While discussing possible ideas for my 2011 contributions to Build Month, Charles proposed that I could piece together a post highlighting the 'Best Builds of 2010', so I've been digging through my archives and statistics to find which builds drew the most attention in the year just past. I've also included a few teasers of some upcoming content for 2011 as a little treat that you'll find after the jump. On with the show…
First up we have the hybrid creation known as the Volksrod (or Lexibug) , which earns it's moniker from the combination of a hot-rodded Volkswagen Beetle receiving it's driving force from a Lexus V8 powerplant.
The project started out with a regular Beetle shell in a very bare state, but condition wasn't an important factor since some serious cutting was soon to be in order to give it that hot rod look.
A custom RHS chassis was built from scratch for the shell to sit on, with raised sections at the each end to get the body sitting nice and low, just the way we like it.
Back to the shell, it was time for the modifications to begin, with the main focal points being the severely chopped roof and lack of any metalwork forward of the A-pillars. Notice all the metal rods tacked inside the shell, this provides bracing and ensures the body doesn't tweak when the roof is temporarily removed.
With the body sitting atop the chassis and some fat wheels bolted on, the vision of the project starts to take shape. The icing on the cake is the rare oval rear window section that was grafted on.
If you prefer fabrication to body mods, then check out these elaborate mounts that were conjured up to mount the body to the chassis. There are many more trick mods like this in the full build thread, so click here to read up on it.
Another popular build from 2010 was also a mix-&-match project, Bob's MX520, a Datsun 520 pickup with an NA MX5 engine/gearbox/suspension package swapped in. Starting with a stock 520, the driveline was removed to make room for the Mazda replacements.
Instead of simply making some custom mounts to hold the new engine in place, the whole front crossmember was modified to fit under the Datsun, including the struts, suspension arms and hubs. Parts of the Mazda firewall and floorpan were even welded in.
It's a similar story for the back end, where more custom work was undertaken to house the complete rear crossmember from the donor Miata.
After a lot of measuring, cutting, and welding, you end up with a Datsun 520 with an MX5 engine, gearbox, diff, steering and suspension.
With everything bolted in and wired up, the MX520 was ready to hit the track and surprise many unsuspecting people.
Once the car proved itself mechanically, it was taken back off the road to receive a fresh lick of paint, giving the outside a finish to match the awesomeness of what's hiding underneath. To read the complete story of how this pickup was built (and see some burnout videos!), click here .
This next build earned it's spot on the radar due to it's peculiar engine swap. The last few years have seen a massive surge in Chevrolet V8s being swapped into many different platforms, one of those being Mazda RX7s, so to see someone doing the exact opposite caught a lot of people's attention.
That's right, a Chevy Nova was the recipient of the Mazda 13B turbo rotary engine you see above. Even if you don't agree with the swap, you have to love the irony and individuality.
Even though the small size of the 13B might make things seem easy in the engine bay, there's still plenty of custom one-off work that needs doing, such as engine mounts, intake plumbing, intercooler placement, oil pan, exhaust manifold and countless other items.
The above image highlights two key elements of the car, one being the striking Lotus Exige orange hue, and the other being the extreme lengths the owner went to lighten the car, the aim being 2700lbs.
How do you like them welds?
One thing I've come to notice about peoples reactions to various projects is that if the build follows a well trodden path, you hear complaints about it being like every other car. Or, if it's something out of the ordinary they might question the builders motives and say "Why didn't they just buy X-car in the first place?". Personally I think unorthodox projects like these are awesome, we need more people out there willing to do something completely different, regardless of the outcome, just for the sake of building something that no one else has. If you share my views then you should click here to read about this one-of-a-kind Nova in full detail.
The most popular build of 2010, by a long shot, wasn't even a car, it was a garage, and there's a pretty good chance you're already familiar with it. Once the Garage Condo was featured, the hits just kept piling up, and news of the project spread like wild fire. You can understand why, since a decked out space like this is probably every car lovers dream dwelling.
Like any building, things had to start off with a plan. Keen eyes will notice the upper level blueprint to the right of the image.
From plan to reality, you can see the internal structure starting to take shape, with plenty of insulation stuffed into the walls for those cold winter months.
With some plaster on the walls, the overall look, feel and scale of the garage started to come together. The area under the mezzanine is where the tool cabinets will call home.
What kind of ultimate man cave would be complete without a gaming rig? The warm flooring on the upper level gives off a homely feel, a stark contrast to the utilitarian concrete in the working area downstairs.
The completed garage is nothing short of amazing, and with the owner building a Factory Five Cobra in there, you can take solace knowing it's being put to good use. To get the full lowdown on the build of both the garage and the Cobra, click here .
So now that we're up to speed, who's interested in what's coming this year?
You'll find these projects, and many more, on Build-Threads throughout 2011. Many thanks again go out to the Speedhunters team for allowing me the privilege of guest-posting for the second year in a row.