What Does a Car Painter Do at SEMA? Drool, Schmooze, and Absorb
Anyone who knows Spook well enough to walk a car show’s grounds with him knows that you’ll get his no-nonsense take on what he sees there. So, what do car painters like him and his son Thomas do while exploring a show the calibre of SEMA?
Drool over the amount of passion the smaller builders brought to the show with their high attention to detail.
Schmooze with suppliers of the fine products we use in the shop, starting with our hosts 3M, but also including Axalta, Griot’s Garage, Mother’s, Meguiars, and several others. It’s always good to meet our partners face-to-face, and we’re proud of the quality they put into their products as they help us make kool stuff.
Absorb the interesting styling trends, while mostly for the newer market, and contemplating what might work in our cars. This was even kooler when we’d see new technologies given a klassic feel.
Here’s Spook’s Take on SEMA 2016
Most days we walked about 18K steps as we explored the acres and acres of exhibits that made up SEMA’s 50th annual show in Las Vegas. This, with Spook’s broken toe (and still-healing broken ribs).
We took LOTS of pictures of SEMA 2016 – hundreds of them. Check them out and let us know what catches your eye.
It can take a bit to digest THAT much input – and we got Spook to give us the lowdown on the top five trends he noticed at this year’s show. Here they are.
SEMA 2016 Trend #1: MUSTANGS, Like, Everywhere
It seemed like everyone got the memo: Build a Mustang for the show this year. Ford had a huge presence at the show, and everywhere you looked, there were Mustangs. OK, there were also some Jeeps, Ford trucks, and a hefty helping of mid-90’s Porsches… but mostly, there were Mustangs. He’s not much of a Mustang guy, but he did appreciate seeing so many variations of the same car.
SEMA 2016 Trend #2: I Like Big Trucks and I Cannot Lie… But WOW
When Spook’s 6′ 3″ frame is dwarfed by a truck’s body, it might be too big. The engineering is beautiful, and who wouldn’t want to own the whole road by driving a gargantuan vehicle on it? Spook’s ’97 OBS F250 looked like a Matchbox compared with these behemoths.
SEMA 2016 Trend #3: New, New, New
We saw a FEW classic Dubs, but not many. In fact, there weren’t many classic cars at all – a few, and some of them were jaw-droppingly gorgeous – and they seemed to draw more crowds than the herd drew. Might be an indicator exhibitors should pay attention to next year… build something more interesting, and people will flock to it.
SEMA 2016 Trend #4: Here a Wrap, There a Wrap, Everywhere a Wrap, Wrap
Combine this trend with the last one (maybe half of those Mustangs were wrapped), and you’ll understand a correlation he made between wrapped Mustangs and booth bunnies (also everywhere)…
Once you’ve seen half a dozen, you’ve seen them all. Different shapes, sizes, and colors – some with more meat on the rolling edge than others… but overall, not particularly interesting.
What does a car painter do when he sees wraps? Usually, he kind of makes ‘that’ face – you know, with the one eyebrow up. You see, wraps ARE kind of cool because your options are virtually unlimited. You can fake a paint job and come up with practically any look you can imagine.
But, it’s a wrap. He’s a paint guy. ‘Nuff said.
SEMA 2016 Trend #5: Paint, Sort Of
It wasn’t ALL wraps at SEMA, of course. Some builders went with paint finishes. A few even did it well, like this Caddy with the L-O-N-G straight panels and near-flawless paint.
All the work that went into building cars worthy of this magnificent event was easy to see. Innovation, brilliant engineering, creative design – it was all there. So it was puzzling to see many vehicles with a fit and finish that was lacking. Orange peel, incomplete polish processes (hologramming), and lack of attention to detail kind of drove him nuts.
No doubt there’s a major crunch time right before completing a build and getting it out to the show. While the builders did a spectacular job on the builds, many shorted themselves when it came time to do paint and polish. Because of this, many of the cars felt somehow incomplete, rushed, and lacking… in the one element that takes up so much of the build’s overall appearance.
SEMA 2016 – A Feast for the Eyes
So much to see, so many cool peeps to meet – a great trip out to Vegas that we’ll definitely do again.
“What are the future classic cars,” you ask? Well, let’s just whip out the old crystal ball and find out.
It sure would be good to know whether we ought to hang onto that kid’s 1995 Ford Aspire, or that 2004 Honda Accord. You never, know, right?
That’s the odd thing with classic cars – sometimes, like with the VW Beetle, the cars were everywhere at the peak of their popularity… and they didn’t cost much. Most of our restoration clients who bring heritage cars in (meaning, it’s a car that’s been in their family for generations) at some point say their dad or grandad (or whoever was the original owner) would roll in his grave if he only knew how much money was about to be poured into this restoration. They were bought originally as economical vehicles. Now, they’re kinetic art to be displayed at car shows, daily drivers, and everything in between.
You just never know. Read this article to s
What are the future classic cars? Here are 8 Have a Good Shot in 20 Years
Like fine wine, rich Wisconsin cheese, James Bond flicks, and kimchi, certain cars age extremely well compared to everything else around them. Destined for destruction, most cars are doomed once they reach a certain age or mileage, and with Americans upgrading to new cars like never before, older cars are increasingly at risk of being sent to the crusher.
But not all cars are up for retirement; as they age certain vehicles grow in both popularity and demand. As classics like the ’69 Dodge Charger Daytona give way to highly coveted imports like the original Acura NSX, we’ve begun to wonder what the next classics will be.
Collectible automobiles are usually sought by people who have a strong sentimental connection to a car, whether that means they owned it as a kid or lusted after it but couldn’t afford it. High-end or limited-run cars also tend to retain their value and stay in demand. But this doesn’t mean that all of these cars will retain their value forever, nor will they be in constant demand until the end of time because trends and collector preferences are forever changing.
So as time marches on, millennials are growing sentimental over the cars they’ve loved from the 1990s to today, and their ability to buy these machines is increasing. Here are eight cars we’re sure will be coveted in 20 years, standing as testaments to the car enthusiast’s desire to hold onto their glory days, no matter what their age.
1. Porsche 911 R
Porsche 911 R | Source: Porsche
Pulling heavy influence from an iconic 1967 race car, this stripped-down (and completely sold-out) sports car is about as race-ready and exclusive as it gets. Only 991 of these cars exist, and with its exclusive manual gearbox, optional lift system, 20-inch staggered alloys, and 500-horsepower powerband, the 911 R is already one of the most coveted cars in the world. While it may not be as technologically advanced or insane looking as the 918 Spyder, this car’s traditional lines, simplistic approach to power, and less-is-more approach to fun will more than likely help it feel timeless in 20.
2. Nissan 300ZX Twin Turbo
1990 Nissan 300ZX | Source: Nissan
Despite its popularity and relatively long production run (1990–’96 in the U.S., 1989–2000 in Japan), the twin-turbo 300ZX was one of those cars that was way ahead of its time. While it has yet to gain collector car status like the Acura NSX, the chiseled little lift-back has all the trappings of a future classic. It’s one of those cars that’s both period correct and timeless all at once, and while non boosted versions will likely be sought out as well, the turbocharged model will be the one to have considering its rarity and performance gains.
3. Honda S2000 CR
Honda S2000 CR | Source: Honda
While the S2000 already has become a highly desirable roadster, it’s the “Club Racer” or CR model that’s the real gem. This limited edition final fling (available only for 2008–’09) from Honda was a race prepped, road legal two-seater that only came in four colors and didn’t have leather, AC, radio, or a soft top, all in the name of weight savings. With only 1,400 in existence and a cult following that’s almost all millennial-based, the CR is a prime example of what a “future collectible” is.
4. BMW M3 (E46)
BMW M3 | Source: BMW
Already in high demand for its solid performance capabilities and reasonable reliability, the 2000–’06 E46 M3 is on the fast track to being one of the most iconic European performance cars of all-time. With its endearing design and easy to iron out design flaws, this easily augmented BMW of yesteryear will more than likely continue to be a highly sought after collectible.
Here’s a car that dealers just can’t keep in stock, and for damn good reason. With its sharp stick shift, dampening exhaust, flat plane crank V8, massive brakes, and track-tuned aerodynamics, the latest Shelby Mustang is an American muscle car that will more than likely fetch a hefty price on the auction block in 20 years.
6. Jaguar F-Type SVR
Jaguar F-Type SVR | Source: Jaguar
The SVR version of the F-Type is equal parts sexy and sadistic. This carbon fiber-heavy, tuned-up version of the already animalistic sports car has both the pedigree and performance to make it one of the most desirable Jags of all time. With loads of Jaguar pedigree, the thunderous SVR will more than likely stand out as a hot commodity for anyone who wants a rockstar in their garage.
7. Toyota J80 Land Cruiser
Toyota Land Cruiser | Source: Kent Leach
If history tells us anything about 4×4 Toyota trucks and their staying power, it’s that demand only goes up over time. While the older generations remain one hell of a hot commodity, the 1990–’97 J80 Land Cruiser will likely go down as one of the greatest SUVs of all time. With its renowned off-roading capabilities, spacious leather cabin, timeless styling, and proven reliability, this Land Cruiser is only going to increase in value as time goes on.
8. Chevrolet Camaro 1LE
Chevy 1LE Camaro | Micah Wright/Autos Cheat Sheet
Resurrected and ready to rock, Chevy’s track-prepped 1LE Camaro is a new car that everyone seems excited about, and with its sharp styling and modest price tag (starting around $30K), we can see why. We love its massive brakes, bulging body kit, stylish bucket seats, and lightweight wheels, and since it’s about as driver focused as possible, the 1LE has all of the right characteristics to make it a collectible someday.
“Do classic cars increase in value?” he says, nodding his head in hopes of hearing a resounding, “YES!”
However, like they say, you can’t pay too much for a Ferrari or an air-cooled Porsche. You can only buy it a little too soon.
Here’s the scoop on whether classic cars are a sound investment: No. Not really.
But that’s not why people spend an arm, a leg, and their right nut to get one. It’s a great side benefit if your classic car appreciates, of course. All it takes is a gander at what’s on the block with Barrett Jackson – well, the legendary sales, anyway – to see what’s possible. But you’d be nuts to think that’s a quick and massive uptick in market value is the norm.
It’s all about supply and demand, baby. As the supply of classic cars dwindles, and the demand increases, the prices go up. It’s what’s happening with the VW bus, too. Used to be only the 21-window splitties were lustable. Now that they’re reaching unattainable heights of pricing, the Bays are starting to look good to collectors and VW enthusiasts. You know what that means is coming next, don’t you? Yeah… Vanagons. (Sorry.)
So, yes – the long and the short of the answer to “Do classic cars increase in value?” is YES. But it may take a while, and a lot depends on the condition of the car. Getting it restored by someone who doesn’t do supremely excellent work isn’t going to do anything good for the market value. Getting it done by a shop that pretty much took a blood oath to do it right… that’s your best bet.
Here’s an article we thought you’d like about this whole discussion.
Classic Sports Car Bubble — Buying Vintage Cars
As I rolled into the hotel parking lot, not-so-fresh from a miserable 96-mile sportbike ride in conditions varying from “light rain” to “Helen Hunt watching a cow fly by the windshield of a pickup,” I saw what I thought was a Ferrari 365 Berlinetta Boxer, and I stopped dead in the middle of the road to get a better look. Turns out that it wasn’t a Boxer; rather, it was a 308 Quattrovalvole in that two-tone “Boxer” paint scheme that recently made a reappearance of sorts on the 458 Speciale.
Turns out that the 308QV owner was part of the group I was meeting for dinner that night. The next day, I joined him for a quick drive around some rural Ohio two-lanes. “The car really comes alive on roads like this,” he noted. I had to agree. In fact, by the end of the night I had authentic used-Ferrari fever, of the sort that only affects me every 10 years or so.
I have a friend with plenty of experience working on mid-engined Ferraris, and over the years he’s owned more than a few 308s. Typically he buys them in the mid-$20,000 range, fixes what needs fixing, and sells them in the high 30s or low 40s. I haven’t seen a 308 in his shop for a few years, so I figured I’d take a look at the classifieds and see what I could get for under 50 grand. Most of the 308s sold here were targa tops thanks to the pernicious influence of the otherwise outstanding show Magnum, P.I., but I’ve always been more fond of the Berlinetta steel-roof coupes. Surely I could get a decent Quattrovalvole coupe for 50 grand?
If you’ve looked at vintage Ferrari pricing lately, then you’re already laughing out loud at my ignorance. The entry point for a well-maintained 308 GTSi eight-valve car is $65k. A QV GTB coupe? I found four. One was listed at $135,000. Another was $160,000 or best offer. The other two just said, “Inquire for pricing,” as if they were 250GTOs stored in hermetically sealed bubbles or something.
“Of course,” one of my dinner companions had remarked the night before, “a 250GTO was once just a used car.” The same is true of the front-engined Daytona coupe and convertible, which used to litter the back page of Road & Track classifieds for about the same price as a new Corvette but which now regularly threaten the million-dollar mark. That wasn’t supposed to happen to the 308GT4 Dino and its descendants, which were built and sold in numbers far exceeding any other Ferrari in history. Not only are they common, but they’re also pretty slow; my wife’s Cobb-tuned Fiesta ST will cheerfully dust any V8 Ferrari from the era that isn’t wearing flared fenders and a GTO badge.
You can make almost exactly the same arguments regarding the Porsche 911 Carrera 3.2, which sold in unprecedented numbers during the Eighties and which can’t stay in front of a Toyota Camry V6. Yet air-cooled 911s, even the crummy ones, are currently selling for unheard-of prices. Ten years ago, I passed up all sorts of 911SCs for 11 or 12 grand. Those same cars are now selling for $30,000. Carreras with the G50 transmission are doubling that. And if a 1984 Porsche with 100,000 miles on it is worth 60 grand, surely the Ferrari from the same era is worth more.
Any day now, somebody is going to pay six figures for a maintenance-deferred 348ts Targa
A lot of people are calling the current surge in sports-car pricing a “bubble.” It has all the hallmarks of a traditional asset-price bubble like the one that ravaged the Ferrari-spectator market 30 years ago. Everything costs more than it did five years ago, and that includes stuff that has typically been sale-proof, like early Testarossas and 550 Maranellos. Any day now, somebody is going to pay six figures for a maintenance-deferred 348ts Targa. If I recall my youthful readings of the King James Bible correctly, the minute the check clears on the aforementioned 348 deal, the sky will turn dark and the oceans will turn to blood. And not a minute too soon.
All of that being said, I can’t help but note the fact that none of the prices paid for classic Ferraris at the height of the previous “speculator bubble” would be anything but a staggeringly brilliant investment by today’s standards. Anybody who was “stupid” enough to pay six million bucks for a GTO back then can get five or six times that much for it now. As an investment, you’d have been better off buying stock in Apple, but not even the most fascinating securities portfolio gets invited to Goodwood or Monterey. So the old saying might be right: You can’t pay too much for a Ferrari or an air-cooled Porsche. You can only buy it a little too soon. Fifty years from now, even my ragged-out, low-option ’95 Porsche 993, veteran of a thousand autocrosses, impromptu freeway races, and full-throttle runs through the Hocking Hills, will be worth an embarrassing amount of money. Thank God I won’t be around to have to make the choice between selling and keeping it.
This wrecking yard in Colorado might not be as chock-full of Volkswagens as the boneyard at Airkooled Kustoms, but skulking around there to see what’s there sure wouldn’t suck. That’s one tactic for how to find classic cars.
If you’re wondering how to find classic cars – especially cars you could use as a core for your VW or Porsche restoration project – one way to go about it is to look through wrecking yards like this. The body might be a hot mess, but there may be usable parts you’ll want, maybe even original parts that aren’t typically available these days.
At Airkooled Kustoms, we’ve worked with clients from all over the country – and even some overseas – and getting your project car to us is easier than you might think. We do it all the time!
But, what if you want to know how to find classic cars that are in near-drivable condition?
Not a problem at all. Just one of 00Dub’s mystical powers is finding sound project cars that don’t look like squashed accordions… and nobody beats Roger at negotiating a good price. (Have you seen him at the swap meet area of a car show? Dude’s gotten some incredible deals.)
Some of our clients come in with heirloom cars – the VW or Porsche they had as a teen or young adult. Some inherited their ride from its original owner (like Mojoe). Some have been hauling their classic Volkswagen around with them for a decade or more (like LB).
But some come in with nothing more than an idea of their dream Dub, and we take it from there. That’s the story with RDC. Ron knew what he wanted, a double cab, badass to the hilt. We found one, got it shipped here, and it’s well on its way to being something so subtly sinister that none of us can help but drool a bit when we go back to the corner of the shop where it’s getting transformed.
So, if you’re out in Colorado, maybe go visit the Corns’ wrecking yard. If you see anything you like – or anything that makes you feel things 🙂 give us a call and a big check, and we’ll get going on building you a brand new, very old Volkswagen or Porsche that’ll turn heads and make you smile.
Here’s a great story about how to find classic cars in Colorado.
A bright orange Ford pickup sits wrapped around a tree. The truck dips in the center from the force of impact, its headlights shoved around either side of its arboreus lover. Surprise though! The tree embraced by 1978 chrome isn’t the one that did the damage. Automotive artists Gary and Alice Corns sat the crumpled Ford against the tree in their wrecking yard as a visual joke, and visitors to Colorado Auto and Parts enjoyed it so much that it’s become a permanent installation. “We moved it once and people asked us where it was, so we had to put it back,” said company president Alice Corns. It’s just one of the quirky presentations you’ll find in in the parts yard’s 38-acre recycling facility.
Alice Corns’ parents started the auto recycling business in 1959. Now she runs it with her husband and sons, Eric and Adam. “Back then it was called a wrecking yard or junkyard,” she told us, “but now I get mad at my kids for calling it a junkyard. They still do though.” With that in mind, we’ll go with wrecking yard for the rest of this post, but bear in mind that the Corns’ business involves much more than simply crushing metal. The majority of the land is a self-service parts yard, like it was when Alice’s dad ran the business, but there’s a section to the side that will blow your mind. See, Alice’s pop was a car collector, and when an interesting classic or muscle car came in during the 40 or so years that he ran the place, he’d stick it off to the side. He restored some, but most just sat there. “I don’t really know why he kept them,” said Alice. “Maybe just to say he had them?”
About a decade ago Alice and Gary moved all the classics out of the self-service yard. “People will destroy a perfect door to get a door handle,” she said. “We didn’t know what we were going to do with the cars, but we knew we didn’t want them crushed.”
Walking through the rusting rows for a car person is like visiting your local animal shelter. “Take us home,” begs a row of crumpled Cougars. A DeSoto grins hopefully at you through a row of broken chrome teeth. A cute, blue Corvair still looks perky, even with a wrinkled hood and shattered windshield. A sleepy-eyed Packard gazes up with double headlights and perfect dagmars. There are some rare machines tucked behind the Mustang-lined fence. Bullet-grilled Cadillacs and Mach1 Mustangs are interspersed with Rolls Royces, Mercedes, and Buick Rivieras. You want classic trucks? Metro vans? A Studebaker? Here, here, and here. How we left without a full load on a flat bed is a triumph of willpower. Oh, speaking of which, here is a Triumph.
So can you buy these cars? The Corns have been selling some of the nicer, titled cars on eBay while deciding what to do with the rest, but now they’re ready to find new homes for the Mustangs, Chryslers, Buicks, Lincolns, and Caddys you’ll see in these photos. “There’s no reason for these cars to sit,” said Alice. “If someone buys them or the parts, they can get a brand-new life. I’m pretty big on recycle, renew, and reuse, and making old cars into hot rods and customs, that is recycling.”
Thinking of starting a classic car restoration project?
At Airkooled Kustoms, we’ve seen a lot of shortcuts people have tried. Here are just a few.
3 Secret Shortcuts for Building the Classic Car Restoration Project of Your Dreams
Who doesn’t love a good shortcut? Like…
Using your leaf blower to clean the gutters… or your living room.
People love shortcuts. Shortcuts let you spend less time doing stuff you’ve got to do, so you can get to the good stuff faster.
What about car restoration? Restore fast so you can drive sooner, right? At Airkooled Kustoms, we’ve seen a lot of shortcuts people have tried. Here are just a few.
Should You Do THIS In Your Car Restoration?
How about this one: Throw Bondo On It. You know, get it close, get it to 40 grit, and then sculpt it with Bondo.
Might be faster, but… Even if it looks nice for a little while, before long, the plastic filler and the metal react to temperature differences and movement. The Bondo gets separated, falls off, and cracks under the paint.
Tip: Don’t use it on any project you care about. There are better options out there, and you should only use the bare minimum of filler that’s needed. So, a no go on Bondo.
Will THIS Speed Your Vintage Car Restoration?
OK, how about this one: Good Enough Is Good Enough. As in, @(#$*… if I send my car out for blast, and all the rusty parts are taken off, there will be nothing left of it! Maybe I could just squoosh some fiberglass resin filler in that rusty spot and call it good.
Rust may not be a crime, but it’s got to be addressed. It’s like cancer, growing out of control and eating your car. Yes, cutting it out, replacing the metal, and then smoothing it down so the repair is invisible takes a LOT of work. But that’s the right way to do it.
Is THIS A Smart Move If You’re Restoring A Classic Car?
Sheesh. OK, how about this paint prep shortcut? Use Newspaper for Masking.
You’re kidding right? Remember Silly Putty and the Sunday Comics? Long story short, there’s a chemistry problem here that’ll cause transfers and fisheyes. (You can ask Spook for the MUCH longer explanation… science, yo.)
Got it. Newspaper bad. Shortcuts bad, at least in car restoration.
Classic car restoration is not a quick project. It’s also not cheap… if you want it done right.
Why Even Bother Getting A Car Restored?
There’s only one reason you’d want to do a car restoration – and that’s because at some point, some classic car stole your heart and wouldn’t let go. You’ve been thinking about it for decades, hauling that car around with you (for real or just as a memory), waiting for the right time, the right shop. Are you going to get it done right? Or are you going to take shortcuts?
Join us for a walkthrough of what’s on the floor at the Airkooled Kustoms VW shop – or at least what’s on the floor on the way to Miss Mabel. Spook’s been busy installing her headliner: clip, snip, stretch, repeat. Engine’s in, too.
Think she’ll be ready for the Ultimate VW Build-Off the first weekend of October 2015?