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Engineered for Excellence: Custom Cars of Dream Machines

Unique elements wowed car owners, aficionados and collectors alike.

At the Dream Machines show earlier this month, thousands of vehicles including cars, airplanes, and motorcycles showed themselves as tribute to over one hundred years of engineering excellence. Walking among so many cars, it was evident that some car aficionados were taking this excellence to the next level.

Men and women of all ages relaxed in the sun and discussed their passion for cars. Once a curious passerby approached a car owner, conversation flowed.

Ted Warner of Eldorado Hills has a 1967, and a 2008 Corvette, but these are not two separate cars. At first glance, it looks like an average red Stingray from the Golden Age of American cars, but take a closer look and the little changes like three piston calipers, a flat single exhaust coming out the back, and an LS3 motor sitting in the engine bay, are quite noticeable. Ted's car was built in Iowa by Karl Kustom Corvettes. It is the body of a 1967 Stingray, covering the chassis and technology of a 2008 Corvette Convertible.

The LS3 motor produces 430 brake horsepower. In a car that weighs just over 3,000 lbs that's not bad. Of course, some might say it's not keeping the spirit of the Corvette. 1967 or 2008, it's still 100% Corvette.“The fun is in the driving,” Ted said. He wanted the “technology of a new car with the look of an old car.” Innovation is key. Ted has captured the spirit of hot rodding.

In keeping with the spirit of going not entirely nor insignificantly unorthodox, James Moore of Half Moon Bay has been coming to the Dream Machines for twenty-three years, and is the only one at the show with a 1969 Aston Martin DBS, cradling a Chevrolet 454.

James bought his Aston Martin in 1987 after it had been donated to Stanford, and has since restored it. John calls his car -- previously owned by Jefferson Airplane singer Grace Slick -- an “ongoing project.”

James laughed when asked if anyone gets offended by the American powerhouse he has in his British classic. “The British guys are the ones who get offended,” James said. “I just tell them to get their inline 6 motors on the strip and we'll see what happens then.”

Traditionally, the '69 DBS came with a 4.0L, dual overhead cam, straight 6 cylinder engine. That's almost 300 brake horsepower, but in a car that weighs almost 4,000 pounds, it's a little on the low side. James' car now has a Chevrolet single cam 454 V8 pulling the rear wheels of the DBS. Although it is less technologically advanced, it puts out over one hundred horsepower more than the straight six, and displaces 7.4 liters. “There is no replacement for displacement,” James said.

Dream Machines has one thing missing, that being, the nautical side of automobiles. However John Allen of Saratoga, hasn't let that slide.

John's car requires an absolute minimum of two glances to really see what it truly is. It doesn't really have a name. In fact, one of the only things a person can say about it is that it's amazing. John calls it a Model T Ford Speedster with a mahogany boat tail, but the license plate summed it up, reading “BOATSTR.”

“I did everything myself,” John said. “It took me about a year.”

The wooden body is pulled by a modified Model T Inline 4 engine, producing 40 horsepower. That's 15 up from it's stock design. “[You] feel like you're gonna be ejected out of it,” John said. “It picks up.” His goal was to get the same feeling as when driving wooden European cars. “I wanted to keep the spirit of the wooden cars that they drove around in Europe.” Seeing John's car, he has accomplished that, and much more. He has built not a Ford, nor a Chevy, but his own car.

At Dream Machines, it was clear that to many, any kind of car is possible.


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