For gearheads and racing fans, spring has officially arrived. While the rest of the world awaits the season’s official arrival in another week, car aficionados got their engines revving early at the Motorama custom car show and motorsports expo in Toronto. The show has been an annual rite of spring for decades, although this marked its second year as a combined event for racing fans and participants, custom car enthusiasts and hot rodders. The new format is proving to be a hit, with the halls of Mississauga’s International Centre jammed with show-goers throughout the three-day run.
Of course, the cars are the prime stars, but numerous celebrities were on hand as well, including California custom car builder Gene Winfield, ZZ Top frontman Billy Gibbons and reality TV star Steve Darnell, as well as racing legends Bobby Allison, Junior Hanley and longtime promoter and former track owner Bob Slack.
Here are a just a few of the cool vehicles at this year’s show.
(Words by Clare Dear; pictures by Chris Dear and Clare Dear)
Chris Longhouse’s stunning blue 1930 Ford Model A hot rod is powered by a 1949 Cadillac engine fitted with ’55 Cadillac cylinder heads.
This immaculate 1956 Mercury Monterey custom was designed by owner John St. Germain.
Beautiful lines from any angle.
This Dodge Charger looked menacing with its all-black finish, orange-accented custom wheels and subtle custom touches, such as the exhaust outlets built into the rear quarter panels.
Pontiac GTOs epitomize the muscle car era, but this 1969 convertible is one of a kind. Its supercharged LS3 crate engine has been modified to crank out 730 horsepower, while the car rides on an Air Ride Technologies suspension system with 20-inch Boze custom wheels.
Wheels and brakes are major fashion items.
It may look like a factory original, but this 1951 Chevy COE truck’s quad cab was custom built. Tucked under the cab is a 5.9-litre Dodge Cummins diesel V-8 engine that’s been specially tuned to crank out 400 horsepower and 800 lb-ft of torque.
Here’s a gorgeous example of the 1950s era of big highway cruisers. It’s Ron Caicco’s 1956 Oldsmobile 88 hardtop – immaculate in every sense of the word.
Back in those days, a trunk was big enough to hold a trunk!
Chrysler introduced the Fargo truck line in 1936 and this made-in-Canada pickup is special because it features the Flying Lady hood ornament – the only year it was used. It took owner Danny Klacko more than a year to locate the part and it’s thought to be the only one still in existence in North America. Klacko completed the restoration of this unique 1936 Fargo last year.
This 1953 Chevy 3100 pickup stands out in the crowd of gleaming custom paint and polished chrome. Its body has a natural patina finish – a look that was found on several vehicles on the show floor.
While the exterior appears vintage, under the skin this pickup is thoroughly modern, with a modified 5.3-litre Chevy LS V-8 under the hood, aftermarket Wildwood disc brakes on all four wheels and an Air Lift air suspension system.
The 1932 Ford is a favourite among hot rod builders and Mike Wise’s brilliant yellow, all-steel-bodied coupe is a classic example. It features a new all-leather interior, a fresh 350 cubic-inch GM crate engine with electronic fuel injection pumping out 320 horsepower, and chrome everywhere.
This gorgeous hot rod was hand-built by owner Bill Denny. Aside from its spotless copper and black paint, it has some interesting features, including air suspension and unique door handles created from wrenches.
Door handles created from wrenches add a unique touch to this hand-built hot rod.
A grille from an old Edsel has found a new home on the nose of George Stouros’s Shadow Hunter custom pickup.
Not every vehicle at the show was spit-and-polish, but these old trucks have still received plenty of love from their owners – and earned lots of admiring looks from show visitors.
Shawn Fairbairn’s 1930 red Ford Model A roadster pickup is another classic hot rod, again created with an all-steel body. It does step away from the norm, however, by having a fully balanced Ford 302-cubic inch V-8 up front, rather than the small-block Chevy that’s typically found in these hot rods.
Show-goers were also able to feast their eyes on a wide variety of racing cars, and one of the fastest oval-track machines on display was this ISMA supermodifed, hand built by driver Mark Sammut and his dad, Tony. It’s powered by a fuel-injected big-block Chevrolet V-8 and features a fully-independent front suspension with horizontally-mounted inboard shock absorbers – a design that’s similar to Indy cars and a break from the conventional solid axle system.
Nissan’s compact Sentra gets a turbo boost and a big dose of sportiness
The Wrangler is not just a vehicle: it’s a lifestyle statement
The MKZ, introduced just last year, has been heavily revised for 2017