Viva Las Vegas was marked by sweltering heat, pompadours, and lovely pinups running around trying to stay cool. In review of last year’s coverage, Rod Authority saw a lot of return attendees; not a bad thing for an event to have formed a loyal crowd, but in hopes of keeping this year’s coverage fresh we chose to keep it straight and to the point with a top five.
One thing that makes kustom kulture such an amazing scene is the fact that there are so many styles that comprise it; more than three decades of makes, models, and years make for a great selection, build styles throw another unique element into the equation, and regional build styles are another, more granular aspect that make this section of the automotive world so fun and exciting. Below you’ll find a top five that showcases some different flavors, which one was your personal favorite and why? Be sure to comment at the end of the article below.
Steve Edwards’ “Under $5K” 1927 Ford On Model A Rails
Edwards brought out his gorgeous ’27 from Lake Havasu City, Arizona. We stumbled upon him flirting with the passerby admiring his homebuilt ride. As he finished taking photos with the last group of blushing ladies we caught and learned more about this creation that was built under a surprising budget.
“The ’27 was fitted with a ’32 grille shell with a ’31 grille insert, a 364ci out of a ’61 Buick with six Dellorto carburetors, and a ’57 Chevy rearend with split wishbones & cross leaf springs,” Edwards explained.
The 364ci is mated to a TH400 that was pulled out of a ’65-’66 Grand Sport. The steering box was sourced from a ’37-’38 Chevy and was connected to the column of a ’56 Ford.
“I had found the car sitting in a backyard channeled over a square tube frame with a motorcycle engine in the back of it. That frame was ditched,” Edwards said.
He continued, “The frame was found at an abandoned mine site–we just drug it home. Only thing that I bought new for that car was four tires, the radiator, and the drop front axel. All the rest of that car is used parts that have been cleaned up and restored. This car was built for less than $5,000.”
Jordan Quintal’s “Super Rides Show Stopper” 1930 Model A
Quintal bought the body of this would-be show rod 10-12 years ago. It sat at his shop for six years before work was finally initiated.
“I finally decided I’d build myself one. This was around the time I was building one for a customer. We built the frame and painted it at my shop, Super Rides, out of Escondido, California,” Quintal explained.
Quintal’s Model A houses a 400ci Pontiac stroked to 462ci that’s been mated to a Tremec TKO600. A Ford 9-inch caps off the drivetrain. Astro Supreme wheels complement a set of Mickey Thompson tires that Quintal sourced from a shop in the East Coast.
In total the car took three years to build. A 4-inch chop, a majority of handmade parts in-shop, a dazzling array of chrome parts, and a Lime-Time pearl paint job later–this is a creation that lives up to the name of Quintals’ Southern-California based hot rod shop.
Russ Capuano of Atomics CC’s Bomber-Themed 1930 T-Bucket
It was a good day for Russ Capuano, as we were interviewing him about his ’30 T-Bucket we’d also learned that he’d been inducted into the Atomics Car Club that same day.
“I’d been hanging out with them the past couple of years at the show, they grew to love me and I grew to love them so yeah it’s pretty exciting today,” Capuano explained.
Gary Cooper of Lake Elsinore, California originally built up the ’30. He was a retired fireman and had given it all the World War II attitude that you see before you today. Capuanno and his friends focused their efforts on rebuilding the engine and adding some aesthetic touches throughout the vehicle. That was over eight years ago.
“I drove it here to Vegas all the way from San Diego, and you know there were no problems, it was a little loud and a little cold, but that’s about it,” Capuano joked.
This street shark features a 350ci small-block Chevy with a triple deuce carb setup with progressive linkage. A saginaw three speed and 1980 Camaro rearend tie up the drivetrain.
Other than rebuilding the engine, Capuano explained that there was no need to do anything else to his ride–“it’s perfect just the way it is.”
David De La Rosa of Goodfellas Social Club’s 1951 Chevy Styleline aka “Penny”
One of the coolest homebuilt kustoms at the show was this ’51 Styleline full of attitude. The car was dubbed Penny due to “the color of the car and the fact that it was also built on a budget,” De La Rosa explained.
Some buddies of De La Rosa had originally started the project and when the original owner relocated De La Rosa saw an opportunity to purchase and bring it back to life.
“I finished it off, but by the time I’d bought it she was already shaved and chopped. I rebuilt the engine and made some minor corrections to the suspension,” De La Rosa said.
He added, “The headlights are frenched using the housings from a ’56 Ford. The top is chopped 5 1/2-inches in front and 7-inches in the back.”
Penny’s rear end has been sectioned and the trunk has been sectioned and pancaked as well. A ’78 Camaro front end and ’67 mustang rearend are housed underneath.
Penny is bathed in a single stage industrial shade called Sunset Malibu Orange. Pinstriping was executed courtesy of Julio’s pinstriping out of Fresno, California.
De La Rosa is one of the co-founders of Goodfellas Social Club. He explains that the social club focuses more on the fun of the culture and less on the politics associated with car clubs. “Goodfellas started out as family and friends who shared a passion for cars, it turned into a bad habit from there,” joked De La Rosa. “At the end of the day it’s all about low rods and hot broads.” We couldn’t agree more.
Steve Peters’ Suicide Door Conversion 1935 Ford Cabriolet
Steve Peters is one cool cat who’s been into hot rods and kustoms for decades. Hailing from Phoenix, Arizona he brought out his slick ’35 Cabriolet on air suspension to this year’s Viva Las Vegas. It was a crowd pleaser to say the least.
“I’m from the west coast so the style of pinstriping that you see on my ‘35 was inspired by that,” Peters explained.
A 350ci/TH350 and 9-inch rearend drivetrain combo move this ride along. A suicide door conversion, counter sunk license plate, antennas, and cadillac sombrero hubcaps are some nice customizations that give this ’35 some amp’d up attitude.
The cream pearlescent paint is highlighted by candy blue flames and a midnight blue leather interior.
“I’m a Southern California guy and I’ve been doing this since I can remember. In high school I was hanging with the guys at the end of the parking lot with what they call “rat rods” nowadays. Back then it wasn’t a build style, it was simply all we could afford. I raced stock cars for 20 years,” Peters told us.
He continued, “My brother was into hot rods, but my father wasn’t which was always tough. He’d get on my case about why I’d spent money on this piece of junk or that.”
Peters is a veteran of this culture and it was great to see someone his age relishing in how it’s changed over the years versus being jaded about how things are versus how things “used to be.”
In closing he had some words of wisdom to offer the youth, “Start out with something that’s reasonable. What’s nice about the culture now is that, everything is good, everything is fine–back in the day if you didn’t have a nice paint job or a finished car you didn’t really want to show your car off. Nowadays look around and you have cars in all different sorts of states and build styles, and they’re all welcome.”
So which of the five did you like most? Steve Edwards’ ‘27 Ford built under $5,000, Jordan Quintal’s show-quality Model A, Russ Capuano’s long distance World War II-themed T, David De La Rosa’s homebuilt kustom, or Steve Peters’ suicide conversion ’35 Cabriolet? Comment with your response below and be sure to peruse our gallery showcasing a recap of this year’s Viva Las Vegas Rockabilly Weekend.