My opening 2022 Toronto Motorama Custom Car & Motorsports Expo post was a celebration of the show’s triumphant return to existence after two years of forced hibernation.
Weathering the storm is an accomplishment worth accolades. To use current ‘hip’ colloquialisms, it’s important to people give their roses sooner rather than later. So, Motorama organizers, thank you once again for putting on a great comeback event.
The first post also buried many leads regarding what was to come from my Motorama coverage, and I did this knowing full well I’d get called on those hints in the comments.
Cheap literary trick? Perhaps, but really it just helped bring focus to what my second post should concentrate on.
Motorama is an event where a blistering-fast Supra sits half a hallway away from a humble Honda N-III, so I needed all the help I could get in coming up with a shortlist of vehicles to examine in closer detail.
Alas, I must break it to you, I don’t have any more photos of the Harley/Corvair. I can’t say I was expecting that one to generate as much interest as it did…
One Angry Cat
As Dino touched on recently, the closer you get to double-digit years covering events professionally (or deeper into, in his case), the less you’re shocked by wild builds. In comparison to Mr. Dalle Carbonare I’m still fairly green, but there are certain modifications I’ve seen so many times now that they don’t seem very special anymore. Case in point: overfenders and wide-body conversions.
It would be impossible to recall just how many I’ve seen or written about. Assuming hundreds seems a little conservative, yet thousands seems ridiculous. Regardless, never before Motorama 2022 had I seen a wide-body Jaguar XJ6 on Cragar wheels.
The owner Ray mentioned that his particular variant of the classic 5-spoke wheel is quite rare, and at the show multiple people had attempted to buy them from right under the car. There have been subtle changes to this wheel’s design over the years, and this set has a double step around the spokes and bolt circle that current models do not.
Ray’s wheels are definitely not for sale, because the wide-body his XJ6 wear was designed and built to house these specific 15×10-inch wheels and the white-lettered BFGoodrich rubber that wraps around them.
Originally from England, Ray had most of the bodywork done in the UK by an individual who previously worked for Rolls-Royce. Impressively, it’s all done in metal – aluminum for the valences and steel for everything else. It’s also worth noting that this conversion was completed a quarter of a century ago, yet shows no signs of deterioration whatsoever.
Ray treats the car with the respect a Jaguar deserves, yet stops short of keeping it parked up on doilies. It’s driven as much as it can be during spring and summer.
With help from a bottle of nitrous oxide, the engine puts down 500 or so horsepower. It also sounds nothing like I expected it to.
Among the classics, drag cars and traditional hot rods in Motorama’s front hall, Jag Grewal’s Jeep Gladiator stood out as something completely different.
If any build is going to draw the ire of the comments section today, it’s probably going to be this one. The truck isn’t Jag’s first time doing ‘non-Jeep’ things to a Jeep – it’s a companion piece/tow rig for his 6.2L Hemi-powered Wrangler.
Much like the Wrangler, if you can’t appreciate the end result visually, you should at least be able to appreciate the work put in. From corner to corner, this truck is a combination of in-your-face modifications balanced with more subtle flourishes of color-matching and OEM-style modifications.
Despite purchasing the Jeep brand new, the cutting tools were brought out almost immediately. First, the straight axle was removed and replaced with a custom independent front suspension system.
The rear was next, laid out using a modified universal kit from NFamus Metal adapted to the Gladiator platform. The drive axle is a narrowed Ram 3500 unit used so the 22-inch wheels can tuck under the widened rear fenders.
Although the hood wasn’t popped at the show, underneath it the factory engine has been supercharged.
Motorama served as the truck’s first Canadian debut after its reveal at the 2021 SEMA Show.
Watching the full-circle experience of Honda products dominating ‘tuner’ culture in Ontario fade away and then slowly start to return has been a bit surreal. Civics – EFs and EGs particularly – used to be everywhere in the late ’90s and early 2000s. But, unceremoniously, most found their way to junkyards – Altezza tail lights leaking and molded bumpers cracking.
Now, simpler and more refined examples of the Civic have started to show up fairly consistently. This green EF is a stunning example of the kind of Honda builds becoming more common – function forward and built with an award-worthy attention to detail.
The car was incredibly clean throughout and, with its turbocharged K20, upgraded shifter and Enkei RPF1s shod with fun-sized rubber, clearly built for at least a little bit of spirited driving.
I honestly can’t recall the last time I saw a DB Integra anywhere, and this includes rad era events. This car drew me back a few times, and each time I noticed something different. First the straight, rust-free bodywork. Second, the air-assisted stance. Third, the impressive engine bay.
The honeycomb bead-rolled panels surrounding the turbo K20 motor swap are an interesting touch. Honeycomb bead rolling isn’t exactly easy to do, nor is it commonplace on imports. It paired well alongside the tidied-up bay and polished K-series motor.
I love the odd way the rear windows roll down in these cars. It brings back memories of not quite knowing what to do with my arm when riding around in the back of a four-door Honda.
The last bit of this mid-post Honda homage goes to an Acura EL. These cars were built right here in Ontario, and were only sold in Canada from 1997 to 2005. They were actually released to replace four-door Integras like the one above.
First-generation ELs were essentially rebadged left-hand drive Honda Domanis, which is why the front end of this car may look familiar to some. However, this one is a bit more unique because the owner has adapted an S2000 bumper to fit, and then added a 3D-printed grill with inspiration taken from current-model Acuras. Of course, there’s also a turbocharged K-series engine sitting tidily within a shaved and contrast-painted engine bay.
Finally, the EL sits on discontinued 16×10-inch CCW D240 wheels care of reworked fenders all around.
Crazy Mini builds have become a staple of Motorama, and this Honda-powered 1967 Van is a regular attendee. B-series engine swaps are pretty popular in the Mini modifying world, and this being a modified B18C lifted from an Integra Type R means there’s a lot of power in a little car.
Not too far from the ’67 was a different take on a Mini Van with big power.
In this case, the engine used is a Mazda 13B rotary with a large Garrett turbocharger swinging off the side.
Through the show grapevine, I heard that it makes over 500hp. Usually, word-of-mouth horsepower isn’t something I’d publish, however, I can’t say I’ve seen a lot of Minis on big slicks and pizza-cutters upfront, so I’m inclined to think I wasn’t being sold a false bill of goods regarding this car being a pint-sized monster.
The owner’s supercharged Mini behind it, along with the ‘Small Tire Club’ stickers on both cars, further reassures me that things aren’t being said just to say it.
One wouldn’t put a sticker of your car pulling wheelies on your car if it couldn’t live up to it, right?
Paint Guns, Wire Wheels & Turbos
Before drawing my second post from Motorama to a close, I need to make good on my promise of more lowriders.
Ontario, and neighbouring Quebec, have a very rich lowrider community and honestly, I’m thankful to often find myself smack dab in the middle of it. I’ll never get tired of looking at these creations.
There is just so much put into the top-tier builds that it’s impossible to get bored looking at them. I was particularly impressed by the pattern work done to the cars in the Rollerz Only booth.
I’ve seen detailed pattern, flake and gold leaf work before – it’s a staple of both the lowrider and custom community after all. What made these cars unique is that it was all done in a home garage without dedicated power.
The painter/builder CJ runs an extension cord from his house to his garage, closes the door, turns up the tunes and gets to work. While the master is at work, the oven, washer and dryer inside the house can’t be used. If that’s not complete dedication to a craft, I really don’t know what is.
CJ’s personal Impala was called out by commenter takumifujiwara13954 in my first post due to the side-exit exhaust. That’s there because CJ has dropped an LS motor under the hood along with a fair-sized turbo.
Much like the big wheel movement, the days of sleeping on lowriders from a power perspective are seemingly over.
Hopefully, you enjoyed this second installment from the 2022 Toronto Motorama Custom Car & Motorsports Expo. Hot rod fans, the next one is for you.