Rod Authority’s Top 5 Post-War Vehicles of SEMA 2016


When it comes to amazing builds, the annual SEMA Show never disappoints and this year, we found some of the very best of the best within the Post-War model years. These are our Top 5 Post-War Builds of SEMA 2016 (in no particular order)!


1) John Dwire’s 1956 Chevy Nomad “Nomax”

Built by  James Crosby Designs, this 1956 Nomad is about as unique as they come. No, not because it’s a ’56 Chevy or a wagon, but because of what’s under the hood! Hint – the car is named “Nomax”!

If you guessed a Duramax engine, then you are correct. To be exact, Nomax here is powered by a 2003 LB7 Duramax diesel engine, giving the car one heck of a unique setup. The diesel engine is topped off with a Garrett turbo, custom exhaust system from MBRP Inc., and an XS Power Battery.


Built atop a full TCI Engineering suspension system flanked with Ridetech coilovers, Nomax is no sissy. Channeling the Duramax’s power to the pavement are Forgeline Grip Equipped Dropkick wheels wrapped in sticky Nitto rubber. The car also features Baer disc brakes on all four corners and Anzo lights for optimal visibility at night.

Body modifications on the car include widened front wheel wells (to fit that massive Duramax and all it’s factory goodies), and custom brushed stainless and nickle trim. The Nomad’s body lines remain mostly factory, setting off the Orange and Silver paint scheme nicely.


Inside, the Nomad features custom adjustable benches with tuck and roll inserts by Elegance Auto Interiors. Matching door panels, dash with Dakota Digital gauges, steering wheel, tilt column, and a custom center console tie everything together for a sleek custom finish. Even the back of the Nomad matches, with Buckskin-colored bolsters and tailgate trim, as well as dark gray carpeting with polished rails adorning the luggage compartment and headliner. Touches like a Vintage Air air conditioning unit and a Kicker Bluetooth head unit top off the interior with modern creature comforts.


2) Mark Gooden’s 1952 Mercedes-Benz 170S

Built by Samson Design, this unique 1952 Mercedes Benz was probably the most “out of the ordinary” build we found on the SEMA Show floor. Not only was it the only classic Mercedes we came across, it was also built in true custom street rod style– something you don’t see of these German luxury cars. Some may scoff at the idea, but with our knowledge of Samson Design’s reputation in the custom hot rod world and one look at this beautiful build, we just couldn’t deny it a spot in our Top 5 list!


With a build of this caliber, it should come as no surprise that the Mercedes competed at the 2016 Detroit Autorama for the exclusive Ridler Award, making it into the famous Great 8. Billy Thomas’ 1939 Oldsmobile convertible ultimately took the top prize, but the Samson Design-built car certainly made its mark!

Built on a hand-fabricated frame, the Mercedes runs an altered Heidts suspension system sporting QA1 coilovers, one-off Mercedes-emblazoned wheels, disc brakes and sticky Yokohama rubber. True to American street rod style, the Benz boasts a hefty LS3 under the hood, which was moved back in the frame by 10 inches and topped off with custom engine dress-up components.


Design-wise, the Mercedes features a chopped and wedge-cut top, hand-formed fenders and running boards, a custom firewall and even new floors. Inside, the car is equipped with a custom interior featuring hand-stitched brown leather upholstery, matching door panels, a custom dash fitted with nothing but simple round Autometer gauges with billet surrounds.

Included is a simple Mercedes badge for the ultimate clean look, with machined door pulls and window cranks, and a fully finished trunk with custom brown leather “luggage.” Sprayed in Axalta’s Cromax CromaBase Designo Mystic Brown paint, this street rod is certainly one for the books!


3) Mike & Glenna Young’s 1949 Buick Sedanette

Originally built by Chris Carlson Hot Rods for its 2015 SEMA Show reveal, this beautiful 1949 Buick Sedanette made its second appearance at the aftermarket trade show this year, appearing in the Odyssey Battery booth for 2016. Fittingly, the car is equipped with an Odyssey battery, giving the car plenty of charge to start even after being stored through cold Kansas winters.


That’s far from the only performance component this car features, however. Powering the Buick is a BluePrint 383 stroker fitted with two 500cfm Edelbrock carburetors, an Edelbrock dual quad intake manifold, and a custom Magnaflow-equipped stainless steel exhaust system. Pushing the stroker motor’s power to the pavement is a 700R transmission tied to a 9-inch Currie Positraction rearend with 3.73 gears.

Underneath the car, you’ll find a full TCI suspension system with a Mustang II front end and a 4-link out back, fitted to the Buick’s boxed frame. Other chassis modifications on the car include rack and pinion steering, RideTech coilovers, a TCI swaybar, and GM 4-wheel disc brakes. Hoops and shoes for the ’49 come in the form of 17×8-inch Circle Racing Wheels and Diamond Back wide whites.


Aesthetically, the Buick is just as pleasing. In addition to being chopped, the car features a pancaked and wedged hood with a custom peak, extended quarters, which were welded directly to the body, peaked fenders, 1956 Oldsmobile headlights, 1954 Mercury taillights, shaved door handles, and a smoothed firewall and inner fender wells. The build is finished off in a Martin Senour Automotive Finishes’ Granite paint scheme. Pinstriping around the rear license plate was done by Chris’ son, 16-year-old Troy Carlson.


Inside, the Buick features front and rear seats borrowed from a 1965 Thunderbird and then wrapped in custom Charcoal leather, topped off with seat belts from Juliano’s. There’s also a custom dash fitted with Dakota Digital gauges, a Custom Autosound stereo system, Con2R steering wheel mounted to an ididit steering column, a Con2R shifter knob atop a Lokar shifter, Vintage Air air conditioning unit, SPW automatic windows, a Wilwood under-dash master cylinder, and custom door handles and aluminum trim from Clayton Machine Works.

Saved from its grave future of continuing to sit next to a barn in Idaho (where it had been since 1959), this beautiful car is a true “rags to riches” SEMA build!


4) Rodger Lee-Built 1957 Chevy 210

Another impressive Tri-Five, this 1957 Chevy 210 was revealed for the first time on Tuesday at the SEMA Show in the Flowmaster booth. Built by Rodger Lee and the team at Ironworks Speed and Kustom for Whipple Superchargers, this car is nothing short of amazing with countless custom aspects.

Equipped with Ridetech’s ShockWave suspension system controlled using an AccuAir air management system, this classic Chevy is built to perform. Under the hood, the 210 features a potent LS9 V8 topped fittingly with a 4.5L Whipple supercharger, as well other performance components like Flowmaster mufflers, a custom carbon fiber air intake, custom dual exhaust system, and a Holley Performance ECU. Harnessing the LS9’s power and directing its force to the pavement are HRE Performance Wheels wrapped in Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tires with Wilwood disc brakes supplying ample stopping power.

DSC_0824The customization of the car goes much deeper than the performance aspects of the build, with custom modifications like carbon fiber bumpers, a custom carbon fiber and billet grille, custom billet roof side trim emblazoned with “Whipple” on the pillars, custom headlight bezels, custom taillights and custom trim encompassing the rear tail fins, all adding to the aesthetics of the Chevy.

The interior of the car follows suit, featuring fully adjustable bucket seats up front, finished in red leather with black suede inserts and complimentary red stitching, matching rear seats, custom black-on-black door panels with red piping detail, and a custom center console with an upholstered armrest and a billet surround around the B&M shifter and air suspension controls. The interior also features a custom billet dash cluster, Holley ECU dash display, and custom billet door pulls.

The build is topped off in PPG Telesto Gray Paint with blacked-out fin inserts and a custom Whipple Superchargers graphic on the hood.



5) Terry Altman’s 1954 Ford F100 Panel Wagon “Capone”

There’s nothing we like more than unique, full customs and this 1954 F100 Panel Wagon certainly fits the bill. Built by Terry Altman at his shop in Russellville, Arkansas, Altman’s Body Shop, there are so many custom details on this build that this is just a short list of what the car has to offer!

This incredible wagon is a full ground-up build, with every body panel having been modified or manipulated to get the finished result. The front and rear quarter panels, for example, were shortened six inches, as was the rear of the Ford. The doors on the car were stretched six inches, the tail section of the build was widened by five inches and leaned in one inch, and a handmade tailgate was crafted for the rear of the wagon. The roofline on the Ford was also significantly manipulated by lowering the windshield frame by an inch and leaning it back to a 62-degree angle for a much lower overall profile.


Impressively, all of the wagon’s body lines were done in metal rather than with body filler, like so many are. The Ford also received many new body panels, including rocker panels, cowl sides and a new firewall.

There are no side windows (or side pillars) in the wagon, so even details like the door caps had to be custom made. Mounting the tailgate alone was a feat of superior engineering, with custom heavy-duty hinges and a cable and pulley system designed specifically to manage the weight of the tailgate and assist in its opening and closing. The tailgate is topped off with a custom machined V8 emblem prominently displayed under the back window.

DSC_1058Inside, the wagon’s interior is just as custom, featuring a custom dash with center-mounted gauges, custom fawn-colored leather upholstery over plush buckets up front and an equally plush bench in back, matching door panels and center armrest (which houses the PCS electronic shift control unit), a custom center console (which houses the wagon’s air ride controls), a custom steering wheel emblazoned with “Capone” in the center, and a full Kicker audio system. The entire build is finished off in a deep Axalta Standox Single Stage Black paint scheme and a fawn-colored top.

Moving on to the performance aspects of the wagon, there’s nothing that won’t impress. The Ford is mounted to a custom chassis from TCI Engineering featuring a Mustang II front end, stainless steel control arms, Ridetech ShockWaves and a Flaming River rack and pinion steering setup. Out back is a Currie rearend with a Strange polished aluminum center section and 3.00 gears. Wilwood discs, Budnik polished aluminum hoops and Mickey Thompson shoes are just a few more performance components included in the build.


Under the hood of the wagon is a fully massaged Kuntz and Co.-built 460ci V8 stroked to 509ci. This bad boy is fitted with Kaase Boss 9 heads, an Eagle crank, Diamond pistons, an Innovators West balancer.

Featuring a custom handmade air plenum that feeds into a Hogan Racing intake, a FAST EFI system, MSD ignition, this bullet is fronted with a Billet Specialties belt drive system, and a Griffin radiator with dual BeCool fans. A custom exhaust system consisting of custom-fabricated stainless steel headers, Magnaflow mufflers and custom side exits completes the package.

With all that said and done, this potent eight-cylinder makes 750hp and 705 lbs/ft of torque, which it pushes to the rear wheels via a BTE Powerglide transmission fitted with a 3,800 stall converter and tied to an aluminum driveshaft.

DSC_0561Honorable Mentions:

Kyle Holmes Lauman’s 1947 Chevy Kustom “Voluptuous”

True to its name, this gorgeous 1947 Chevy kustom built by Night Shift Kustoms of St. George, Utah, is one lovely lady! Featuring a chopped convertible roofline, hardtop windows, a custom Duvall style windshield, and a 3-window conversion from the car’s original 5-window form, this incredible kustom will turn heads everywhere it goes.

Boasting an air ride suspension system, the build achieves its low-down stance as well as the perfect ride height for driving thanks to a belt-driven pump. Powering the car is a 230ci Straight Six fitted with a McCulloch supercharger and backed by a Turbo 350 transmission. Other impressive features of this build include custom upholstery by Ruben Garnica, LizardSkin sound deadening, custom wood “cabinets” behind the seats for storage, an E-Stopp E-brake, 1958 Corvette steering wheel, 1953 Chevy wheels with custom center caps, and a full Arc Audio custom stereo system.

Finished off in a matte cream color with a black convertible top, brass-trimmed windshield and custom hood ornament, this traditionally styled kustom should continue to be on your radar.


About the author

Lindsey Fisher

Lindsey is a freelance writer and lover of anything with a rumble. Hot rods, muscle cars, motorcycles - she's owned and driven it all. When she's not busy writing about them, she's out in her garage wrenching away. Who doesn't love a tech-savy gal that knows her way around a garage?
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