The Roadster Shop
It's called The Roadster Shop since that's what the company started with, and still directs a great deal of its business toward, but nowadays there's so much more than street rods rolling out of Phil and Jeremy Gerber's Mundelein, Illinois, shop. While a progression in the interest of customers toward muscle cars partially fueled the decision to expand their portfolio, it was also Phil and Jeremy's desire to build cars that integrated high-performance capability into vintage steel that blurs the line between show car and track car.

That's a claim that's been tossed around quite a bit, but The Roadster Shop backs it up by changing the way performance muscle cars are built. "Everything has gotten much more technologically advanced in the past few years. It used to be that generic suspension kits were good enough, but now we use suspension analysis software and Solid Works to design our own in-house parts and balance the suspension," Jeremy says. Ackerman, correct caster and camber range, instant center, and nearly every other facet of chassis design typically reserved for track cars are taken into account when adapting The Roadster Shop's suspension designs to a particular project. Of course, the look is still important, but, as Phil put it, "Customers now want their cars to be capable of more than they are." Those same guys, who might buy a Z06 Vette or Ford GT because of their performance potential even though they may never reach the limits, are beginning to expect comparable capabilities from their muscle cars.

What's also surprising is that Phil and Jeremy are starting to hear those requests from their high-end customers. The guys who ask them to push the envelope in nearly all facets of the build, including custom-designed one-off parts in the name of jaw-dropping show car style are looking for more substance. Take the 2009 Goodguys Street Machine of the Year winner, the C1RS, for example. There's no question that this car redefined what it is to update a classic aesthetically, since its final manifestation was much more akin to a retro-inspired modern roadster than a modernized classic. This appears to be the ultimate evolution of a street machine, but the real kicker was that it was also a legitimate performer.

After completion, but before its delivery and debut, the C1RS spent two days at the Autobahn Country Club making laps and getting the shocks, springs, and sway bars adjusted or swapped out to get it dialed-in and balanced. That extra effort paid off in the Goodguys Street Machine of the Year competition, where the C1RS bested all comers on the autocross course. At the Optima Invitational in Pahrump, Nevada, the C1RS was run flat-out and at one point Phil entered a turn too hot and had to correct a severe oversteer situation that had him drifting toward a wall. They were pushing it that hard. Now that's refreshing, especially considering nearly every part of the car is handmade to Ridler Award standards, and exceptionally expensive to reproduce. Actually, Jeremy feels that's the direction many top-level builds will be moving toward: exceptional build quality and style coupled with exceptional driveability.

So what about street rods? The Roadster Shop still builds impressive projects on a regular basis, and they'd love to find a customer who would like to blend the performance ethos of the C1RS into a '30s body style.

The Roadster Shop