World of Wheels 2018

Canadian winters – they suck, everyone knows that, and when you’re a car nut they’re even worse since nothing really happens and your choices are either A) not drive your car for 6 months or B) have it take the abuse of rocks, chemicals, and drivers on summer tires crashing into you.

This is all to say that a car show in the middle of winter is a VERY welcome addition to the calendar not just as an escape from the cold and snow, but as a source of inspiration and motivation as the final countdown to spring is underway. Being the first real car show of the year, World of Wheels sees plenty of enthusiasts gather under one roof to show off, and/or admire project vehicles of all makes, models, eras, and styles. If you’re participating it’s surely a great motivator to get your project finished up and detailed; if you’re spectating, it’s a great excuse to grab the camera and go have some fun.

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For me, it was also a good excuse to take the Focus out for a spin and stretch its legs (coilovers?) for the first time in a while. Fortunately, even though there was still plenty of snow outside, the main roads were clear enough that I was able to get it out of the garage in the first place! I’ll admit that it’s been nice driving the Continental and frankly, not having to worry about it getting damaged, but I won’t turn down the opportunity for a run in the Focus…anyway, on to the show itself!

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For the most part I had no idea what I’d be seeing once inside the venue, but there were a few cars that I knew would be on show and the first one I made sure to visit was Giuseppe’s S15. About a year ago – if I have my dates correct and my memory isn’t going yet – he made the (big) decision to sell off his beautifully-built R32 to focus on this new project instead. Despite having it for about 12 months however, this was the first time I’d seen the S15 in person and looking at the photos of it from when it first landed in Canada you’d be forgiven for thinking it was a completely different car!

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Giuseppe spent the last year not only collecting parts, but also having the car completely made over with a colour change. Originally silver, it’s now wearing an OEM R35 colour, keeping it within the Nissan family but still being something different for an S15. I also love the mix of aero that he selected for the car and the overall route he took with the exterior, for what he added as well as what he elected to keep stock. Whereas bumpers are so often swapped out, the fact he kept the OEM pieces and augmented them with subtle add-ons instead, and skipped a full widebody for vented front fenders, led to a very cohesive and tasteful exterior.

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Other subtle tweaks include the deletion of the stock wing’s middle support and Ganador mirrors, which make any car better instantly. Fact. You could almost be mistaken for thinking the exterior of this car was stock as that’s how well it all worked together.

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S15 obsessing over (“Just buy one already”, I can hear you all saying), next up in VEX’s booth was this rather nice BRZ – and no that’s not a typo. This was in fact the Subaru variant of the car; the FR-S bumper was fitted to work with the Rocket Bunny kit. To fill out the new arches were a well-sized set of Enkei RS05RRs, and under the hood sat a very lengthy list of performance modifications with a fully built engine at the center of it all, being fed by a Full Race turbo kit.

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Complain about Rocket Bunny being ‘played out’ all you want, but these still make a huge impact when seen in person. One nice detail which I noticed, that doesn’t really show up in the photos, was that the fenders had been cut out behind the trim pieces (I’m sure there’s an official term for them; chime in now Toyobaru community), turning them from decorations into functional air extractors.

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Last year, Highwood Rod and Custom had what was absolutely one of my favourite cars of the entire event, a ’66 Benz with a modern AMG powertrain and fully custom chassis. I made sure to look for their booth again this year (partially in the hopes of seeing that car once more) and was greeted by this classic Chevy pickup, sporting clearcoat over an otherwise raw exterior – talk about a cool finish! It was hard to get a clear photo of this because it was attracting a lot of onlookers!

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I loved the colourway on this ’32 Ford – be it a modern Honda or classic hotrod, a well-chosen accent colour for the firewall/engine bay always looks cool.

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In many of my show coverage posts I mention how I wish more owners and builders would display information about their cars, and vehicles like this are perfect examples of why. Going off of what the information board shared, this 1972 Dodge Dart was a 340 Special which shouldn’t have existed! The model was supposed to end in the ’70 model year but apparently a couple of dealerships here in Canada (eh) were able to get Dodge to build a small number of additional vehicles for the ’71 and ’72 model years, making for some very rare, and very unknown, examples of the car. It’s always interesting to see differences between US and Canadian-market vehicles, but this is definitely taking it a step further!

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Pause for a moment, and think of the cars you’d turn to if you were wanting to build a drag car. Done? Good.

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I’m going to go ahead and guess that you didn’t have a ’79 Ford Fairmont Squire on that list, right? This thing was so ‘wrong’ and that is why it was so epic.

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Granted it wasn’t quite ready to set any times as it sat at the show but that didn’t matter! The fact that the exterior – while clean – wasn’t showroom condition and showed some patina just made it even cooler. I also love that the roll cage was colour-matched to the interior’s orangey-brown colour. Major thumbs up to this one!

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This 1971 Volvo P1800E was another racer, though this time for road courses and with the black cage, perhaps a bit more under-the-radar as well. Modifications throughout ensured that it’d be up to the task of track days, with that full cage, a fuel cell, new suspension, racing seats and harnesses, and even a fire suppression system. This is how you attend a track day in style!

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This ’99 Accord Wagon is one that regular readers should recognize, for it has been at events all over the place. A neat car to begin with, it’s definitely a recognizable build and one I saw turning a number of heads.

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This Charger is a build which I’m afraid I can’t offer too much additional information on (or any, for that matter), but it looked incredible and there was no way I wasn’t putting it on my memory card. The black paint/white interior combo must be a nightmare to maintain though!

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Another bizarre-and-awesome-for-it car was this 1963 Cadillac Fleetwood Ambulance, with a weathered race livery. Completely unexpected, completely out-there, completely amazing.

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I have to show some Pontiac love of course; this Grand Ville convertible was a very nice – and rather rare – car on display. Apparently one of just 38 examples shipped to Canada for 1971, it was found in a barn in the late ‘80s by the family that still owns it today. Under that hood sat a 7.5L engine backed by a 3-speed transmission – talk about being from a different era! These days transmissions are usually described with larger numbers than the engines.

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To go along with all of the local vehicles, as one of the headlines of the show this year there were a few cars from The Fast and The Furious on display, and while we didn’t get to see the iconic Supra or Skyline, they did have a nice selection on hand.

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You could say the theme of the display was Dom, considering 3 of the 4 were cars he’d driven in the series. The Ice Charger was probably the star considering how many people were grabbing photos of it as compared to the others.

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Next to it was one of the ‘regular’ Chargers – meaning not the crazy off-road or ice variants.

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On the other side, meanwhile, sat the widebody Challenger that made some brief appearances – and this is when it hit me that the current-gen Challenger is about a decade old now! Of course they have been facelifted since but how on earth have these been out so long now and yet still look so current?!

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The fourth and final car was Little Nobody’s widebody WRX from the final sequence in F8. This is where I chuckled a bit – of course, movie cars are often not exactly perfect due to time constraints and the fact that sins can be hidden on film, and while the other three all showed very well in person, you could tell this one had seen a few more shortcuts in its build. I won’t rag on it too much because frankly, it didn’t matter (again, why spend extra time and money on details that won’t make any difference in the final film) but the fact the keyhole had been sprayed white when the car was painted – and other small things like that – were amusing to me. Movie cars!

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More of the Ice Charger because why not…and its turbine/EMP specifically.

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This might as well have been a tipped-over skyscraper with how long it was – a 1961 Chrysler New Yorker (I think my parents had one of these, though not this year) in an impossible-to-miss pink hue. That loud exterior was backed up with a Mopar crate engine (472 Hemi), a custom leather interior, and much more. This was a standout for me, and the amazing colour combo definitely helped.

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I waited a while to get this shot – the 1933 Boyd Coddington Boydster III Prototype (that’s a mouthful) with Mr. Coddington visible on the TV behind. As you’d expect, it was stunning in person with tons of details throughout and of course, mirrors to show that the undercarriage was just as tidy as the top.

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And now for something a bit different; a 1951 Chevrolet pickup with amazing patina – and original patina at that (you never know these days!) – contrasting beautifully with the modern components fitted to it. One small detail I quite liked was the inclusion of a Coors Light tap as a dipstick handle under the hood. And in case the height didn’t tip you off, it was on bags. A classic pickup on bags is something I definitely need in my garage one day.

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Like with the Boydster, when mirrors are set up underneath you know you’re looking at a serious build. This GTX was even numbers matching as a bonus and the Plum Crazy/white combo was beautiful. Looking in said mirrors, I noted that the care had even been taken to not make the undercarriage perfect but rather have overspray and markings just as it would have had originally. To make a car perfect is one thing, but to make it perfectly imperfect, is something entirely different.

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This 1972 Camaro was a real head-turner for obvious reasons – that paint was impossible to miss! Once I could peel my eyes away from the finish however, I was able to learn that it was a one-owner vehicle with just 17,000 miles on the odometer! This thing was almost a mix-up in terms of its history and highlights; a one owner, unrestored, 17,000 mile car that had spent most of its life in storage, and a crazy flaked, customized, 1000 horsepower animal. You’d probably think that I was talking about two different vehicles, but in fact this car was both!

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You may think it’s technically odd to call it unrestored when it’s so heavily modified, but I’d say this car counts as such. The paint and bodywork were done in 1974 for example, so it’s fair to consider it unrestored as the work was carried out when it was almost new and has been left as-is for over 4 decades now.

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Kanji’s car will be one to watch for at Driven Calgary this year as it’ll be debuting a new wrap! For World of Wheels it was still in its pink/purple, gloss/satin scheme, but was sitting lower than normal thanks to its new air suspension; the added flexibility will surely be a welcome addition considering how low Kanji normally has this car. Those with a keen eye will note that his front flares had been re-wrapped (as they were no longer the satin purple accent colour) as he’d just repaired some cracks in them but didn’t have enough of the secondary colour wrap to redo them for the show. This is possibly the last time you’ll see it on this site in this form, and because I ran into an old friend/coworker right after taking this photo and got to talking, I forgot that I hadn’t yet grabbed a full shot of the car. Anyway, watch for its return with a new colour!

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Speaking of wraps, James’s RS was showing off a new one for this year. In other news, not only is he now sponsored by fifteen52, but Rebel Devil Customs as well! Those are names that all of you should of course know, and I’m excited to see where his car goes this year as a result of those partnerships. He has told me which wheels are en route for the RS (though not the colour) and I’m very excited to see them go on.

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Elsewhere, Epic Rod & Custom had a custom rolling chassis on display and I couldn’t ignore the chance to look over it. It’d almost be hard to cover up something so intricate with a body! I wonder if they’d give a discount for ordering a pair – one to use in a car, and one to use as the mother-of-all display pieces?

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The KM4SH BRZ (left) is a car I see each year at World of Wheels, and unless I’m mistaken, only at World of Wheels. The KM4SH kit looks great in person and like the RB BRZ at the show, this one backed up the looks with a turbo kit, not to mention a bunch of other work. I’m a sucker for BRZs in WRB as well, so this one always catches my attention. Hopefully I get to run into it at some other events this year!

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Outside of maybe a Mitsubishi Mirage, can you even buy a pink car today? There were so many vibrant colours on cars back in the ’60s and ’70s – can you miss an era that you never even lived in?

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This M Coupe was reportedly a 1-of-1 example due to its spec, but its rarity didn’t limit it to a life of staying factory original. Thanks to air suspension it was sitting low over a set of custom, and rather aggressive, BBS Style 5s.

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This Supra is one we’d seen at meets last year but I don’t believe it was ever shared on the site – at least not too clearly. Under the hood was not a 2JZ but rather an LS, and the bay featured a snakeskin paint finish. And of course, being Canada, it was a RHD import instead of a LHD variant.

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At events like World of Wheels, there will usually be cars for which the displays on their own are quite an undertaking and worthy of a lot of attention. This ’55 Chevy – in an amazing colourway I might add – had an incredible setup with plenty of build photos to go along with the spec sheet, and even a matching pedal car! I think it’s safe to assume that we’ll never see one of those made of a Focus sedan…all that said, the one downside of these elaborate displays would be that they compromise the ability to really admire the build up close and personal.

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And last but not least, a bit more Pontiac love with this Judge – man I adore these. That infinitely-large garage we all dream about? Mine would have one of these without a doubt, and coincidentally spec’d pretty much just like this. However, until I figure out how to win the lottery I’ll just have to keep returning to shows like World of Wheels to see beauties like these! I hope that you all enjoyed this look at 2018’s edition of the event, and perhaps are just that much more excited for the coming season now! Obviously I couldn’t share each and every vehicle at the show but tried to showcase a range of them to illustrate the diversity on display.

As it’s now mid-March and we are being teased with more sunshine and *gasp* melting snow (so that’s what the road in front of my house looks like! I’d almost forgotten), we are getting to be even more excited for the coming car season and are already booking garage days for installs, organizing small meets, and sneaking more cars out for quick runs as the weather allows. Bring on summer 2018 already!

-Bill

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