category: Sport-Compact/Import Performance/Luxury and Exotic 

Evos have long a been a tuner's platform of choice, and this fine specimen carries on the tradition. Under the hood, an AEM cold air intake, ETS intercooler, Blitz blowoff valve an NGK Iridium spark plugs help the 4B11T four-cylinder to churn out some 440 hp. A SPEC-D Tuning exhaust runs a 4-in. Tomei downpipe to expel spent gases. Power is transferred to a set of 18x11 Volk Racing ZE40 wheels, around which are wrapped 295/30R18 Toyo Proxes R888 tires. A Brembo brake kit featuring drilled and slotted rotors slows it down, and Eibach sway bars help to firm up the ride. The Varis widebody kit and Type 5 spoiler are coated with Lamborghini Ross Mars paint. Inside, NRG Innovations products include a quick-release steering wheel; a set of ProSport Evo gauges monitors underhood functions, and a custom audio system uses components from Sony, Hifonics and Infinity.


Omar Cabrera

'95 Nissan 240sx s14

Category: Sport-Compact/Import Performance/Luxury and Exotic

This Aventador Red second-gen 240 sports many interesting features, starting with the cross-engine-swapped Toyota VVTi 2JZ six-cylinder running a Driftmotion turbocharger within a fully tubbed and shaved engine bay. Backing the engine is a six-speed from a 370Z that utilizes a Collins Performance adapter and a Stage 3 clutch. From there, power is transferred via an Xcessive driveshaft to a set of 18x11 Rays Volk TE37 rims with a black/red Time Attack finish. The exterior sports a URAS wide-body kit that incorporates 55mm front and rear over-fenders and a URAS front splitter. Seibon carbon-fiber components include the hood and trunk lid; Ganador carbon-fiber side mirrors lend function and style; and Kouki LED lighting improves nighttime visibility.


Micah Faith Wolfe-Parsons

'93 AM General HMMWV 

Category: Hot Rod/Hot Rod Truck 

A Hummer rat rod? That very well might have been the goal with this build, and to that end, this ex-Marine has been dropped and its roof chopped 51/2 in. The custom wagon-style roof features a custom rear side scoop, and the scratch-built custom doors, in its builder's words, feature "aggressive body lines and have a progressive curved outward appearance." Beneath the sheetmetal, a chassis from a '12 Chevy Express 2WD van has been narrowed, shortened, and Z-framed front and rear. Between the frame rails you'll find a big-block Ford 472 that's backed by an E4OD four-speed and equipped with a set of Flowmaster FlowFX mufflers. Power turns a set of 20x9 U.S. Wheel Rat Rod rims that have been powdercoated in OD Green. Inside, the builder-fabbed dash and console incorporates a custom Kicker audio system.


Madison Alexander

'59 Chevrolet Impala

Category: Young Guns

"We stayed true to the '59s but added a few modifications," Madison Alexander notes. Among these were the removal of the rear bumper guards, adding a smooth one-piece roll pan, a front license-plate delete, and smoothened firewall, fenders and dash. Riding on a Roadster Shop chassis, the Chevy is powered by a Magnuson-supercharged LSA engine with a Holley Terminator X engine harness, a custom 3-in. exhaust and a set of Flowmaster mufflers. The engine is mated to a Tremec TR6060 transmission and, in turn, a Currie 9-in. rearend that spins a set of Schott wheels. An Air Ride suspension lifts and lowers it, and a set of Wilwood brakes brings the ride to a stop. Inside the all-custom interior, modern upgrades include Dakota Digital gauges, Vintage Air A/C, and Ron Francis wiring.


Charles D. Spencer

'69 Chevrolet C10

Category: Young Guns

A family project, "the build started when I was 14, and I finished it four years later with the help of my dad, grandpa and brothers," Charles Spencer explains. The hard work appears to have paid off with a clean exterior design that features extensive gapping and custom-flushed bodywork that's topped with a lustrous coating of Axalta Indigo Blue; custom tailgate hinges and latch add touches of style. Under the hood, in a matte-painted engine bay, a FAST-injected Chevy 350 runs a Billet Specialties serpentine system and a custom Flowmaster 50-series exhaust. The engine rides on a Ridetech suspension, and the C10 uses Wilwood discs to stop it. Outside, LED head- and taillights, turn signals and marker lights all improve night visibility. Inside the cab, Dakota Digital gauges and a Pioneer audio system lend function and form.


Andy Leach

'60 Buick Invicta Custom

Category: Hot Rod/Hot Rod Truck

A former Top 12 finalist at BOTB, Andy Leach brings a '60 Buick Invicta Custom, dubbed "X-60," to this year's Show--and it comes with serious credentials, having taken the Al Slonaker Memorial award earlier this year at the Grand National Roadster Show. A nine-year build, the Buick hosts a myriad of custom work, including a wedge-sectioned body, machined brass trim, and a one-off chassis with sculpted floors--"scratch-built everything," Leach explains. A supercharged 401 Nailhead motor rests under the hood, and a Bowler-prepped 480LE automatic sends power to custom nine-piece 19x9 front and 19x11 rear wheels shod with 255/40R19 front and 265/50R19 Pirelli tires. A one-off IRS suspension utilizes a four-link to locate the ride, and six-piston Baer brakes slow it down. The interior is, needless to say, all custom, "with machined trim to resemble what could have come from the factory."


Ciro Ciampi

'76 Toyota Corolla KE20 

Category: Sport-Compact/Import Performance/Luxury and Exotic

"British built and imported to SEMA for its first Show," Ciro Ciampi states, this right-hand drive Japan-market Toyota is not your usual JDM build platform. "It's a usable classic with retro styling," he says, courtesy of UK-based Petrolheadonism Partners, which spearheaded the build. Among the custom features are a set of one-off three-piece wheels from 6AD Forged, and an EBC brake kit slows it down. A fully built 4AGE engine is found under the hood, and the Corolla rides on a BC Racing coilover suspension. All of the Toyota's chrome exterior parts were swapped out for satin-finished carbon-fiber components, and the entire exterior has been treated to a coating of Lamborghini Pearl paint.

John Scott

John Scott Legate

'63 Ford Falcon Futura convertible

Category: Hot Rod/Hot Rod Truck

Relatively mild-looking on the outside, this Falcon's got a host of upgrades beneath the sheetmetal. The stock chassis was ditched in favor of a fully boxed, 2x3-in. tube frame that incorporates a TCI front suspension and a custom four-link rear. Between the frame rails, a Dart-built Ford V8 has been bored and stroked to displace 427 ci, and a Speedmaster intake, Comp hydraulic roller cam and FAST multi-port EFI all provide additional oomph. A Tremec five-speed required the addition of custom floor pans, and the narrowed Fab 9 rearend spins 4.10:1 gears. A Ride Tech air suspension covers ride and handling, and Wilwood disc brakes lend stoppage. Inside, the custom diamond-tufted interior sports a JL audio system with Bluetooth connectivity, Dakota Digital instrumentation, and everything's plumbed into a FAST ECU. Outside, the bodywork is covered in Matrix White base coat with Blue Pearl accenting.


Varinder Thandi

'18 Jeep Grand Cherokee

Category: Young Guns

The list of carbon-fiber components on this two-tone WK2 is long indeed, and it includes such elements as the hood, pillar overlays, mirror cap, rear reflectors, rock guards, and Jeep emblems and badging. A ZL1 Addons front splitter, Trackhawk diffuser and rear tailgate spoiler help to enhance aerodynamics. Under the hood, the engine bay sports Billet Technology dress-up components, an aFe carbon-fiber intake and a custom Borla Atak custom quad exhaust. Receiving that power are a quartet of Velgen Classic 5 wheels shod with 315/25R20 Nitto Motivo tires. Insider, more carbon-fiber accenting can be found, as well as custom white billet seat buttons and custom-stitched F1 mats with SRT embroidery.


Todd Budde

'73 Mazda pickup

Category: Hot Rod/Hot Rod Truck

Could this be the year an EV conversion makes the cut at BOTB? Considering that Todd Budde is a former Top 12 finalist, his '73 conversion makes an intriguing prospect. "This build features a custom all-aluminum chassis with two Tesla drive units making 1,000 all-wheel hp," he explains. "It's a complete battery and charging system from a Tesla Model Y, all controlled via an AEM300 VCU." All that power is managed by a modified C7 Corvette suspension system that utilizes pushrod-controlled Penske coilovers, and Jongbloed wheels and Toyo RS1 racing slicks provide maximum traction. A custom composite widebody kit highlights the exterior while a "race-inspired" interior aims to keep the build sophisticated yet functional.


Sean Thornhill

'15 Mitsubishi Lancer Evo

Category: Young Guns

For enhanced aesthetics and reduced vehicle weight, carbon fiber is the name of the game, and this Lancer Evo has its share, including the SK forged wheels, dash trim pieces and seamless air tank for the Air Lift performance suspension. The fully built engine runs a custom Sidewinder turbo kit, and all hardware and fasteners have been upgraded to titanium pieces. The valve cover, intakes and mounts have all been powdercoated, and the RK power-steering reservoir is another titanium component. Outside, a molded Varis widebody kit, hood wing and rear diffuser reduce aerodynamic drag, and beneath the bodywork, a full tubular suspension with adjustable control arms is in the works. Inside, Braum racing seats and Cusco six-point harnesses keep driver and passenger secure at the track.


Dalton O'Neal

'67 Oldsmobile Cutlass

Category: Young Guns

It may still be a rendering at this point, but Dalton O'Neal knows where he wants to go with it: "This '67 Cutlass is getting an LS swap with goodies and performance bits from Summit Racing and Holley Performance. I'm building this to take down Route 66, so it will be getting coilovers and a tubular suspension. I'll be painting this car Emerald Green with original Oldsmobile gold striping, and I'll be running custom 18-in. staggered wheels and a Black Widow exhaust. Interior features will include a custom center console, custom front and rear seating, a modern stereo, and the Olds will be equipped with A/C. This will provide all the comfort and performance of a modern ride with the timeless classic look of the '67 Cutlass."


Gage Bolden

'97 Ford Ranger

Category: Young Guns

OBS pickups from the '90s are fast becoming a builder's favorite, and this '97 Ranger looks to continue the trend. Beneath the sheetmetal is a full mandrel-bent tube chassis that incorporates a fully hydraulic suspension consisting of Mustang II front componentry and a parallel four-link rear that locates a Ford 8.8-in. rearend. A Ford 302 V8 is equipped with a Ford E303 cam, Trick Flow intake and BBK headers, and a mandrel-bent, ceramic-coated and billet-tipped custom exhaust uses a Flowmaster muffler. Twenty-two-inch Vossen wheels are halted by Wilwood discs. The body has been dropped, and shaved bodywork includes the door handles, wiper cowl and bedrails. Inside, components from Lokar, Dakota Digital and Vintage Air dress up the interior and increase functionality.


Thomas Johnson

'22 Ford F-150 SXT

Category: 4-Wheel Drive/Off-Road

Lifted trucks are ubiquitous at the SEMA Show, but cracking the Top 40 at BOTB is reserved for the elite few. Still, this high-profile F150 SXT looks to join the party in 2023. It should certainly stand out among its peers, thanks to its 12-in. Bulletproof suspension lift that incorporates Icon coilovers. With that much elevation, there's room in the wheelwells for a set of 40x15.50/24 RBP tires wrapped around 24x14 Forged wheels. LED Lighting from Baja Designs improves visibility in the dark, as do the XK Glow undercarriage and wheelwell lights. Front and rear Prerun- ner bumpers and Hammerhead armor lend exterior stoutness, and a Warn winch is ready for extractions. Inside, an sPod control module optimizes four-wheel power distribution.


Ubaldo Mora

'74 Nissan 260z

Category: Young Guns

"I set out to build something that hasn't been done in this configuration," Ubaldo Mora says of his Nissan. In this case, it starts with a custom removable full frame that incorporates Lexus SC300 subframes. The chassis accommodates a built LS3 engine sporting a custom intake, which in turn makes room for a Ford Cobra SVT supercharger. A custom build is a learning experience, and Mora taught himself welding and fabricating, paint and bodywork, CNC machining, and 3D modeling and printing during the build. The skills he's acquired have allowed him to fabricate numerous custom components such as the exhaust system, floor pan, rear firewall and all wiring. "The build has 1,355 hours into it," he concludes.


Andrew Dukeshire

'20 Toyota GT86

Category: Sport-Compact/Import Performance/Luxury and Exotic

Sporting a swapped-in 2JZ-GTE turbo I6, this GT86 has plenty of go along with the show. The engine has been treated to a Haltech custom tune and is supplemented by a Mishimoto 70mm intercooler and an Invidia N2 exhaust. Power is transferred to a Collins Stage 3-actuated Nissan CD009 six-speed manual and from there, via a custom driveshaft, to a set of WORK Wheel rims spinning Toyo R888R tires that in turn are halted by Yellow Speed Racing brakes. The Toyota rides on an Air Lift suspension that incorporates SPL control links and suspension arms. Outside, the GT boasts a full Varis widebody kit with carbon-fiber components, a 326POWER wing and BASF paint with clear coat. Inside, a full Arc Audio Black sound system and a JVC video-enabled screen deck provide infotainment.


Robert Zahabi

'70 Plymouth Barracuda

Category: Hot Rod/Hot Rod Truck

A former Grand National Roadster Show winner, Robert Zahabi brings his latest build to the U.S. from his home in Australia for the first time for the 2023 SEMA Show. The custom ground-up build has been a five-year labor of love, with all-custom bodywork and one-off PPG paint designed by Charley Hutton. Under the hood, in a hand-built engine compartment, a naturally aspirated engine is said to produce power in the 1,000hp range, and it's equipped with all-custom componentry including the intake and exhaust. The Plymouth rides on an air suspension that accommodates 22-in. rear wheels, and inside, the car features an all-steel painted interior. "It would be an honor to have it involved in BOTB," he concludes.


Glenn Robertt

'11 Audi R8 Spyder STaSIS Edition

Category: Sport-Compact/Import Performance/Luxury and Exotic

"Only a few of these were made in 2011," Glenn Robertt says of his STaSIS-supercharged 5.2L V-10 R8, which made its debut in September at the Las Vegas Auto Salon. It's tuned to produce 620 hp and it rides on an HK1 suspension that utilizes an HK1 suspension management system and custom-fit airbags. Michelin Pilot Sport tires, courtesy of WC Motoring, and a set of Savini rims comprise rolling stock. The exterior sports a custom fiberglass body kit to be painted in, Robertt says, "a rare color," with ceramic window tint applied by Capital Tint. Inside, carbon-fiber details have been formed and fitted to the interior panels and engine bay by Killa Carbon; Braum buckets provide a seating upgrade; and a sound system from Vegas Born Kustomz brings the volume.


Josh Croll

'02 Acura RSX Type S

Category: Sport-Compact/Import Performance/Luxury and Exotic

"The car was built from an absolute bare shell," Josh Croll says of his Acura. "Every single nut and bolt has been replaced or customized." A right-hand-drive conversion, this RSX hosts a slew of custom one-off bodywork, including a Japan-version roof swap, molded widebody quarter panels, widened steel fenders, and a shaved and tucked engine bay. The custom suspension was "completely rebuilt from the coilovers down to the wheel bearings and bushings," and the custom reworked engine produces an estimated 515 hp. Nut-and-bolt engine detailing included refinishing the block, head and trans housing with color-matched accents found on the radiator tanks, intercooler pipes and valve cover. Inside, integrated electric power steering optimizes handling, a Sony audio system lends sound support, and the tucked air conditioning and heater unit make for a clutter-free interior.


Mathew L. Wright

'20 Jeep Gladiator Mojave

Category: 4-Wheel Drive/Off-Road

If a Jeep is only as good as its suspension, then this Gladiator is very good indeed. The already capable JT multilink setup is complemented by EVO 4-in. springs and Fox remote-reservoir shocks. Rock Jock antisway bars and a Fox ATS steering stabilizer improve the ride, and with the added elevation, there's room for 39-in. BFG Mud-Terrains wrapped around 17-in. Method Race beadlocks. Big tires often require a gear swap, and 4.88:1 Yukons can be found in the Metal Cloak-covered diffs. Steering has likewise been upgraded by an Apex power steering setup, which utilizes a 2-ton Fusion drag link and tie rods. A Moto Build front bumper accommodates a Warn Zeon 12,000-lb. winch for extractions, and sliders from Rock Slide Engineering protect vulnerable rocker panels.


Ron Hinshaw

'33 Ford Victoria

Category: Hot Rod/Hot Rod Truck

"It's a old-school street rod look with many modern amenities," Ron Hinshaw says. It all starts beneath the fiberglass bodywork, where a thoroughly modern 525hp LS3 engine rests between the 'rails of a Pete and Jake's chassis. A PRC radiator provides cooling, and Sanderson headers and a Pypes 2.5-in. exhaust and mufflers aid with exhalation. The 4L60 transmission sends power to a Ford 9-in. rearend, and with all that power turning the wheels, "I plan to upgrade the brakes," he says. Inside the keyless-entry cab, components from Lokar, Vintage Air and Dakota Digital provide upgrades from stock, and the full custom interior by Knish Kustomz uses leather seating from Douglass Interior Products. Outside, the' glass bodywork was treated to a coating of PPG Pearl paint with custom flames.


James Miller

'51 Chevrolet 3100

Category: Hot Rod/Hot Rod Truck

"This is a true Pro Street truck with a twist," James Miller says to describe his Chevy truck, which has undergone a slew of custom bodywork. The roof has been chopped 3 in. and a custom rear spoiler has been added for looks and aerodynamics. Inside the custom engine bay, a 406ci Dart small-black V8 has been outfitted with AFR heads and an Edelbrock intake topped with twin 67mm turbos; a hand-fabricated exhaust system exits through the bed. Inside, the Chevy sports a custom console and gauges, along with a full rollcage. A custom two-tone paint scheme adorns the exterior.


Eliv Solis

'83 BMW E30 323

Category: Sport-Compact/Import Performance/Luxury and Exotic

"The car is currently undergoing big changes for SEMA this year," Eliv Solis notes of his Euro-spec E30, though a great deal of work has already been done. The swapped-in S54 3.2L donated by a later-model E46 was rated for 338 hp when in production, and for good measure it's topped by a single turbo. The 323 rides on a full Air Lift suspension and rolls on custom Bugatti rims. Inside, plans are for bespoke Rolls-Royce Carmel leather seats with plaid centers, and a full repaint is in the works. Rare Euro-spec parts are installed throughout since "we never got these in the States." In closing, Solis makes his case to join the fun in Vegas: "As happy that I am of being able to get the opportunity to take a car to SEMA this year, I would really love to show the world what I can build. I'm not a huge company or anyone special--just a 24-year-old Mexican kid with the heart to build cars."


Kyle Hogue

'30 Ford Model A coupe

Category: Hot Rod/Hot Rod Truck

"Lo-Blo," Kyle Hogue explains, "is a car I've been building in my head for years. I started with a '30 Model A coupe body and 1929 frame rails and just started going for it." Starting with the foundation, the frame was boxed and plated, front to rear, and sealed air-tight "because it's also the air tank for the air suspension." The Ford's roof has been chopped 8 in., and the body has been channeled over the frame and treated to custom paint, pinstriping and silver leaf accents. Powering the Ford is a 480ci Chevy big-block that's backed by a TH 400 transmission. The Ford 9-in. rearend is located by a custom triangulated four-link suspension, and a custom front suspension setup aids ride and handling. "I built the car from start to finish in just under five months," Hogue says, "and I drive it every day."


Jose Flores

'09 Nissan GTR

Category: Sport-Compact/Import Performance/Luxury and Exotic

Whether on the street or at the track, this Nissan's Motul GT3 vinyl wrap is bound to attract attention wherever it goes. Under the hood, the 3.8L V6 is topped with a Boost Logic intake and is fed by 1,100cc injectors from Injector Dynamics. A Visconti flex-fuel kit allows the engine to run on E85, and a Legamax exhaust with 3-in. HKS downpipes handle exhaust duties. A GR6/Drag8800 transmission from Jack's Transmission backs the engine and sends power to 20x11.5 front and 20x12.5 rear Savini forged three-piece rims that sport a set of Falken tires. The Nissan rides on an Air Lift 3P suspension that utilizes Bilstein adjustable struts, a seamless 5-gal. chrome tank and a pair of Viair 440 chromed compressors.


Russell and Cavan Cameron

'73 Pontiac Firebird TransAm

Category: Hot Rod/Hot Rod Truck

"This is a father-son project that originally started as a high school internship," the Camerons say of their race-ready TransAm. How race-ready? For starters, the Pontiac's OE ladder frame has been swapped out for a full tube chassis that houses a mega-built Late Model Engines LSR that produces some 2,000 hp at 9,000 rpm with the aid of a rear-mounted Garret turbocharger. The engine is backed by an Xtrac six-speed transmission that's actuated by Motec paddle shifters. An '01 Reynard race suspension that incorporates Hyperco springs found its way into the build, as have 15x10 front and 15x14 rear BBS forged mag wheels and a set of Avon racing tires. Exterior mods include an 84-in.-wide rear wing, flat bottom, and a "massive" front splitter and rear diffuser. Inside, the build sports components from Momo and Impact Racing. The Camerons write: "This build is by an ex-Indy car chief mechanic and his son, who is a Motorsport Engineering major," which might help explain the car's estimated top speed of 180 mph.


Robert Brown

'67 Plymouth GTX

Category: Hot Rod/Hot Rod Truck

Robert Brown turned to a '60s SCCA rule book when building this GTX, which was still a humble Belvedere when it first rolled off the assembly line. Under the hood, a 650hp 440 Mopar is fed by a Holley Sniper TBI system, and it's backed by a Tremec five-speed TKO transmission. Power flows to a Moser 9-in. rearend, and it's harnessed by Wilwood discs. Seventeen-inch wheels from Vintage Wheels US are wrapped in a set of Firestone tires, and a custom coilover suspension locates the ride. The body has been widened, and builder-fabbed front and rear spoilers enhance aerodynamics. Inside, Corbeau seats keep occupants comfortable and a 12-point rollcage provides protection.

John M

John McKeehan

'23 Jeep Gladiator

Category: 4-Wheel Drive/Off-Road

"I wanted a full-size Jeep pickup truck, but Jeep doesn't make one, so I built my own, at home in my garage," John McKeehan says. That meant starting with a Ram 2500 chassis and a 6.7L Cummins diesel that's backed by the OE transmission and transfer case. Running gear for "Tonka" is stout indeed: AAM 9.25-in. axles geared with 5:13:1s, armed with ARB Air Lockers, and turning 43-in. Mickey Thompson Baja Pro XS tires. Suspension duties are handled by Fabtech links in front, 7-in. coils in the rear, and King bypass shocks at all corners. Much custom exterior work went into the build, including stretched doors and unique power bedsides that can be configured to allow extra storage space. Dual Warn winches are available for trail rescues, and a Powertank provides a source of onboard air.


Ryan Dyer

'53 Ford F100

Category: Young Guns

If this lime-green F-series doesn't make a strong first impression, take a peek under the hood. There, sitting fore of a smoothed firewall, you'll find a Texas Speed-turbocharged 427 that's fed by an Aeromotive fuel cell and assisted by a custom air-to-water intercooler system. A custom Borla exhaust expels spent gases. The Ford rides on a front suspension that was donated by a Ford Crown Vic and a four-link rear that incorporates Ridetech coilovers. Custom exterior modifications abound, including a custom air scoop and front roll pan, custom bed and taillights, custom inner fenders and smoothened running boards and hidden latches. Drip rails and vents have been deleted, and the front clip now features a tilt nose and a' 541/2 Ford grille. All bodywork has been either Cerakoted and/or coated in Tri-Stage custom paint. Inside, a TMI one-off interior features a smoothened push-style glovebox and Vintage Air climate control.


Cody Walls

'49 Buick Super Sedanette

Category: Hot Rod/Hot Rod Truck

"What if GM built a fastback version of the Buick Y-job in 1949?" Cody Walls asks, and this concept '49 answers the question. The Custom D'Elegance winner at this year's Sacramento Autorama, this award-winning Buick's body has been sectioned 2 in., chopped 1 in. and the roof was likewise pancaked 1 in. The quarter panels and fenders were reshaped, door handles shaved, bumpers tucked and smoothened, and headlights relocated (they're behind the grille now). An Eric Black-designed bespoke interior features custom stitchery from MikeySeats; chrome work was applied by Ogden Chrome; and the Buick's paint was handled by Walls in concert with Richard and Brandon Glymph. Powering the Buick is a reworked 401 Nailhead V8, and an AirRide suspension helps the Sedanette cruise the boulevard 15 in. lower than stock.


Kevin Emr

'68 Chevrolet Camaro

Category: Hot Rod/Hot Rod Truck

Kevin Emr, co-founder of E-Musclecars, submits his '68 Camaro conversion for consideration. While it's a rolling platform of the latest EV technology, his intent is to make it as invisible to the eye as possible. "The goal is to build vehicles that resemble concourse-classic cars with absolutely no signs that they are powered by the best modern electric motors available," he says on his company website. To that end, he's outfitted his Camaro with an E-Musclecars battery system, motor subframe and EV wiring components. ReVolt Systems supplied the electric motor, while Flaming River steering products point the Chevy in the right direction. Suspension componentry comes courtesy of Heidts and QA1, and Currie Enterprises contributed drivetrain parts.


Aldo Rivera

'03 Lexus IS

Category: Young Guns

Most folks don't associate Lexus as a race-oriented performance brand, but that didn't stop Aldo Rivera from building a high-performance IS. Under the hood, the 3.0L Six has been fortified with Manley connecting rods, Wiseco GTE pistons, ACL race bearings, a swapped-in GTE head with ARP head studs, GTE gaskets and a Fluidampr harmonic balancer. A Toyota W58 transmission sends power to a set of one-off Precision Forged wheels, which are located by an Air Lift suspension that utilizes Mookeh billet aluminum top plates and control arms from Godspeed Racing and Megan Racing. Outside, the Lexus sports a Monster Service wide body kit along with Altezza head-, tail- and fog lights and a Midnight Purple wrap. "It would be such an honor to attend such an event in the Lexus," Rivera concludes.


William Robert Rowley

'67 GMC C1500

Category: Hot Rod/Hot Rod Truck

It may look like a mid-'60s square body from the outside, but beneath the sheetmetal lies the under- pinnings of a post-Millennial pickup. Riding on an '03 2500HD chassis, the GMC is powered by Duramax 6.6L diesel that's been equipped with Carrillo connecting rods and BTW Racing pistons, head studs and main studs. A SoCal Diesel AF camshaft engages the valves, and an Exegy 14mm CP3 injection pump and 150%-over injectors are rated to support up to 1,200 hp. Feeding the Duramax is a BTW Racing 69mm turbo kit, and a 3-in. charge pipe carries fuel to the engine. Also underhood is a nitrous kit that's used "as needed," William Robert Rowley says. The transmission was beefed up "with some valve body and pump work" and an FTI Performance torque converter. Power flows to 24x14 wheels and 305/35R24 tires. Inside the cab, "it's a full '03, with cruise control, power steering and all the amenities of an '03 truck."


Dan Wickett

'58 Chevrolet "El Cameo"

Category: Hot Rod/Hot Rod Truck

"Chevrolet did not design or build this model," Dan Wickett explains. A '56 panel truck in its original incarnation, the '58 is now a one-of-a-kind unibody (El Camino-style) pickup truck that melds a seamless cab and bed into its design. Penned by Dave Kindig, this 2023 Detroit Ridler Great 8 finalist rides on a modified Art Morrison chassis and runs a 348ci Chevy V8 that's been bored and stroked by Dixie Dyno to displace 443 cu. in. Holley EFI feeds the engine, and a custom exhaust incorporates Hedman headers and 3-in. polished tips. Power flows from a Tremec TR3550 five-speed to a Strange 9-in. rear, and outward to 19x10.5 Billet Specialties wheels shod with 285/35R19 Pirelli P-Zeros. Outside, custom exterior work abounds, with bumpers, front fenders, headlight bezels and 3D-printed running lights all bespoke parts. The custom bed sides and door sides required fabricating new stamping dies to execute, and the bodywork has been painted in PPG Black and custom Copper.


Tracy Miller

'20 Ford Shelby GT500

Category: Sport Compact/Import Performance/Luxury and Exotic

Some might say a Shelby GT is stoutly engineered as is, but Tracy Miller still sees room for improvement. Starting under the hood, the 760hp supercharged 5.0L has been given additional boost in the form of a K&N cold-air intake, a set of Kooks headers and a Corsa exhaust system. All that power is sent to a set of Project 6GR 10-TEN GT500 rims sporting a custom diamond silver and red barrel finish. Outside, carbon-fiber components from Anderson Composites and MPR Carbon can be seen adorning the hood, bumpers, doors, front splitter and rear wing, and lighting from Opt7 and SW Lighting optimizes visibility at night. Inside, a Blackvue dash cam features Cloud connectivity, and a Studio RSR roll cage and Sparco race harnesses provide added measures of safety at the track.


Logan Adkins

'65 Ford F100

Category: Young Guns

Former Goolsby Customs winner Logan Adkins sums up his entry: "After competing at BOTB in 2022, I knew I had to do all I could to return in 2023. The '65 F100 above is truly a wild and one-off build showcasing tons of metal work and design. The truck sits on a custom chassis, including an adjustable four-link, air suspension, a shortened axle for a wide tire stance, and the ability to lay frame. More than 1,000 ft. of diamond-stitched bead rolling is laid throughout the bed and engine bay, making up hundreds of hours of work. As a Young Gun, I wanted to build something that could display my skill set as well as a keen eye for detail and design. The truck is also equipped with tilting bed panels, custom shaved bumpers, a shaved firewall, TMI interior, 6.0L LS motor and so much more."


Sam Morris

'16 BMW Z4 GT3

Category: Sport Compact/Import Performance/Luxury & Exotic

"We took a BMW Z4 GT3 track car and turned it into a nasty street car," Sam Morris explains of his ground-up build, though a peek under the hood suggests that the Bimmer would still be right at home on the quarter-mile. Nestled in the engine bay is a Mercedes M120 V12 that's topped with a Procharger supercharger that in turn has been outfitted with a custom Crankdrive gear drive unit. Haltech provides engine management, and a Radium fuel system provides the go-juice. An HGT sequential transmission sends power to center-lug machined Fifteen 52 wheels, which are halted by a set of Wilwood brakes. The exterior has been completely reworked, with bodywork smoothed and wearing Mer- cedes Petronas F1 livery, "to take a jab at this Mercedes/BMW union." The interior has been kept largely track-oriented, though A/C has been added for comfort on hot days.


Kyle Meziere

'53 Willys M38A1

Category: 4-Wheel Drive/Off-Road

In Kyle Meziere's own words, "The heart of this build is an all-electric powertrain. This is a classic '53 military M38A1 Willys Jeep with a state-of-the-art 280hp electric powertrain. The Jeep still has serious off-road chops with custom Dana 44 axles front and rear delivering the torque to the ground. Speaking of torque, the build has tons of it. With a 24:1 overall drive ratio, the torque at the wheels should be well over 7,000 lb.-ft. The Jeep is all-wheel drive with a center limited-slip differential and a rear selectable air locker. A TIG-welded roll cage completes the rugged theme of the car. The goal was to create a car everyone could love—classic historical elements complimented with high-voltage tech."


Ryno Lieberman

'98 Land Rover Discovery 1

Category: 4-Wheel Drive/Off-Road

"The plan," Ryno Lieberman explains, "is to use this build for a 'Rally to SEMA' event where we'll be traveling all off-road via the Trans-America Trail and camping/overlanding our way from Missouri to Vegas." Discoveries make a good platform for an overlander, and with Eaton TrueTracs in each differential, forward progress in the backcountry should be steady. The LR's chassis has been fully rebuilt and powdercoated, as has the drivetrain, and "lots" of Heise LED lights will improve visibility at night. Inside, mounted to custom gullwing-style rear side windows, a Redarc power management system and solar panel setup provide extra juice to power accessories via onboard power ports. A refrigerator from Snomaster keeps perishables from spoiling, and a Quickpitch shower enclosure adds a measure of privacy. A rooftop tent and awning should provide comfortable accommodations for the westward drive from the Show-Me State to the Las Vegas Convention Center (LVCC).


Christopher Malloy

'91 Nissan Pao

Category: Sport Compact/Import Performance/Luxury & Exotic

Originally built "as a marketing campaign," Christopher Malloy says, the retro-fashioned, right-hand-drive Pike car is a relatively rare rig; only 30,000 were ever produced for the Asian market from' 89-'91. The Nissan won't win any awards on the dyno--the 1,000cc four-cylinder was rated at 54 hp straight from the factory--but what it lacks in power, it makes up for in style, starting with the custom VTO 14-in. wheels shod with 195/50R15 BFG G-Force Comp 2 tires. The Pao's retro-themed exterior was restored "with respect for old JDM standards," Malloy says, with the addition of woodgrain bodyside decal work recalling the SoCal surfer wagons of old, and the custom carbon-fiber roof-mounted surfboard coming courtesy of The Carbon Lab. Aftermarket fog lights provide an assist on hazy mornings, and the refurbished interior has been upgraded to incorporate Bluetooth compatibility.


Kyle Grove

'71 Chevy Nova

Category: Young Guns

"I bought this back in 2020," Kyle Grove explains of his Nova, which captured the Next Generation Award at the 2023 Goodguys Pacific Northwest Nationals. "It was originally a straight-six automatic car, but now it's an aluminum-block 5.3L twin-turbo V8" backed by a Tremec 6060 six-speed; the setup is said to be capable of producing 600 hp. Much custom work can be found at the rear of the Chevy, with a swapped-in Ford IRS setup that was scavenged from a Lincoln Mark VIII: "With this car being a unibody, I had to make my own rear subframe to mount the IRS," Grove adds. Braking duties are handled by a set of 14-in. six-piston front and 13-in. four-piston rear Wilwood discs. The Nova's interior has been upgraded with a Dakota Digital dash, Vintage Air climate control, Procar seats and a center console donated by a Chevy Chevelle.


Alfredo Rios

'70 Chevrolet C10

Category: Hot Rod/Hot Rod Truck

Chevrolet C10's have been a favorite platform of truck builders in recent years, and this '70 build looks to be equally a home on the street as on the track. Stating beneath the hood, resting within a TCI Pro Touring chassis, is a Gen 4 LS engine that is supplemented by a Precision PR 7675 turbocharger, internals from Texas Speed and engine work from Snail House Tuning. A Holley Terminator X Max provides a tune, and an Aeromotive stealth pump provides the fuel. Power spins a set of 18-in. Forgeline AL-307 wheels that are stopped by 14-in. Wilwood brakes. The Chevy rides on a set of Ridetech coilovers, and the body has been coated with Glasurit Ecua- dor Blue paint. Inside, the brown leather-appointed cab is cooled by Restomod Air, which utilizes Bluetooth via a Restomod switch.


Noah Schieve

'72 Ford Bronco

Category: Young Guns

Kustom Built Cars is a Grand Junction-based hot rod/restomod shop that includes educational programs for aspiring builders as part of its business model, and Noah Schieve's '72 Ford Bronco build is a result of the program. Power is generated by a 5.0L Coyote engine that's paired with a 6R80E automatic transmission to send motive power to a custom Ford 9-in. rearend that turns a set of 20-in. chrome wheels. A Wilwood big brake slows the ride as needed. The Space White Bronco sports chrome accents, smoked glass and power one-piece windows, and inside the red leather custom interior, Dakota Digital gauges monitor underhood vitals. Restomod Air controls the climate, and a Retro Manufacturing audio system brings the beats.


Dillon LaDuke

'78 Chevrolet Nova coupe

Category: Young Guns

"I originally bought my '78 Nova when I was 13," Dillon LaDuke explains, "and the build took six years to complete." It certainly looks ready for the track, with a ZZ 502 V8 lurking under the hood with ported and polished heads, an Edelbrock Pro 4 EFI system providing injection, and a custom 3-in. side-exit exhaust completing the aspiration. A Tremec TKO 600 five-speed sends power to a Ford 9-in. rearend and a set of Forgeline wheels that are equipped with Wilwood brakes. A Speedtech suspension system controls jounce and rebound. Extensive exterior modifications include cut and tucked bumpers, a custom rear splitter and spoiler, and a set of '69 Camaro taillights. Inside the custom cab, Speedhut gauges and a Billet Specialties steering wheel can be found, and a custom rollcage affords an added measure of safety.

Kyle K

Kyle Kocieniewski

'62 Datsun NL320

Category: Hot Rod/Hot Rod Truck

NL320 pickups are about as rare as they come; only some 1,200 units were ever imported to the States in the '60s. "I found this truck rotting away in Pennsylvania farmland," Kyle Kocieniewski explains, adding that "it was originally built as an advertising vehicle for a local tire company, and it hadn't been on the road since 1978." He began the truck's transformation by cutting off the torsion key suspension to install a straight axle. Plans for the build are for a 5.3 LS engine mated to a TH350 with reverse manual valve body and a Ford 9-in. rearend. For the exterior, "I plan to keep the patina since the pinstriping is still there," Kocieniewski notes. "I've not seen many Datsun gassers, let alone one that is pre-'65," he concludes, adding "I grew up surrounded by hot rods but fell in love with JDM as I grew older. This build combines traditional American hot rodding and a JDM classic."


Walter Chiu

'17 Nissan GTR

Category: Sport Compact/Import Performance/Luxury & Exotic

This bright-red GTR sport a full LB-Works Type 2 widebody kit with carbon-fiber components that include the front bumper and canard, side diffuser and side skirts, rear bumper and diffuser and rear wing. A pair of Valenti Jewel V headlights enhances visibility. The Nissan rides on an Air Lift Performance 3H suspension incorporating dual Viair 444 compressors, custom piping, 3/8-in. lines and a 5-gal. air tank installed in the trunk. The GTR's six-cylinder engine sports a Cobb Tuning intake, upgraded injectors and a flex-fuel conversion kit that allows it to run E85. A full Armytrix exhaust utilizes a 90mm down pipe, a Valvetronic muffler and carbon-fiber exhaust tips. Rohana RFG3 forged wheels with carbon-fiber barrels and custom paint comprise rolling stock.


Brax Youd

'66 International Scout

Category: Young Guns

"The only word to describe my '66 Scout," Brax Youd says of his build, "is 'custom.' I have modified, reinvented, or invented every part of this car--from the one-off CNC-machined door hinges to the one-off billet throttle body adapter, every piece has been purpose-built for this custom application." Sporting a stretched wheelbase, the Scout is powered by a zero-mile 7.3L Godzilla engine, which sends power through built Dana 44 axles to a set of Raceline wheels mounted with 35-in. tires. The truck rides on a custom four-link suspension that incorporates 12-in.-travel coilovers, hydraulic bump stops and off-road sway bars. Inside, Youd promises that "the entire leather interior will match the custom paint job and showcase some amazing new technology in vehicle management and data display."


Anthony Robertson

'84 Chevrolet Monte Carlo SS

Category: Hot Rod/Hot Rod Truck 

Anthony Robertson calls his '84 G-body "the ultimate sleeper," and given what lurks beneath the sheetmetal, he's not exaggerating. His very first car--he purchased it in the 10th grade, in 1987--it had lain dormant for some 20 years prior to the transformation. The catalyst in this case was a totaled '23 Camaro ZL1, which donated its chassis, powertrain, drivetrain, interior and, basically, everything else. Grafting the Monte Carlo body onto the Camaro frame took a bit of trial and error, but with nearly identical wheelbases, the G-body was successfully secured using custom bracketry and one-off fender flares (left unpainted to provide a rat rod appearance), which were fabbed up to account for the Monte Carlo's narrower width and the presence of oversized wheels and tires. All componentry from the Camaro has been reinstalled in its proper factory positions, including the trunk-mounted battery, rear backup camera and side airbags inside the G-body door skins.


Terry Payne

'22 Ram TRX Redeye

Category: 4-Wheel Drive/Off-Road

Ram TRXs sport plenty of power straight from the factory, but this specimen is in a league of its own. Under the hood, a tuned Redeye Stage 1 motor runs 1050 injectors, a Hellcat upper pulley and a Gibson exhaust, all of which are said to be good for some 900 hp. A 1.75-in. leveling kits affords room in the wheelwells for a set of 20x10 Arkon Off-Road wheels and 35x12.50 RBP tires. Exterior upgrades include a Bed Armor bed mat, AMP Research side steps, a Mountain Top USA bed cover and lighting from Baja Design and XK Glow. Inside, Roadwire leather seating offers creature comforts, and an Alpine Concert stereo system delivers pristine audio.


Shon Nguyen

'17 Lexus RC

Category: Sport Compact/Import Performance/Luxury & Exotic

"The aftermarket options for the Lexus RC platform are scarce," Shon Nguyen admits, "which open doors to creating custom one-of-one parts, and it makes building my car more enjoyable." Some of those bespoke parts include the duckbill trunk and rear bash bar, as well as a custom carbon-fiber steering wheel and interior trim pieces. Titanium fasteners and JDM: Password carbon-fiber engine bay covers can found under the hood, where the 3.5L engine is assisted by an Injen cold-air intake and an HPS intercooler charge pipe. The Lexus rides on an AirLift 3P "grocery bagged" suspension, and it rolls on a set of three-piece Work Meister S1 rims that are halted by a T-Demand big-brake kit. Aimgain body components include the front lip, fenders, side skirts, and carbon-fiber rear diffuser, and the car is coated in Inozetek Midnight Green paint.

Rob H

Rob Hester

'22 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 "KR2"

Category: 4-Wheel Drive/Off-Road

The aim behind Rob Hester's "KR2" Silverado conversion, he says, was to include "all of the things we loved about the K5 Blazer but in a modern, more capable package," and the build looks as though it has achieved its desired objectives. Start with the Dirt King long-travel suspension and combine it with a shortened wheelbase and 37-in. tires, and you've got a Chevy that should be at home on an old-school Jeep trail. The Chevy also sports a 6-in.-wider stance, along with custom carbon-fiber front and rear fenders and bedsides courtesy of Fiberwerx that have been seamlessly formed into the existing bodywork. Looking toward the back, the removable carbon-fiber roof from Sankauer Composite Technologies reveals a rear seating area, and the truck's bodywork has been coated in lustrous Glacier Blue Metallic paint.


Clay Thomas Kirksey

'66 Chevrolet C10

Category: Hot Rod/Hot Rod Truck

Sporting its "natural patina," in Clay Thomas Kirksey's words, this classic C10 looks for an invite to BOTB with a fire-breathing powertrain. Sitting in front of a custom firewall, the LS2 aluminum block sports a Brain Tooley Racing Stage 3 cam and spring kit, LS7 rollers, TSP hardened pushrods, and Comp Cams gold 1.72 rockers. A custom Holley 92mm high-ram intake utilizes Holley fuel rails, and a custom exhaust features long-tube headers and X-tubes that exit both side of the truck via baffled boom tubes. The engine mates to a TR6060 Tremec transmission sourced from a Cadillac CSV, and power is transferred to a Yukon-geared rear axle fortified with a limited-slip to a set of Detroit Steel wheels. Suspension components are from Classic Performance Products, as are the sway bars, disc brakes and power steering. Inside, Cobra bucket seats have found a home along with a one-off dash and center console.

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