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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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,
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 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.
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.
Then of course there’s Mr. Magnus Walker , who shows us an equally passionate take on the original 911.
Last but not least we have Andrew Brilliant, the aerodynamicist behind Nemo – the Evo that dominated this year’s World Time Attack Challenge.
Nigel all the way!!!!!!, his fabrication skills are out of this world. so much detail has been put into his work.....
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.
Nigel - The attention to detail and engineering put into the hilux hands down best build of the year.
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!
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.
Nino Karotta Datsun first drive http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P48YWVj0ouE&feature=player_embedded
Singer Vehicle Design is vastly underrated. Way more professional and clean than most anything else on here...
BUILDER OF THE YEAR.. Not decorated like a cake..There is only one true car builder here..NIGEL PETRIE..
As Much as i love Fredrics car and the drag'n Kaizer, i have to say Nigels truck takes first price for me....
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.
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...
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!
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!
speaking of bulids.....what happened to the special Yellow R34 that was going to the bonneville salt flats??
did we see it completed?
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.
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
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.
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
All great builds with crazy talent, but the story behind Keith Charvonia's build was epic! Gets my vote hands down
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.
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.
My favorite are Under Suzuki and Magnus Walker, love Suzuki-san character but i love classic Porsche more
Voted for Singer Porsche (the perfect porsche build IMHO) but that Hilux Nigel built to such a level in his spare time... Epic!
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
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..
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.
@JeanPaulFondeurGil So Cal Speedshop?
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.
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.
@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.
@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.
@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.
@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.
@Visitor16 The voting seems to be a two horse race now...