West Coast Kustoms

31st annual cruisin nationals

Itbeen three decades since the formation of West Coast Kustoms (WCK), a family based organization formed by then newly transplanted Californians, Rich and Penny Pichette. Created solely due to the couplepassion for custom cars, it was a way for a tight-knit group of friends to enjoy their hobby together at a time when the majority of organized functions in SoCal were dedicated solely to street rods. From its grassroots beginnings in the lot of the PichetteJet Drive-In located in Sunnymead, ithard to say if anyone couldever imagined what the future held in store for WCK — or more importantly, what WCK would do for the custom car scene on the West Coast… and beyond. Read more »


Blown away

Logic says that therean optimum amount to spend on any particular type of vehicle. Spend this sum and you will realise approximately 85 per cent of whatachieved by the best in the sector, which can cost multiples more. Itthe law of diminishing returns.

How does this relate to the two midsized luxury performance vehicles you see here, Jaguarfacelifted XFR and BMWM5 ? Well, the latter has a drive-away price of $229k, and the former now costs $160k. A couple of years ago, the XFR went for $210k, and we liked it then. In the intervening period, the pound has plummeted. Once upon a time you needed three Kiwi dollars to buy a single pound, and now two does the trick. The Euro has also lost some ground to the Kiwi, though the M5 has backtracked much less in price, partly because ita totally new vehicle. Undoubtedly, it has a power and performance advantage over the Jaguar XFR, but the power difference isnthat great, as the extra acceleration stems from its slick-shifting tranny. Read more »


Blue steel

Amedee Gordini was a legendary Formula 1 racer and car manufacturer who worked with Renault for a great deal of his life. In the 1960s a Renault-Gordini vehicle completed the 24 Hours Le Mans race. Then Gordini retired, but not before selling his firm to Renault. In 2009, the French car maker announced the revival of Gordini s name for an exclusive line of hot hatches.

The result is a series of premier hatchbacks: the Renault Twingo and the Clio, two of the first to be given the Gordini testosterone shot to the arm. The Clio Gordini Renault Sport is a lithe, nippy and unbelievably aggressive go-kart. Though slightly larger and faster than the Twingo, it retains much of the smallness and sprightliness. Read more »

Mustang II

Making an olds man happy

Cars built during the mid 20th century offered a vast improvement in steering and suspension over their predecessors of even 20 years earlier. Fast forward 50 or 60 years, however, and theywoefully inadequate for todayroads and highway speeds, especially when fitted with more modern engines and powertrains. While some lend themselves to easy suspension swaps (think of the myriad of Mustang II-based crossmembers and clips available in the aftermarket), others arenso easily adapted.

This ’Olds is a perfect case in point. Jules Engoren bought this 455-powered coupe that already had a rack-and-pinion and disc brakes installed, yet he was less than enamored when it showed a tendency to swap lanes on the freeway at the sign of any slight deviation in the road surface. Zero (or even positive) caster made steering lighter in the days before power steering was common, and highway speeds were a lot slower back then. There is no way to adjust the caster on the Olds, yet the owner didnwant to go to the expense and amount of work involved to ”the car. Read more »


Those lazy

Those lazy, crazy, hazy days

Once upon a time, convertibles were cars designed only for balmy spring and summer days, and ideally meant to be mothballed for the rest of the year. Flimsy, draughty tops meant that a “soft-top” was not a car for the cold or the rain, so you needed to be either crazy or wealthy to own one.

I think of traditional British sports cars such as the MGs, Healeys and Triumphs of 50 years ago-beautiful to look at, superb to drive in fine weather. But, with fiddly tops that took ages to erect, “side-screens” instead of wind-up windows and crinkled, scratched sewn-in plastic rear “windows”, they required a good measure of stoicism to “enjoy” when the weather turned inclement. Read more »

Valley Custom

Weight watchers

When Neil Emory and Clayton Jensen opened the doors of Valley Custom they concentrated on keeping things subtle, simple, and most importantly, classy.

Yet as things progressed, the legacy of Valley Custom took an ironic turn. Sure, classy was always at the forefront, but most remember Emory and Jensen for perfecting the art of what is the most complicated and drastic custom measure one can take: sectioning. Their sectioning legacy began with a ’Ford convertible and reached its height with the iconic ’Oldsmobile Holiday 88, known as the ”. In 1953 the Polynesian hit the pages of Hot Rod and R&C in a series of stories documenting the section. Long story short, those pages and Valley Custom brought the art of sectioning to the custom world and it has since stayed. Read more »