Business As Usual on the Darkside

Business As Usual on the Darkside

Isn’t it funny how your inbox got flooded with updates from every business you’ve ever given your email to, about how they’re handling COVID-19?

Well, we just want to let you know it’s business as usual here on the Darkside. Our workspaces are far enough apart to satisfy even the most anxious germaphobe. The Dubs aren’t carriers. The clients are watching their projects progress via our weekly YouTube videos. (Around the Shop videos on Saturdays; Watch Us Work videos on Sundays) and we’ve got enough projects to keep us busy, busy, busy. In fact, our next opening isn’t until July 2020.

Stay safe, friends! Work on your Dubs, create great memories with your family, and go easy on the TP… though we’ve been eyeballing the blue shop towels if things get desperate.

Insurance for Classic Cars: 5 Ways Smart Drivers Stay Safe on the Road

Insurance for Classic Cars: 5 Ways Smart Drivers Stay Safe on the Road

Guest Post by Mark Conner

Why Get Insurance for Classic Cars?

Driving is the most dangerous thing we do on a daily basis. One in 114 people will die from a motor vehicle accident, according to statistics from the National Safety Council. Driver error is a factor in nearly 90 percent of car crashes. That’s a good case for getting insurance for classic cars – or any car!

Small mistakes have big consequences behind the wheel, yet safety is rarely the first thing on our minds while driving. We’re more focused on enjoying the ride than pondering the consequences of an accident sans seatbelts.

It’s time to reprioritize and put safety in the front seat. You can be a safe driver without sacrificing everything you love about driving. These are the top five actions you should take to stay safe on the road.

#1: Know what your car is capable of — and what it isn’t

Knowing your car’s capabilities prevents you from getting into a situation you can’t get out of. For example, if you drive a Volkswagen Golf, Gumtree notes you’ll want to know that shuddering at low speeds is a sign of a failing gearbox and that the engine goes through oil quickly so you should keep some on hand for topping up. Or if you’re heading off-road in a Toyota 4Runner, you should be prepared for more frequent gas stops or pack a gas can due to the vehicle’s low fuel economy. Researching your car’s pros and cons is particularly important if you’re driving a new-to-you car or driving in conditions you’re not accustomed to.

#2: Never drive without insurance for classic cars

Driving uninsured just isn’t worth it. Best-case scenario, you get caught, ticketed, and potentially have your license suspended for driving uninsured. Worst-case scenario, you’re in a serious car accident and get sued for tens of thousands of dollars.

Just because you have insurance doesn’t mean you have enough insurance. If your coverage period is expiring, take a minute to review your car insurance plan before it auto-renews. Are you getting adequate coverage at a fair price, or paying too much for too little? “If you want the best deal on car insurance, you need to comparison shop. Different insurers charge very different prices for basically the same product. The only way to make sure you have the best price is to get quotes from multiple companies,” says And remember, insurance not only protects your car, but it also protects you financially.

#3: Don’t drive while tired

When you have a lot of miles ahead of you, the last thing you want is to put more time between you and your destination. But if you keep driving after your eyelids get heavy, you’re asking for trouble: Drowsy driving is a contributing factor in nearly one in 10 car accidents, recent research shows. Avoid getting behind the wheel when you’re sleep-deprived and pull over for a nap if you feel tired while driving.

#4: Stay off your cell phone

Here’s another bad driving habit to kick: using your phone behind the wheel. It might seem harmless to read a quick text message or tap the next song, but using your phone while driving means your23 times more likely to have an accident. Even handsfree use quadruples your risk of a collision, so play it safe and pull over when you need to use the phone.

#5: Make your old car safer

New cars have more safety features than ever, and it’s not just good marketing: You’re less likely to be fatally injured in a modern car than in a car built prior to 1984. However, that doesn’t mean you have to give up your classic car for a boring crossover. If you’re driving an old VW or Porsche that doesn’t have modern seat belts, let alone safety features like back-up cameras, look into custom restoration. A professional restoration shop can add three-point seatbelts, a modern braking system, brighter headlights, and other safety upgrades so you gain safety without losing style.

Safe driving is good driving. It’’s fun to test your car’s limits and experience the thrill of the open road. But it’s never smart to sacrifice safety for convenience, cost, or complacency. Whether you have bad driving habits you need to fix or an old car that ought to be safer, make changes today so you stay safe for every last mile.


Image via Rawpixel

1969 Karmann Ghia Built by Airkooled Kustoms Featured on VolksAmerica Cover

1969 Karmann Ghia Built by Airkooled Kustoms Featured on VolksAmerica Cover

When you see this 1969 Karmann Ghia in all her glory, you might swoon. She’s that pretty.

But when you read the story behind this 1969 Karmann Ghia build, you might cry… and then smile. After all, who doesn’t love a happy ending?

We’re really proud of VolksAmerica and glad to have the opportunity to contribute to this excellent magazine on a regular basis. Sometimes, it’s a tech article, showing readers how to tackle a restoration or maintenance task. Sometimes, it’s the story of a build – and every build has a story.

Here’s the story of the Currans’ 1969 Karmann Ghia. It’s almost like a country song… in reverse. You’ll see.

1969 Karmann Ghia

It’s The Thought That Counts, Right?

Buying just the right present for someone you love can be tough. By the time we reach a certain age, it’s like, “If they really wanted it, they’d already have it.”

But when Margo and Brian Curran chatted about their upcoming trio of big milestones – they were both turning 50 and coming up on their 25thwedding anniversary all in the same year – they knew just how to do it right, Volkswagen Karmann Ghia style. After all, what better way to celebrate longevity, faithfulness, and fun than to do it in a classic Volkswagen?

Margo had loved Ghias from the time she was little. A favorite uncle who’s since passed had one, and early on, she’d fallen for the sleek curves and quirkiness of these beauties. Not only was this going to be fun to drive, their Ghia would also serve as a lovely tribute, a way to rekindle her memories of her uncle.

What Is It They Say About The Best-Laid Plans?

The Currans bought a Ghia that was advertised as having been partially restored. Sight unseen, halfway across the country. This bold move turned out to be the first step into heartache. The second step was taking it to a shop to complete the restoration.

Know that feeling in the gut when you suspect you’ve made a horrible mistake? That was next in the trajectory of this debacle. It was only when the Currans showed their new old Ghia to a neighbor that their uneasiness found a voice. One look in the engine bay, which was riveted together, and their neighbor urged them to take their poor Volkswagen Karmann Ghia to someone who knows what they’re doing. First up, getting a bumper-to-bumper check-up to make sure it was roadworthy.

Zip Ties? REALLY? 

After a conversation with Airkooled Kustoms in Hazel Green, Alabama, the Currans knew they’d finally found someone who’d shoot straight with them. The shop’s engine builder, “Crazy Uncle Floyd” Husband, took a two-hour road trip with the trailer to fetch it.

“Shoddy” is not a strong enough word for the restoration work done on this ride. There were zip-ties holding the frame together. Yes, plastic zip-ties. That wasn’t the half of all the death-trap features included in this travesty of short-cuts and cosmetic improvements.

Within minutes of getting the Ghia onto the lift, the shop’s late Roger “00-Dub” Moore knew he had a very unpleasant phone call to make. Sure, the shop could tear it all down and start fresh, but who knows what other surprises were in store?

Bad News, then a Good Idea

After breaking the bad news, he told the Currans he had an idea. Just yards away from the shop, there was a similar Ghia, completely unrestored and yet in way better shape. As if he somehow knew his days on earth were coming to a too-early end even then, he admitted his plans to one day restore this ride were unlikely to come to fruition. It was a solid core, and even unrestored would leave the Currans in a better situation than they were currently in with the hunk of junk on the lift.

They said yes. The “lipstick on a pig” ride went bye-bye, off to become some brave soul’s project car (all faults disclosed prior to sale, of course). The solid core began its journey through the restoration process.

1969 Karmann Ghia

Here’s What We Did to this 1969 Karmann Ghia

Transforming this ride from one that was unsafe at any speed – or even standing still – into a reliable and gorgeous brand new, very old car began with a swap out. The 1969 core took on a disk brake upgrade, an upgraded suspension package with rear sway bar, and a 3” narrowed beam.

Then it got a kustom paint job, a tri-stage double ice white jaw-dropper Spook named Snow Blind while he was working on it, and renamed it Whipped Cream once he was done. In the sunlight, you’d understand how this color inspired so many names. Mountain Honey did the semi-custom interior.

Vroom, Vroom!

For more go, go, go, we dropped a 1776 cc engine in, backed by a Stage 2 transmission from Tony Walker at Aircooled Werks. All that gorgeousness rolls past you on EMPI eight-spoke aluminum rims.

As with all complete restorations at Airkooled Kustoms, this gorgeous Ghia boasts three signature skull logo imprints in her paint. Brian says he’s hunted for them, but still can’t find them. That means the $100 bill in Spook’s wallet, earmarked for any client who can find all three, is safe… for now.

1969 Karmann Ghia

Photo Credit Bryan Bacon

The Gift That’ll Keep On Giving

Now that the hard part’s over, the Currans get to the good part – enjoying their Ghia. Like many classic car owners, this ride’s got a name: Storm, like in the X-Men.

They’re babying Storm, of course, since she’s an antique. But you might catch a glimpse if you’re in the right place at the right time, cruising around one of the scenic lakes near Pell City, Alabama.

You’ll find Margo behind the wheel, most likely. Brian’s only driven it once since Storm’s restoration wrapped. They get head-turns everywhere they go, and as you’d expect, lots of conversation about how Storm brings back memories of their Dub. It took some doing, but the Ghia of their dreams is finally the one in their driveway.

Some Parting Words of Wisdom

Honestly, it takes a lot to gross Spook out. Roger was the same way – and the whole krew in the shop, too. These guys get gashed, smashed, and burnt on the regular. They’ve cleared out decades’ worth of dead vermin, old food, and even ancient used diapers in the process of starting restoration projects.

But that’s all part of the job.

Seeing a client get ripped off, though? That’s where they get disgusted.

Spook recounts the moment they put the Curran’s original “restored” up on the lift to figure out why it wasn’t running quite right. What you’d expect to see as the lift rises is a car that might be a little dirty, but that stays “solid” as it goes up. NOT one that bows in the middle. Their “something’s not right here” led to the discovery of the zip ties. From there, it was like going down a rabbit hole of botched repair shortcuts. To know these lovely people had sunk good money into such bad workmanship was enough to turn his stomach.

I asked what the cautionary tale is here.

It’s this:

If you’re buying a vehicle to restore, get someone you trust to inspect it closely before you buy. That goes double if it’s already been restored. For a couple hundred dollars, you’ll buy yourself some peace of mind, knowing you’re not about to get some really bad news that comes too late.

You can find out more about this 1969 Karmann Ghia build and see hundreds and hundreds of more photos here. Plus, if you attend this year’s Low Down in Dub Town, you can feast your eyes on restorations just like this one.

Which VW Transporter Kombi Do YOU Want?

Which VW Transporter Kombi Do YOU Want?

Quick! Which VW Transporter Kombi Is Your Pick?

Does your taste run bone stock original or full-out Darkside kustom? It doesn’t matter which VW Transporter Kombi you drag, haul, or drive to Airkooled Kustoms, we’ll do it right.

It used to be that collectors only wanted Split Window Bus models. The thought of restoring a Bay Window Bus was met with lukewarm enthusiasm. Why bother sinking all that time and money into a less-desirable model? But then Split Windows became harder and harder to find. That made folks give the lowly Bay another look. Of course, as the pecking order shifted, that made Vanagons the low man on the totem pole. As you might predict, Bays have gotten harder to find as demand for them increased. So, guess what’s next on the list to become desirable for restorations? You got it… Vanagons.

Now, no joke, the iconic air-cooled bus styles from about 1957 – 1979 are becoming harder to find. But we know where some stashes are and can get you one. We’ve even seen clients looking for VW Transporter Kombi conversions. Betty Bus is the best example we have in the shop to show you what happens when you take a panel bus and turn it into a camper

Here’s a kool article about a UK shop. It specializes in modern-day conversions that keep the history of the VW Transporter conversion in mind along the lines of the Westfalia, Riviera, and even the Winnebago.

This company does transformations in which Volkswagen Transporter vans become a whole lot more awesome.

Volkswagen’s Transporter vans aren’t usually known for their stylish interiors, comfortable living spaces or modern kitchen facilities.

Coming in a range of shapes and sizes, the iconic van is now more than 65 years old. They are often used commercially due to their value, quality, and ability.

But one company is aiming to change the way people view and use these vehicles. They do that by converting them into sleek and stylish living spaces, offices, garages or whatever else their clients decide they want.


Based in Pontyclun , New Wave Conversions have been transforming leisure vehicles since 2010.

Starting with just two staff members, the company now employs a dedicated team of specialists. They undertake conversions within the T5, T6, Caddy, Caddy-Maxi and Crafter range.


The company offers a number of different conversion packages. They range from traditional holiday camping vans to everyday sports vehicles and beach vans.


Emily Powell, head of sales at New Wave, said: “We try to make the conversions as personal as possible. So, we work on an appointment basis. We sit down with every client beforehand to fit the designs around their lifestyle and character.

“One of our most popular conversions is the ‘Traditional Lux Camper’. It comes with all of the functions required for a modern day camping experience.


“We call it our ‘bread and butter’ package and we do at least one of these a month.

“The second most popular is the ‘Sports Multipurpose Conversion’. This comes with all of the functions for a day van/surf bus/ overnight sleeper.


via This company transforms Volkswagen Transporter vans and the results are just awesome.

Classic or modern, no matter which VW Transporter Kombi you’ve got it bad for, there’s a shop out there that can help you make your bus YOUR bus.

Looking for “VW restoration near me” so you can start your own project? We’re located in North Alabama, just a few miles south of the Tennessee border. Give us a call at 256-828-2123 to schedule a visit to the shop if you’re in the area. And if you’re too far to make this a day trip, you’re in good company. We’ve done restorations for clients all over the country. Many have never even set foot in the shop. We can arrange shipping for your vehicle or source one if you’ve got no project car to start with… piece of cake.

Right now the shop is full of buses. Be sure to check out what’s currently on the floor at Airkooled Kustoms online. Or join us for our annual show every October.

1960 Split Panel VW Bus – Welcome, Betty Bus!

1960 Split Panel VW Bus – Welcome, Betty Bus!

Say Hello to Betty Bus, a 1960 Split Panel VW Bus

Today we welcomed Betty Bus, a 1960 Split Panel VW Bus that originally came in through New York. Manufactured in 1959, this beauty in the rough is about to have some much-needed TLC. The Airkooled Kustoms krew gets pretty excited anytime a client entrusts us with their restoration project. With Betty Bus, that thrill continues as we do the body and paint restoration on this family heirloom.

We may even end up with some decades-old slides or pictures to share. That’s because this split panel VW has been in the client’s family for a long, long time. She even made her way into a family friend’s photo archives.

The Kombi Restoration Process

Stay tuned for the restoration progress. It will begin with disassembly. We bag and tag each piece and part, every nut and bolt, so we can keep what’s usable and replace what’s not. Then it goes out to blast. The parts that aren’t rusted through will return to the shop in bare metal form. Then we’ll seal it to prevent rust from eating it alive seemingly overnight. Then comes the rough metal work (Rodney), where we essentially cure cancer by replacing all the spots that have been devoured by rust over the years.

Want a VW Bus Like this for Yourself?

We can help you make that happen. You might want to check out these Type 2s for sale on the Samba. Just click here to feast your eyes on some prospective 1960 Split Panel VW Bus projects – and other models as well. However, you want to find a vehicle that’s in relatively good condition (especially rust-wise). That will help you to avoid spending the bulk of your restoration project budget on metal work. If you’ve got a bus laying around that you’ve always wanted to restore, great. But if you don’t have one, we can help you source your project bus so that you start with the best possible vehicle for your budget. And yes, you can even have us transform a transporter into a camper. Finally, transporting your VW Bus to the shop is easy – whether you’re local, across the country, or even on the other side of the planet.

What If YOU Won a Kombi?

You may even want to try winning a VW bus in this Kombi Life contest. Great VW magazine, by the way, and we’re proud to have had a vehicle or two featured in recent issues.

Want to learn more about VW buses? Check out this Wikipedia article about them, and scroll down to the segment about First Generation Volkswagen Type 2s.

Watch a 1959 VW Beetle Road Test – Miss Mabel

Watch a 1959 VW Beetle Road Test – Miss Mabel

1959 VW Beetle Road Test

Here’s Mabel’s road test.

If you’re just joining us, you should get to know Miss Mabel. This fine lady is a 1959 VW Beetle the shop has built as our entry in the Ultimate VW Build-Off in Vegas October 1-4, 2015.

Not that she’ll get much road time for the next year. That’s because she’ll spend that time as a trailer queen making the rounds of all the shows the shop goes to. But, still a good idea to make sure she’s good to go if needed.

How’d it go?

(First, I think we’re all glad it’s 00Dub doing the driving!) She made it out of the gravel driveway at the Volkswagen restoration shop with no real problems. Well, except that she lost her Gremlin bell. That’s a pretty strong indicator that we’ve built a pan scraper here. That’s good for the shows, but she’ll need to come up a bit to be driven after she’s done showing off.

PP hopped in to film the next part of her road test (NO SHOES, of course!). Engine’s sounding good, sunroof is lovely, and the interior’s comfy. We passed over a small asphalt strip – just a patch, really, to repair a crack in the road. And on approach, that sucker loomed like an enormous speed bump! Perspective changes quite a bit when you’re that low to the ground. So good so far, though.


Until we took the final curve and the shift just seemed off. Like maybe the brand new VW transmission was stuck in the wrong gear?

Oh… or maybe it was the fact that the weld attaching the shifter in place failed and the shifter came off in Dub’s hand. Yeah, that might be the issue.

This, volks, is why we road test. As eager as we all are to get every completed project out there and sent home with our clients, it’s really not ready until it’s ready. We can’t overstate the importance of testing before we send a Porsche or VW restoration project home. That’s why we typically put about 500 miles on every build we do. We’ll test it under different weather conditions, on different roads, at variable speeds and every sort of normal driving condition you might encounter.

We’ve got a few days before she gets into the hauler to take her cross-country trip – so we’ve got it covered.

Like our videos? Give us a like and a share!

Searching for “VW restoration near me” for a project of your own?

Whether you’re down the road or across the country, we can help. It’s not super expensive to ship project cars across the United States, and about half (maybe more!) of our clients are long-distance. When you look at spending this kind of money on a Porsche or VW restoration project (yeahhhhh, it’s a pretty penny), the cost of shipping your ride to a shop that can do it right is negligible.

Click or call 256-828-2123 to start the conversation about YOUR project.

Custom VW Bug Featured on WHNT Channel 19

Custom VW Bug Makes the News

Miss Mabel, the custom VW bug Airkooled Kustoms is building for the Ultimate VW Build-Off has a whole new slew of admirers in the Huntsville area. And thanks to live news feeds, even across the Atlantic. David Wood of WHNT Channel 19 in Huntsville came out to the shop in Hazel Green. Here, he got the scoop on a local business hand-picked to compete on the national stage against the best of the best in the VW restoration field.

Click to watch here.

Custom VW Bugs Aren’t Normally News

David usually covers the sort of story you’d expect to see on the local news: school board issues, drug busts, charity events, and even high-profile trials. But this was clearly a different sort of assignment. Not exactly breaking news, but instead the opportunity to use his remarkable talent for storytelling. We were delighted by how he captured what Airkooled Kustoms is all about.

The Art of Dubs Meets the Art of Storytelling

As VW restorers, we know what we see when we look around at the shop. We get an eyeful of projects in various states of completion. Also, we see our fellow krew members living out the “blood, sweat, and vintage steel” motto as they pour their own personal variety of OCD into the Dubs to do them right. But it’s always interesting to see someone else’s take on the shop. Especially when that person sees and reports on newsworthy stuff every single day. Imagine watching a journalist’s eyes light up over the stunning beauty of Mabel’s paint job. Then see the moment of clear recognition that what we are creating is kinetic art in the form of brand new old cars. That was pretty kool. What a kick it was getting to see what he did with all the footage he captured (a couple of hours worth) within such a quick turnaround time. It got even better seeing how he was able to tell the story of what the shop is doing with Miss Mabel. All in all, it was a great opportunity to see a storyteller’s art in action.

There are so many angles of the Miss Mabel story that make her cool:

Here’s a 56-year old vehicle getting a full restoration from the ground, up.

Every nut, bolt, panel, and piece gets stripped back to reveal and correct its age- and use-induced flaws. This rebuild will leave Mabel stronger, faster, and more beautiful than anyone back in 1959 would have dreamed possible. Even more than turning back the hands of time, the shop is creating something altogether different in this custom Beetle.

Anyone can slap some after-market chrome doodads onto a car and call it custom. This shop’s forté is in customizing with subtlety.

As you look at an Airkooled Kustoms build, you’ll no doubt miss a lot. Eyeballs typically skim right over incredibly intricate work and badass details because your eye isn’t stopped by them. That’s subtle. Once you truly see what you’re seeing, your jaw will drop. It might drop twice, in fact, both in recognizing what’s been done and in the fact that you didn’t initially see it.

Miss Mabel is named after the late Mabel Powers, a long-time resident of Athens, AL.

She was the wife of the late Dr. Alvin Powers who founded the Athens hospital. Known for her unique mix of class and sass, Mabel’s personality comes through beautifully in her namesake.

VW Restorers Where You’d Never Expect Them

How is it that a local shop in rural Hazel Green, Alabama makes its way into the national spotlight? Especially through a competition of this magnitude? How is it that a whole krew of VW specialists is able to make a living doing what they love? Spending their days restoring generations-old cars practically deemed disposable when they were first built? What kind of clients pour tens of thousands of dollars into these pieces of kinetic art? Especially knowing full-well that the process will take an average of 8 – 18 months?

Watching the sense of awe on David Wood’s face as he roamed the boneyard, spoke with the krew, and examined the vehicles on the shop floor, we knew he’d do a great job in telling the Airkooled Kustoms story. Since it aired, we’ve had several guests arrive at the shop asking to see more of what we’re doing – and many comments and compliments from the shop’s fans from all over the world.

1968 VW Beetle Gets Some Go-Fast Goodies

1968 VW Beetle Gets Some Go-Fast Goodies

1968 Beetle Ragtop Gets Go-Fast Goodies

What can it be? What can it beeeeeee?
See what Rodney and Gee-off just received in the shop. Hint: It goes vroom vroom and makes one very special Beetle go, go, go!

Bonus hint: It makes VW restorers grin like lunatics.

This tribute build is just about a wrap – now that it’s got a working, running, glorious engine. Next, it’s installation time, and then it’ll be time to test, tune, and break that baby in for a couple hundred miles… and THEN it will go home to Kaden’s family, who’ll have a beautiful, badass reminder of a very special boy who loved Volkswagens almost as much as he loved his people.

You can follow the build and see thousands of pictures AKK’s VW restorers take as they work on this 1968 VW Beetle Ragtop here.

Custom VW Restoration – Paint That’ll Make You Drool

Custom VW Restoration

Airkooled Kustoms custom VW restoration shop is known for “doing it right.” There’s nowhere that’s more visible than in our paint. No 50/50 jobs here – you know, looks good at 50 yards if you’re driving 50 mph past it. In fact, the closer you come, the more closely you look, the better the finish looks.

This is Miss Mabel, the 1959 VW Beetle Ragtop the shop is preparing for the Ultimate VW Build-Off. It’s in Las Vegas, October 1-4, 2015. Even though Mabel started out with a relatively sound body, she looked every bit of her nearly sixty years. Her once dull, gray, creased, dinged, patina body has been straightened, repaired, and perfected. Painted and polished to within an inch of her life, she now sports a paint job so slick and juicy that it’s hard not to drool on her.

Making Paint Shiny -er

In this little clip, Spook shows her bling black finish in the shade and the sunlight. That’s to demonstrate why people will be spending an inordinate amount of time looking at her. She looks sinister and shiny in the shade – brilliantly black and blingy in the sunlight – all the same finish, of course.

That’s the hallmark of Airkooled Kustoms custom VW restoration projects. There’s more to see than what your eye picks up right away. Ninja-like, right? With some builds out there, the hope is that you’ll like the car and keep walking before you see what’s wrong with it. It’s the opposite with AKK builds. The longer you look, the more you love it, the more detail you see.

Mabel’s finish is so fine that fans are mistaking it for a mirror in many of her build pictures.

If you’d like to see more, check out the build progress here:

And if you’re planning to join us at the Ultimate VW Build-Off (, be sure to bring your sunglasses. We’d hate for Miss Mabel’s shine to make you squint!

Inspired? Searching for “VW restoration shops near me” now that you’ve caught the bug? Airkooled Kustoms hails from Hazel Green, Alabama. But that doesn’t mean you’ve got to live in the southeast to become a client. In fact, most of our clients live “yonder” (a southern term we’ve come to understand as “not here”). Some of them have project cars they’ve been hauling around for decades. Others have nothing more than a dream and a willing checkbook. We can arrange for transport for you to get your vehicle from hither and yon (we’re not 100% on that one, but think it probably means “wherever you are”) to the shop.

Just give us a call at 256-828-2123 or click to contact us online. The sooner we start talking about your project, the sooner you’ll drive it.

What Does a Car Painter Do at SEMA?

What Does a Car Painter Do at SEMA?

What Does a Car Painter Do at SEMA? Drool, Schmooze, and Absorb

What Does a Car Painter Do

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

What Does a Car Painter Do

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

What Does a Car Painter Do

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

What Does a Car Painter Do

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

What Does a Car Painter Do

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.

Related SEMA Show 2016: Another Amazing Year In the Books

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