2012 Speedhunters Awards: Builder Of The Year

Next up in the 2012 Speedhunters Awards – Builder of the Year. This category is for those individuals or shops that have carried great influence in their corners of the automotive world over the past year. As with all of the categories, coming up with the nominees was not an easy task. In order to keep things on a fairly even playing field, we’ve defined “builder” as an individual or private shop which builds modified, show, custom, track or grassroots race or drift cars. For that reason you won’t see OEM or top level motorsport “builders” such as Red Bull Racing’s Adrian Newey in this list.

With that said, let’s begin with nominees.

Nigel Petrie

The most recent update from Nigel’s Toyota Hilux build has been very popular in terms of views and feedback. With a brilliant mix of style, functionality, and uniqueness in this build it should be no surprise that Nigel is on this list.

Kei Miura

In many ways of 2012 has been the year of the Rocket Bunny. Kei Miura of TRA Kyoto was well known long before this year, but with the introduction of his Rocket Bunny aero for the Toyota 86 and Scion FR-S, his recognition level has climbed to the stratosphere. If that wasn’t enough, there’s all the designing work he’s done for other names like BenSopra and Liberty Walk.

Liberty Walk Kato-San

Speaking of Liberty Walk, Kato-san is another one who had a big year in 2012. Whether it’s for his outrageous takes on the Lamborghini or his collection of vintage Japanese machinery, there’s no denying the influence here.

Keith Charvonia

It’s impossible to be inspired by the quality of work and vision seen on Keith’s Drag’n Kaiser build. Not only did we get to see the finished product in detail, but we also got to see the build unfold in his series of guest blogs.

Under Suzuki

Privately built and driven with 53 second lap times at Tsukuba? What more needs to be said? This year Suzuki-san further cemented himself as a Time Attack hero.

SO-CAL Speed Shop

Among SO-CAL Speed Shop’s accomplishments this year are the America’s Most Beautiful Roadster winning Indy Speedster, and the beautiful Coyote-powered ’32 Roadster that appeared at the SEMA Show.

Bisimoto

Honda and Porsche couldn’t be further apart, but Bisi has managed to work his magic on both. His wild turbocharged 911  is surely one of the year’s most memorable feature cars.

Eckert’s Rod & Custom

Sometimes it takes just a single machine to put a builder on the map, and that’s certainly the case with Eckert’s Rod & Custom and their “Mach 40″ project which was one of the most talked about cars at SEMA this year,

Fredric Aasbo

Can a pro driver be an influential builder at the same time? Absolutely. Just look at Fredric Aasbo, who managed to build the 86-X in a very short time all while competing in drift events half a world away.

Daigo Saito

Daigo Saito shook up the drifting world by winning the Formula Drift championship with his Lexus SC430 – a build which is a direct product of his years of drifting experience and worthy enough to get him a spot on this list.

Mad Mike Whiddett

Rounding out our trio of drifter/car builders is Mad Mike himself. No stranger to creating impressive drift cars, Mike debuted his revamped Badbul RX-8 this year with his typical sense of wide and low car style.

Nino Karotta

I don’t think anyone will question Nino Karotta of Hungary being on this list after they read the story behind his amazing Datsun S30 build.

 Singer Vehicle Design

Porsche fans may be facing a tough decision here with two P-car specialists on the list. First we have Singer Vehicle Design and their amazing modernized take on the classic 911.

 Magnus Walker

Then of course there’s Mr. Magnus Walker , who shows us an equally passionate take on the original 911.

Andrew Brilliant

Last but not least we have Andrew Brilliant, the aerodynamicist behind Nemo – the Evo that dominated this year’s World Time Attack Challenge.

-Mike

[polldaddy poll="6770432"]

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81 comments

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1

Went with Kei because I love the Rocket bunny kits on everything. But a close second was Keith and Magnus. Keith's car looks amazing, and the old school lowered cars are awesome. And Magnus is just a true car gut through and through, and how he built up what he has is amazing.

2

Went with Kei because I love the Rocket bunny kits on everything. But a close second was Keith and Magnus. Keith's car looks amazing, and the old school lowered cars are awesome. And Magnus is just a true car gut through and through, and how he built up what he has is amazing.

3

I voted Andrew Brilliant I read an in depth feature on the car on moto iq and the aero and setup on the car is just so crazy

4

Love the Rocket Bunny kits, but that car should not be on this list for a kit alone (yeah I get that is was also lowered and has wheels). That is not a "built" car.

5

ETS !!!!

6

I realize Kei Miura has had a huge influence on the import scene this year, as seen at SEMA (and even on Liberty Walk's Murci which I think should be grouped together with TRA-Kyoto). However, a lot of the influence just seems to be exterior styling and while I like his creations and could see myself borrowing some elements for my own car someday, I feel a builder of the year should be more meaningful than just styling.
 
Magnus Walker is also a popular choice that I considered. Reading about him on Speedhunters and watching his videos on Leno/Urban Outlaw made me appreciate older Porsches even more. He's cut from a different cloth than other Porsche owners and I liken him a lot to Nakai-san/RWB, although a bit more purist but equally dedicated and detail-oriented. They both have got an insane collection of Porsches, track/race their creations, building a strong following locally and now around the world, don't conform to the typical Porsche owner look, and take great liberties at expressing themselves through their cars.
 
I also admire the technical applications and expertise behind the NEMO EVO, but ultimately I feel that that car, while pushing the limits of time attack, are also corrupting the grassroots nature of WTAC. It doesn't connect with me on an emotional level, and that has maybe more to do with WTAC not separating NEMO into its own class with other truly "unlimited" budget builds. This may not be logical to some of you, but for me, the NEMO doesn't do anything because I feel it is another level removed from a stock car than other WTAC entrants. It's impressive to have laid down those times and break those records, but I feel like it just isn't the same. it's like seeing a DTM car blast around...it's not exactly of the same spirit as the other cars. Or, it's almost like comparing Pikes Peak records being broken between years that had more and more tarmac laid out...you almost expect a record to be broken with that kind of handicap advantage over others. 
 
For me, the builder that has struck a chord with me the most is Under Suzuki's S15. The recent coverage on his Tsukuba lap highlights his persistence and determination, consistently evolving and tuning the car to reach the level it is at. I also am inspired that Suzuki is no professional driver, and that he builds the car and drove all the laps himself (unlike other teams that hire professional guns). He is a regular salaryman with a day job, and commits his free time to his hobby of time attack. This is something I hope I can do too.

7

Nigel Petrie's hilux is a definition of a build. not slapping on a body kit and engine swap, But actually building something from the ground up.

8

I have much respect for everyone listed there, but I had to go with Nigel and his drift truck for the incredible amount of effort, skill, and insanity/ambition he's putting into it.

9

It was another hard choice with so many great builders but I've gone with Nigel. Love all the engineering that's gone into the Hilux plus he's local.

10

Funny how NEMO was referred to here as "the Evo that dominated this year’s World Time Attack Challenge"; yet it wasn't even nominated under "Competition Car of 2012"...much to many readers' dismay.
 
As far as builder, I'll take Nigel. That truck is ridiculous!

11

Good to see Nigel taking it so far, that build is NUTS. I love what Kei Miura does but I personally don't think he should take this category. The Singer cars are beautiful also.

12

NIgel gets my vots...  such an in depth garage/budget build, pushing the absolute boundaries of engineering and personal persistance!  with nemo closely behind!!

13

Nigel hands down!! amazing quality back yard build. Oh and hes Ozzy!

14

Hand built piece of genius that is Nigel's Hilux.. All done from home on a budget piece by piece.. This guy has a massive future in Motorsport engineering..

15

hard decision between the 240Z and the TA silvia...

16

truck build hands down

17

Why not Nemo Racing team? The owner and his team of engineers and fabricators don't get the credit?

18

OMG Mike Garrett, you put a $20,000 built (Nigel's Hilux) again's Mr. Eaton's Lan EVO NEMO which costs roughly $300,000????
If money wasn't an issue for most builders, we would witness Christmas EVERY damn day!!!!!

19

I dunno how Ken Muira's is classed a build?

20

@manekineko Chris Eaton and his crew definitely need recognition for their outstanding job! With that said, NEMO is one expensive bitch!
Other builders can only dream about the budget Mr. Eaton forked out!

21

How is Kei Miura's classed as build? its just a kit with few extras

22

Singer Porsche, everything else is tasteless

23

a thought for a future poll...an i can't choose option! i feel i'm not the only one!

24

First I want to say thank you so much to Speedhunters and to everyone who is voting for me, but I just want to say that in no way can I ever take credit for the Nemo build.  I had the easy job with designing the aero and so much hard work happened at the workshops.  I have to give the credit to the team.  If one man could really be the center of it all, it should definitely be Chris Eaton.  He was not just a guy footing the bill... he was in every last detail of that build.

25

I`m only one who vote SO-CAL Speed Shop? Sad.

26

Nigel Petrie is not just a car builder, he also encourage average Joe's to have fun building not just your own car, weather its a race car, bike, trailer, garage or things you might need in building any kind of thing, in a very meticulous, professional, & well think'ed manner. All things had been planned accordingly  from the biggest to the smallest detail's. Everyone will agree that Nigel's backyard Drift builds specially the hilux is going to be at the top of the list..

28

Voted for Keith, but I wish I could've voted for Nigel, Nino or Suzuki

29

All of these builds are just so good. Voted for Nino, советская солидарность что ли :) although as a Honda owner Bisimoto also seems like a very charismatic builder

30

@swerv13 Miura's other cars are also a big factor in his nomination. He has had a massive influence on a shift in thinking on S chassis style over the past few years.

31

@ToneDiez a controversy this year definitely. We've taken note of the response :)

32

@afrigginperson look at what he does as a whole including all he has done to influence a new direction for S Chassis around the world too.

33

Voted for Singer Porsche (the perfect porsche build IMHO) but that Hilux Nigel built to such a level in his spare time... Epic!

34

My favorite are Under Suzuki and Magnus Walker, love Suzuki-san character but i love classic Porsche more

35

@JDMized  @manekineko As racecars go $300k is not very expensive. Keep in mind there is a business plan behind NEMO and other pure race builds, where there may not be (outwardly) on an enthusiast build that creates on a more restricted budget.

36

I think that part of a great build is it's ability to open a new door for enthusiasts. And in that respect, I will personally vote Bisimoto. There are very few builds that I see that have me on eBay and BAT shortly there after, wondering if I can shoehorn an old piece into the garage in hopes of one day bringing it to the level the builder has set. Without the Bisi Porsche being featured earlier in the year, I may have looked over the features on Magnus Walker entirely. The insanity that is Nigel's Hilux is basically 1b. Very tough poll.

37

@Mitchell Rowe Pushing the limits of engineering? It is a tubular space frame chassis (1950's technology) employing the same basic suspension principles as any tube frame racecar. This is not rocket science, it is just the application of a body shell to what is essentially a dated platform. Also not sure why everyone thinks he's just some guy in a garage, there's a business plan behind the build regardless of the shoestring budget.
 
Having said that I still voted for him. The build quality and application are nice.

38

Where's the pikes peak NSX??

39

Vote for Nino, love the idea of his race car. Looks like a Bob Sharp's Datsun while the maintenance and consumabels are not too expensive. Love the story behind it too.

40

All great builds with crazy talent, but the story behind Keith Charvonia's build was epic! Gets my vote hands down

41

All great but I have to go with the drift Hilux

42

just a perception: not all the nominees are car builders, a few "just" the owner and customer of a real builder... that's a big difference imho

43

@GregSampson  Is there a business plan behind everything for you? You have made the same statement on Nigel Petrie & NEMO and they are valid points if there is little information, i mean how could these people afford to build these one-off creations on a regular job? But you are wrong. Nigel Petrie works at Ford, in a regular 9-5 position, sure, he sells a few products on the side every now and then, but his main source of income would have to be his 9-5 job. If you have followed his Hilux build from the first post you would know that he had little experience in building a car from scratch, he wanted to build a perfect drift car, and in order to do that he decided that the best way to do it is from the ground up, based around something unique. A Hilux. Did his bottom line drive him to do this? No. His passion did. Chris Eaton is an entrepreneur, and i'm fairly certain that he doesn't own a custom shop to build his car in. Sure, he makes money elsewhere, he might not work a 9-5 job like everyone else, but the one thing (again if you have followed the build right through) that drove him to build NEMO, was his passion. Before NEMO he went out on track days and raced, his started driving performance cars until he craved something faster, something more, I think his last track car before NEMO was a Porsche, possibly the epitomy of all track day cars. So how do you beat a Porsche as a track day car. Build your own. As the saying goes, when in Rome...
Sure, money is a driving factor in all builds, that has never been in question, but if there is a business plan behind these two cars, why has Nigel been in the build for 2 years (i think) and still not completed, surely that isn't a very good business plan right there? Why did Chris Eaton decide to throw hundreds of thousands of dollars at NEMO in a very short period of time with no visible return on investment in the future? That doesn't sound like a solid business plan either. But it sure as sh*t sounds like these two blokes have a truck load of passion for their builds, and that is the reason why they are on this list in the first place.

44

under suzuki, definitely. what a boss

45

@Andrew Brilliant Fantastic response from a Brilliant builder. Always bugs me when credit isn't given properly. Too many on this very list owe the entirety of the build to unnamed workhorses.

46

Seriously one of the hardest categories in this years vote. Everyone on this list deserves to be on it.
Just being nominated would be equivalent to winning.

47

@GregSampson 
I like you. 
You're smart

48

Nino for sure thats got to be the best build ive layed my eyes on

49

lol @ nino going from zero to leading from nowhere... That's not strange at all.

50

drift hi lux for me, bolting an a body kit and some lowered suspension isn't BUILDING a car imoh. top work wish I had 10% of his talent

51

I gotta give this one to Under Suzuki. He doesn't work at a shop or make millions, he's just an average office worker who's built an incredibly fast machine. That's incredibly inspirational. The other builders are incredible, too. Singer Vehicle Design, Kei Miura, Mad Mike,, Bisi, all of them have put together unbelievable machines.

52

Wow, and apparently I like using the word "incredible" a lot.

53

speaking of bulids.....what happened to the special Yellow R34 that was going to the bonneville salt flats??
did we see it completed?

54

So close for many of the guys but had to give it to Nigel and his Drift Hilux.  Guy isn't a workshop, just a drifter who intends on building his dream drift ride and building it from scratch and documenting it for the world to see (and criticise).  Love it!

55

Every build is really, REALLY amazing here, but I have to give mine to Nino. What makes this car really exceptional for me is that I follow his weekly updates in his blog for years by now. I've read all his problems, struggles and all the hard times he went through while creating this incredible drift/track car. It is a great read for car enthusiasts like us all and (let's say) a great learning course as well... he not just shares his story, he writes detailed explanations/calculations about suspension geometry, aero basics, exhaust systems, ackermann steering etc etc... just a few examples from many...
This guy is a complete nerd, his passion is really inspirational, his efforts to share it with the whole world is really honorable... following him and seeing his dream coming true along the years make me feel really close to this project... so big up for Nino and for his engineer/mechanic PWRacing Áki!

56

Yes,Nino is a nerd but he is not building his car he is paying someone to do the work what he could not do on his own so I don't know what is he doing in this competition...

57

nino is a very well known automotive journalist in hungary. He is also the co-host of TotalCar, the leading car show here. they have 26k likes on facebook and this poll just got a share. So as you say, not strange at all :)
You could argue, that it's not fair to use your fanbase to promote a poll, but then again, which poll is fair.

58

@Visitor16
partly agree with you, but Nino is definitely not just a customer who pays the bill at the end. His touch is really there on this car, he is a really important part of the process and the whole build (not just because every peace of the design and every detail of the idea comes from his mind).
But it is true that actually he is not the one who turned the screws. I don't know what makes you a rightful nominee in this category (should the car be made in your own garage? how much percent of the job needs to be done by your own hands?), but I don't think Nino would be the only one in this list with a mechanic/engineer beside him.
The efforts (and I don't mean financial efforts) he have put into this project makes him a real builder in my eyes. Even tho he is really not the one who turned the screws as I just said above. It is a ten year long story. You can't believe Nino is only a customer...
 
Last but not least. If you say you would be much more OK if not only Nino but Áki and Nino would be named and nominated together, or it should not be builder of the year, but build of the year contest, I would say I agree with you. But in my point of view this does not change too much. It is an exceptional build, and this is what counts to me at the end.

59

@Visitor16
partly agree with you, but Nino is definitely not just a customer who pays the bill at the end. His touch is really there on this car, he is a really important part of the process and the whole build (not just because every peace of the design and every detail of the idea comes from his mind).
But it is true that actually he is not the one who turned the screws. I don't know what makes you a rightful nominee in this category (should the car be made in your own garage? how much percent of the job needs to be done by your own hands?), but I don't think Nino would be the only one in this list with a mechanic/engineer beside him.
The efforts (and I don't mean financial efforts) he have put into this project makes him a real builder in my eyes. Even tho he is really not the one who turned the screws as I just said above. It is a ten year long story. You can't believe Nino is only a customer...
 
Last but not least. If you say you would be much more OK if not only Nino but Áki and Nino would be named and nominated together, or it should not be builder of the year, but build of the year contest, I would say I agree with you. But in my point of view this does not change too much. It is an exceptional build, and this is what counts to me at the end. Without Áki it would not actually be a car, but without Nino and his story it would not be as interresting as it is.

60

Nigel Petrie..  Hands down.  I've watched the build unfold through ETS since the first parts of the frame were welded together.  The craftsmanship, attention to detail, and the fact that he's done 99% of the build work himself helps.  If he doesn't win it'd be a shame.

61

Nigel Petrie..  Hands down.  I've watched the build unfold through ETS since the first parts of the frame were welded together.  The craftsmanship, attention to detail, and the fact that he's done 99% of the build work himself helps.  If he doesn't win it'd be a shame.

62

Nigel Petrie..  Hands down.  I've watched the build unfold through ETS since the first parts of the frame were welded together.  The craftsmanship, attention to detail, and the fact that he's done 99% of the build work himself helps.  If he doesn't win it'd be a shame.

63

@koob_hu Áki is the third mechanic in the third workshop who is working on the car and I would except at least 10% of the work being done by the "builder". I do believe it is a great shame to be nominated in this contest specially compared to other competitors such as Nigel Petrie.

64

Nemo, Nemo, Nemo.... because Downforce

65

@Visitor16 The voting seems to be a two horse race now...

66

As Much as i love Fredrics car and the drag'n Kaizer, i have to say Nigels truck takes first price for me....

67

BUILDER OF THE YEAR.. Not decorated like a cake..There is only one true car builder here..NIGEL PETRIE..

68

@regno This is a different crowd and besides, winning the AMBR is as good as it gets.  It's hilarious to me that readers on this site overlook them as a builder.

69
JeanPaulFondeurGil

Singer Vehicle Design is vastly underrated. Way more professional and clean than most anything else on here...

70

@JeanPaulFondeurGil So Cal Speedshop?

71

u should check Nino Karotta too :)

73

nigel. hands down. no contest. he's a one man show, building an s13 coupe, an s13 hatch, a tube-chassis hilux, and a sweet motorbike all at the same time! he has incredible attention to detail AND he drives the piss out of his cars. win/win.

74

Under Suzuki. How can you not admire the man! He has a daytime job and built his car as a hobby, managed to turn in impressive results on the car and new records on the track. Probably not the most admirable builder in terms of aesthetics, but he definitely deserves the "Best Speedhunter" award... Because that's what speedhunting is about!

75

Under Suzuki. How can you not admire the man! He has a daytime job and built his car as a hobby, managed to turn in impressive results on the car and new records on the track. Probably not the most admirable builder in terms of aesthetics, but he definitely deserves the "Best Speedhunter" award... Because that's what speedhunting is about!

76

Under Suzuki. How can you not admire the man! He has a daytime job and built his car as a hobby, managed to turn in impressive results on the car and new records on the track. Probably not the most admirable builder in terms of aesthetics, but he definitely deserves the "Best Speedhunter" award... Because that's what speedhunting is about!

77

Nigel - The attention to detail and engineering put into the hilux hands down best build of the year.

78

nino is has payed people to do everything, he's not a builder at all. nigel is very much more dedicated, building a motorbike and car at once himself with amazing attention to detail and skills.

79

Nigel all the way!!!!!!, his fabrication skills are out of this world. so much detail has been put into his work.....

80

Karotta's Datsun, of course :)

81

Nigel Petrie, kei miura and madd mike <3

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