Despite winter’s chill outside, gearheads and racing fans know spring is arriving soon when the doors open to the annual Motorama custom car show and motorsports expo in Toronto.
Text and photos by Clare Dear
Held in Mississauga’s International Centre, the car show was an annual rite of spring for decades. Then, three years ago, the customs and hot rods were combined with the motorsports segment, creating a new format that is scoring well with enthusiasts. Last year, more than 30,000 enthusiasts attended the three-day event and organizers are anticipating this year’s edition, presented by Mothers (which makes premium quality cleaners, waxes and polishes) will surpass that total.
More than 400 vehicles were spread out in the multiple halls of the International Centre this year. In Hall 4, for example, 30,000 square feet of display space was dedicated exclusively to the tuner community, featuring all the sights and sounds associated with that lifestyle. Elsewhere, the show floor was jammed with all sorts of motorsports machines, from NASCAR Pinty’s Series race cars to massive, multi-engine pulling tractors.
Of course, custom cars with gleaming chrome and amazing paint jobs were there in force, as well. If you like machines that look good and go fast, whether they have two wheels or four, you were bound to find several examples to lust after and admire. Some entries were wonderful, a few were downright wacky, but all represented hundreds of hours of love and effort to create.
If the cars weren’t enough, there about 150 vendors who set up shop at the show, offering everything from race wear and safety equipment to speed equipment and diecast models of your dream machines.
Several celebrities were also in attendance at this year’s show, including Linda Vaughn, the “First Lady of Motorsports;” Las Vegas car builder and TV star Steve Darnell; Dave Lefler, who also stars on Darnell’s TV show, Vegas Rat Rods; Jessi Combs, whose TV credits include Mythbusters and Overhaulin’; Dan Woods from the TV shows Chop, Cut Rebuild and the Degrassi, and vintage pinup model Cherry Dollface, plus numerous racing drivers from local, regional and national series.
Here are a few of the vehicles – some wonderful, some weird – that were displayed at this year’s show.
This 1954 Chevy pickup, named “Gypsy,” is powered by a 6.0-litre GM LSX V-8 crate engine and is destined to work and serve patrons at the Deerfield Stables Country Inn in Caledon, ON.
“No Mercy” is an all-steel, Viper Red 1936 Ford three-window coupe with a 427-cubic-inch Chevy V-8 topped by a 671 supercharger, with a GM Turbo 400 transmission feeding a nine-inch Ford rear end. The interior is finished in rich Italian leather. Owned by Enzo Covello of Bolton, ON, the panel of show judges named this immaculate custom the 2017 Motorama Grand Champion.
Here’s another take on the Ford three-window coupe, this one based on a 1932 model co-owned by Chantal Lafleur and Daniel Guillemette of Laval, Que. It’s powered by a 350-cubic-inch Chevy V-8 that’s been modified to produce 410 horsepower.
This heavily modified 1960 Corvette from North Bay, named the Voo Doo Op’s Vette, was created as a tribute to the men and women of Canada’s armed forces. The theme of the car is the 1960s Voo Doo CF-101 fighter jet, which owner Al McDonald’s father flew during the ‘60s and 70s.
Shirley Mailloux poses beside this completely restored 1956 Ford Thunderbird co-owned with her husband Kenneth. The Comber, ON., couple has received 53 awards for their pristine T-bird since its restoration in 2011.
“Sun King” is an amazing array of glittering chrome and gleaming paint, transforming this 1951 Chevy Belair into a rolling masterpiece of automotive art.
This mildly-customized 1954 Skyliner hardtop is a Meteor, the Canadian model line Ford marketed during that era. A unique feature of this car, aside from the plexiglass roof, is the original 1954 McCulloch supercharger feeding its 292-cubic-inch V-8 engine. Among the subtle custom touches are its distinctive headlights, chrome sidepipes and an interior borrowed from a 1966 T-bird.
The shell of this battered 1959 Chevy Apache pickup, owned by Mike Livia of Aurora, ON., hides some serious mechanical upgrades underneath, including a Corvette LS1 V-8 engine, Mustang front suspension and a custom four-link rear end. Inside, the cab is finished in custom leather. The rig rides on an Airlift air management system and 20-inch tires and rims.
The screaming yellow “Rubber Ducky” street rod is based on a 1934 Ford Cabriolet. It’s powered by a stroked 347-cubic-inch Ford V-8 fed by a GT40 fuel injection intake system that produces 430 horsepower – with a 50-horsepower boost from a nitrous oxide system available when needed.
This glittering “organic green” 1923 T-Bucket, dubbed “That’s It,” features a supercharged 7.4-litre Chevy V-8 that cranks out 850 horsepower. It’s joined on the stand by a custom cycle, also finished in the same paint scheme.
This creation is dubbed “Trouble Maker” and with its trio of heavily modified 540-cubic-inch Chevrolet engines, it’s certainly capable of living up to its name as it competes on the Ontario Truck and Tractor Pulling Association circuit.
With 700-plus horsepower on tap, this 1966 Chevy Impala wagon can certainly get to the beach in a hurry. While the paint job is original (and somewhat tired), no expense has been spared on the powertrain, starting with the destroked 454-cubic-inch V-8 engine and 671 supercharger.
Accomplished Canadian racer Richard Spenard drove this 1989 Chevy IROC Camaro to five victories in the 10-race GM/Player’s Challenge Series that year. This piece of Canadian motorsports history has undergone a complete restoration.
The “Steampunk” rat bike certainly qualifies as unique. Its truss frame is like no other in the cycle world – and its other numerous features, such as the Canadian Club whisky bottles with LED lights that have been transformed into turn signal indicators, definitely make it one of a kind.
The patina finish on this 1954 GMC 9100 truck is “good enough.”
The roof of this 1970 Dodge Charger has been chopped three inches and a three-inch section has been taken out of the body to create this custom machine. A 730-horsepower Dodge R5 NASCAR V-8 fills the engine bay.
Detroit hot rod builder and drag racer Al Bergler combined a front-engined rail dragster with the body of an Austin Bantam to create “More Aggravation,” which not only won the first prestigious Ridler Award as the most outstanding car at the 1964 Detroit Autorama, but also proved to be as fast as it looks. In three seasons of NHRA competition (1964-66), Bergler set six national records – the best was 184 mph in 8:10 seconds – and won the 1966 Springnationals Super Eliminator title with this car. He also finished the ’66 season as runner-up in the NHRA world championship. The car’s supercharged 480-cubic-inch Hemi engine cranks out between 1,100 and 1,200 horsepower on gas alone.
David Dadd’s 1948 Anglia made a return visit to the 2017 Motorama after winning the Grand Championship a year ago. Its original steel body is finished in a deep black cherry hue. The contrasting interior is apricot Ultraleather. The car, which rides on a air suspension system, is powered by a 454-cubic-inch Chevy V-8.
Oversize wheels accentuate the low-slung profile of this street rod.
Massive changes have transformed this 1968 Chevy Camaro into a one-of-a-kind machine. The car has been channeled, the roof height has been chopped three inches and a three-inch section has been trimmed from the body. A 427-cubic-inch Chevy V-8 reside beneath the custom-fabricated steel hood.
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