Rod Authority’s Best Of SEMA 2018 – “El Chapo” By River City Rods

SEMA held many delights this year. Power Automedia was there and we hit the ground running trying to keep up with the cavalcade of new builds debuting at the show.  There’s over a million square feet of space at the Las Vegas Convention Center and we covered darn near every one of them to bring you the stars of the show.

Over at Energy’s Suspension’s booth we were walloped by River City Rod and Fabrication’s “El Chapo,” a Brazilian market, 1976 Ford B100 that was the recipient of a incredible transformation to restomod dream wagon. Think of it as a stretched full size Bronco and you’ll  get the idea. To American eyes, it looks very exotic as we’ve rarely seen this Blue Oval SUV stateside.

Established in 2016 in Davenport Iowa, River City Rods & Fabrication has quickly risen to become a premier hot rod shop in not only the mid-west, but as well as the nation. Gaining popularity with their unique ability to “build the things you didn’t think of”, River City Rods & Fabrication continues to put together imposing builds with an affordable price tag.

The River City guys implemented a laundry list of “who’s who” in the aftermarket business bringing this Big Bronc into the 21st century. First, they used a custom designed Roadster Shop chassis packed with Energy Suspension’s Hyper-Flex  control arm bushings, motor mounts, body mounts, and manual transmission bushing kit. Then they added a RideTech RidePro X Air management system to get the thing down in the weeds.

Next up, a Coyote Gen II V8 featuring Holley Dual Quad EFI Dominator EFI management, custom valve covers and an air cleaner designed exclusively for “El Chappo” were dropped in. Power is delivered to the ground via a Mustang six-speed transmission and custom Currie, 9-inch rear axle.

All of this rolls on red anodized, Billet Specialties wheels wrapped in Falken Zenith rubber, 20 inched up front and 22s in the rear. This primo rolling stock cloaks big ass, powerful Wilwood brakes, completing the setup.

The body has been smoothed to perfection, and sprayed out in a Porsche battleship-esque  “Graphite Blue” by the maestros over at Stoll’s Autobody.

Inside, Autokraft upholstery used enough red leather to sink a ship. The rouge cowhide covers the T-Bird Seats, door panels and cargo area while a contrasting gray veils the custom instrument panel packed with Dakota Digital gauges.

According to their website, “Energy Suspension is the most asked-for name in performance polyurethane components today. Characterized by the idea “As much an art – as it is a science,”  polyurethane continues to amaze the people who work with it. The complex and diverse nature of Energy’s proprietary material requires our chemists to dedicate their constant attention to development. This devotion has produced the quality components that our customers continue to demand. With applications to fit most popular vehicles as well as a superb customer support network, Energy Suspension is your first quality choice in performance polyurethane suspension components.”

This old orphan Brazilian Ford was a treat to see in person. Kudos to River City Rods for a killer build and Energy Suspension for participating and showcasing it in their booth.

About the author

Dave Cruikshank

Dave Cruikshank is a lifelong car enthusiast and an Editor at Power Automedia. A zealous car geek since birth, he digs lead sleds, curvy fiberglass, kustoms and street rods. He currently owns a '95 Corvette, '76 Cadillac Seville, '99 LS1 Trans Am and big old Ford Van.
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