"Kamaro"

1969 Chevy Camaro

Builder: Kam Motor Trimming
Trend: Pro everything

The car has a bit of everything; a Pro Touring-type stance and suspension, a Pro Street engine, and a high-end custom show car ...

This is a trend we've seen minor rumblings of in just the past couple of years and initially gave us a raised eyebrow and mixed feelings about the direction. Probably best summed up as "pro everything" or "total pro," as we dubbed Cherry Bomb's mixed genre '68 Camaro on our April '10 cover. Though far from being precisely defined, the basic formula consists of blending a Pro Touring car with stereotypical Pro Street cues, particularly the engine. A big ol' roots blower sticking through the hood is perhaps the first requirement for the look, but it'll probably be EFI-controlled for better manners. That's what grabbed our attention about Australian Rob Zahabi, and his '69 Camaro situated in the Meguiar's booth at SEMA. Well, that and the retina-searing yellow paint. The car has a bit of everything; a Pro Touring-type stance and suspension, a Pro Street engine, and a high-end custom show car interior. When we asked Rob where exactly he was going with the car, he replied, "I've always built cars the way my customers wanted them. This is the first car that I built to be exactly what I wanted a car to be. It's a little bit of everything I like." Perhaps it's the return of Pro Street (which truthfully never waned in Australia), but in a more refined version that refuses to create fairground-dwelling trailer queens. We can only hope, because we're digging it.

By The Numbers

Engine: Dart Little-M-based 400ci small-block Chevy with Weiand 8-71 roots blower, Blower Drive Systems throttle body, and a 200hp shot of nitrous by Jake's Performance in Australia
Trans: full manual valvebody TH400
Rearend: 9-inch with Detroit Truetrac diff and 3.70 gears
Suspension/Chassis: RideTech Level 3 Street Challenge suspension front and rear with StrongArms tubular control arms, MuscleBars sway bars, and AirPod with RidePro e3 controller
Brakes: CPP 6-piston calipers on 13-inch rotors, front and rear
Wheels & Tires: 20x8.5 and 20x10 Billet Specialties with 235/30R20 and 285/25R20 Falken tires
Contact: Kam Motor Trimming; 07-5593-8110; Kam.com.au

"Bad Bird"

1970 Plymouth Road Runner

Builder: Rooster's Rod Shop
Trend: High-end garage projects

Rostenbach wanted to show his son that he could learn to do everything end-to-end, so the entire car was completed by the two of ...

Historically, garage builds instantly indicated that the car was a more basic and budget-oriented project that you wouldn't expect to find entered into shows competing with the big boys from big-name shops. Those days are quickly fading away. When Bob Bertelsen's gorgeous '71 Camaro entered in our Muscle Car of the Year competition (as well as his previous Firebird known as Code Red) that was the first time we remember thinking the distinction had officially been dissolved. Now what we're seeing is an evolution of that into super high-end father/son garage builds. The stated mission of this candy red '70 Plymouth Road Runner from Dennis Rostenbach was to "allow me to work closely with my 9-year-old son and to pass on the knowledge that I have learned over the years." There was no cheating either; Rostenbach wanted to show his son that he could learn to do everything end-to-end, so the entire car, including chassis, driveline, paint and body, and interior was completed by the two of them. We can't imagine a better bonding or learning experience for a young, budding hot rodder. The finished Road Runner was not only on display at SEMA with the best of the best, it caught our eye as one of our favorite cars of the show. That's saying quite a bit considering the hundreds of cars we spent the week salivating over.

By The Numbers

Engine: 6.1L Gen III Hemi with an Imagine Injection system controlled by a FAST XFI ECU, 550 hp
Trans: 4L60E with bellhousing adapter to fit behind the Hemi
Rearend: Ford 9-inch with 4.10 gears
Suspension/Chassis: Reilly Motorsports AlterKation suspension with 11/16-inch sway bar and with Viking double-adjustable shocks in front, Reilly Motorsports Street Lynx triangulated four-link rear with Viking double-adjustable shocks in the rear
Brakes: Wilwood disc, front and rear
Wheels & Tires: 17x8 and 10x10.5 Foose Knights with 245/45R17 and 295/45R18 Nitto tires
Contact: Rooster's Rod Shop; 864-487-2238

"Mach40"

1969 Mustang Mach 1

Builder: Eckert's Rod & Custom
Trend: Blurring the stylistic line between supercars and muscle cars

we thought there was no way those two cars could truly be mashed up into something good looking. Boy, were we wrong.

While the gap in the performance between high-end Pro Touring and track-oriented muscle cars and legit supercars is thinning, the dramatic stylistic differences between the two have always kept them in distinctly different camps. Occasionally we've seen muscle cars imbued with supercar parts that claimed to be crossovers, but all were essentially just exotic drivelines and suspensions dropped into cars that still looked like muscle cars. There's really no way to correctly blend the two to create some sort of love child hybrid. Or is there? Dave Eckert at Eckert's Rod & Custom quite literally blew our minds at the 2012 SEMA show with the Mach40, his interpretation of what a '69 Mach 1 Mustang would look like if it had been the basis for Ford's GT40 race car. We couldn't grasp the concept when we spoke to him prior to SEMA about the build; we thought there was no way those two cars could truly be mashed up into something good looking. Boy, were we wrong. The amount of metalwork to pull the lowered roofline, clamshell, and dropped-nose look off is simply astounding and the final product is perfect in every proportion. We dare say it's better looking than either of the two parent cars, and we're huge fans of both. Our very favorite part, though, is that it was built with the intent of being a daily driver for the owner.

By The Numbers

Engine: 5.4L Ford GT with Whipple 3.0 supercharger and MoTec EFI, 850 hp
Trans: Ford GT transaxle
Rearend: Ford GT with stock gearing
Suspension/Chassis: The front suspension is mostly C6 Corvette adapted to a custom chassis. The rear uses C6 spindles with custom tubular control arms from Eckert's Rod & Custom
Brakes: 6-piston Baer calipers on 14-inch rotors
Wheels & Tires: custom 18x10 and 19x11 Schott wheels with 275/35R18 and 325/30R19 Michelin tires
Contact: Eckert's Rod & Custom; 503-263-2893; EckertsRodandCustom.com

"Hurst GTO"

1965 Pontiac GTO

Builder: Extreme Car Transformations
Trend: Complete modern production chassis swap

With the proliferation of custom-built full chassis configurable for pretty much any car, the idea of using a production platform may seem counterintuitive. Nevertheless, if your real goal is to build a GTO that drives and behaves exactly like a new Corvette, then why not just use a Corvette? That was the concept Tad Nelson of Extreme Car Transformations had for this '65 GTO built for Hurst. We've seen this idea performed a couple of times before, but not quite to this extent. You see, it was more than just the driveline and suspension Nelson was after; he wanted all of the Corvette's technology, including traction control, ABS, electronic brake distribution, speed proportional power steering, navigation system with OnStar, and absolutely all of the interior power accessories right down to the electrochromatic rearview mirror. Beginning with a very rough GTO roller that had been stripped of most of its good parts-and two wrecked C6 Corvettes-Nelson set about stripping the Vettes down to their framerails while keeping the interior intact and removing everything on the GTO between the rocker panels. From there the GTO's outer shell was grafted onto the Corvette's frame while altering as little about the two cars as possible. Nelson wanted the exterior to still look like a factory GTO, but once you slide inside it would be impossible to tell you're not in a new Corvette.

By The Numbers

Engine: '09 Corvette LS3 with Edelbrock E-Force supercharger, 605 hp
Trans: Corvette six-speed transaxle
Rearend: Corvette six-speed transaxle, stock gears
Suspension/Chassis: complete '09 Corvette frame and stock suspension with upgraded Hellwig sway bars
Brakes: '06 GTO calipers and rotors
Wheels & Tires: 18- and 19-inch Corvette replica wheels with 245/45R18 and 285/35R19 Continental tires
Contact: Extreme Car Transformations; 888-714-5298; HurstGTO.com

if your real goal is to build a GTO that drives and behaves exactly like a new Corvette, then why not just use a Corvette?