Each year we blow up our social media feeds with our favorite vehicles from SEMA. This year we decided we’d take it a step further and give the owners and builders of some of our favorite vehicles notoriety for their hard work. After some brainstorming, the Eastwood “Hands-On” Awards were born. The idea behind these awards are to recognize some of the standout vehicles from the show. We judged on a number of factors from quality of work, execution of concept, and just outright ridiculousness of the finished product. Really, the car needed to have something “special” to catch our eyes and earn the award. We’ll admit we leaned heavily on the smaller shops and DIY builders that didn’t have a million dollar dream team of employees and tools to finish the car, there’s plenty of awards out there for those guys!
The first award we gave out was “Best Rubber Wrap or Coating”. Rubber wraps are blowing up in the DIY automotive aftermarket, so we decided to find the most unique execution of a rubber wrap at SEMA 2014. The winner, by far, was John Gilbert with his Speedway “Tribute-T” with an intricate Elastiwrap pearl-metallic lace scheme that was an obvious throwback to his days as a custom painter in the chopper and kustom world. The layout and execution of the panels on the vehicle took around 60 hours and really warps your mind when he tells you what all went into getting this crazy effect! This is not for the beginner, but we love when guys and gals push the boundaries with our products! John told us that this was a cheap, low-risk way to see if he liked this color and lace scheme on the car before he did it with a permanent paint. Now all he has to do is peel the ElastiWrap off and he can start sanding panels in anticipation for paint! Congrats John, you really blew everyone out of the water in your class!
When it comes to HIGH END paint work and ridiculous custom paint layouts, Steve DeMan is one of the best out there. We couldn’t stop breaking our necks every time we walked by this ’59 Chevy that he gave his custom layout and paint touches to! The ghost graphics and mile deep gloss paint just blew our minds! Congrats Steve!
Best Fabrication is an insanely difficult one to judge and while there were shops with insane race cars, trucks and street rods, we were drawn to Chris Daley and TP Certified Hot Rods highly customized truck over and over again. This truck was the epitome of what we’re about, total DIY project dreamed up and executed for the love of the hobby. Chris is about the most low-key humble guy we’ve met. While interviewing Chris, he talked about the work it took to cram a highly polished rotary air-cooled airplane engine in as if it was a SBC swap… right, just toss it in! The reality is that the planning required to cram this thing in the truck AND allow that everything can close up like stock was a feat of its own! On top of the obvious ridiculous drivetrain swap, Chris designed and built his own rear suspension, changed the angle of the front end a few degrees, extended the hood, suicided the doors, built a custom dash, and designed and built his own wheels for the truck! This is just scratching the surface, we could look over the truck for hours and see new modifications!
Our last award was for YOU to decide and select the winner. We chose 10 of our favorite rides from setup day at SEMA and let you choose your favorite for the Customer Choice award. I’m glad to see that everyone is on the same page as me when you picked MY favorite vehicle as well! The winner was one of the the sexiest customized 30’s Packards I’ve ever seen. The father and sons combo, called G3 Rods, built this all by themselves and showed the true meaning of restraint when customizing the car. The big thing I liked was that the majority of the parts on the car were the original Packard parts they just massaged, smoothed, and blended to just improve upon the original shape and lines of the car. I literally gasped when I walked up on the car and saw that side profile. Talk about FLOW! It really is a breath of fresh air, at the SEMA Show, to see a car that draws attention like this car did without an obnoxious paint scheme, a loud radio, or a half naked model laying across the hood. We hope more people start taking notes from guys like Jay and co. at G3 Rods and start building and customizing vehicles from outside the normal “Big Three”! Great job guys!
Thanks to everyone that chatted with us about their vehicles during judging and all of you out there that helped us pick our customer pick award, we couldn’t do it without you!