Have We Seen It All?

Hello, again. It’s been a while.

Because of how we planned and scheduled a lot of the content you may have seen over the holiday period, it’s actually been nearly a month since I last sat down in front of a screen, specifically to write for you. That’s meant that there has been a lot of free time to actually go out and do car stuff, without the obligation to write about it afterwards.

I love cars; they’re pretty much my only real vice. I love them all, regardless of power or vintage. Often, I find the most enjoyable drives come from the cars you least expect, slow cars especially. There’s a lot to be said about that age-old adage of it being better to drive a slow car fast, than a fast car slow. It’s always been this way; I can’t remember a time when cars weren’t a huge part of my life. Deciding to try and make a career out of this passion was pretty much the easiest decision I ever had to make.

While doing what you love might be the best job in the world, this doesn’t always equate to it being the easiest. Sure, it does makes the tough days and long hours that little bit easier to swallow. There are certainly enough of those to go around, anyways. There is one major risk you run though when you turn your passion into a career: souring what you love and losing the feeling that made it special in the first place. For anyone who has loved cars all their life, they should never feel ordinary.

2017 Seen It All Before Editorial by Pady McGrath-1

I’ve always worked hard to ensure that this doesn’t happen to me, although I feel that I’ve gotten close on a couple of occasions. Typically, I try to ensure that I spend time either driving or working on my car for no other reason than I want to. Similarly, I try to spend time with my friends, hanging out and driving aimlessly. No ulterior motives, no cameras, no work, just cars. These are the solutions that work best for me. Another one, which I try not to rely on, is articulating how I feel about something in writing. This is why I’m here today.

To cut right to it, I can’t remember the last car or build that truly excited me. The sort of car that leaves you completely breathless and stays in your mind for days or even weeks upon end. A build which just gets under your skin and just makes you happy.

Growing up, in my teenage years in particular, was probably the peak of Max Power magazine. Sure, time hasn’t been kind to the cars we associate with this era, but some of those cars left an impression that still sticks with me. Carisma’s TVR Cerbera out of the UK is one example of a car I adored back in the day. It was wild, it was fast and it was the type of car that you could only dream about owning as a kid. I remember seeing it on the cover of Max Power for the first time and just being completely blown away. I must have read the feature a thousand times and poured over every photo twice as many times again. I kept a copy of the magazine in my backpack amongst my school books for what must have been a year. I never got to see the car in person – which might be for the best – but I can’t deny the impression it left on my 14-year-old self.

I think the last time I started to feel that level of excitement seeping through was when the first of the Rocket Bunny and Liberty Walk cars started to appear, but their novelty has long since worn off for me. I still think they’re cool, but constant exposure to them has ensured that they never reached that next level for me. More traditional builds, which might pay respect to a car’s heritage and follow well-worn paths more often than not deserve respect, but they’re nothing we haven’t seen before.

Indeed, some looks and styles are timeless, we can probably never have enough of them, but they just don’t inspire. It’s just the same recipe repeated again and again. Sometimes people will do something that’s unheard of in their locality, but it’s likely something that has been seen before elsewhere.

2017 Seen It All Before Editorial by Pady McGrath-7

Maybe the internet and social media play a role in this, but they seem like the easy ones to blame. In saying that, I do think that I appreciated the sudden impact of a magazine cover every month with a brand new set of cars to look at, rather than seeing every nut and bolt being documented on Instagram months or even years before a car is finished. At the other end of the scale, you almost expect a car to have a wild engine or drivetrain swap. I like to call this the Gatebil Effect, where one must assume that the car has 2,000hp from a triple-charged, piston converted rotary unless proven otherwise. Have we just been exposed to too much of a good thing?

None of this takes away from the respect that I have for the aforementioned cars and those who build them. Truth be told, once a guy or girl somewhere is building a car for themselves and themselves alone, we’ve nothing to fear. Still, I am quietly hoping that someone, somewhere is going to do something that’s going to blow us all away.

The question is, will it happen in 2017?

Paddy McGrath
Instagram: pmcgphotos
Twitter: pmcgphotos



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What will happen in 2017, is one of the most Unique Car Builds, combining different ideas from different styles of Customization.
I have never seen anything like what I am doing to my car. Expected time to show off custom body work and motor- Late 2017, Expected time to have everything (interior, and other minor adjustments) done - mid/late 2018
Chassis/Body: 1987 Ford Sierra 5dr Hatch
Engine: 1978 Ford 'Essex' 3L V6 with a "special extremely uncommon modification (Which I have never seen on SpeedHunters)" and other common modifications
Gearbox: Standard 5 Speed Sierra Gearbox
Paintwork: Satin Grey Paint with Reflective Black Vinyl, and Matte/Flat Black "Accessories"
Bodywork: Custom (TBA)
Interior: TBA
Sound System: Custom (TBA)
Follow me Instagram For Sneak Peeks: https://www.instagram.com/netavoric/


I really wonder what could change for 2017, because you're right, engine swaps, coilovers, and fender flares will only take you so far. My twin brother and I plan to work on our 2000 New Edge Mustang GT, but we're drawing blanks as to what we should do next for the project.


maybe it's me - but I'm not looking forward to anything blowing me away - I'm just looking forward to something being interesting - which a lot of cars just aren't - the builds are all so similar - and I think I've honestly gone to the "less is more" way of thinking more often than not.... and maybe my car won't set the internet on fire......... and maybe the internet needs to be set on fire....... **and burned to the ground** LMAO.....


The last build that got me going was the last Porsche magnus released. From then I haven't seen much else. Maybe this year I'll finish my project which I know will reignite that spark but until then I am not feeling it either.


I still owe the magazine of the first car I ever really loved and that was the RE-Amemiya rx7. Can't believe it's been 11years that I've held onto this. I'm currently proud to be a rx7 owner and for 2017 I'm awaiting a particular build in the rotary community.


The Ronin RS211 was the last car that completely blew me away.
I sat shotgun in it as the owner did nothing but cruise through the gears in the canyons at a moderate pace. The sheer sound, while not loud, seriously set me back as it was like nothing I've heard before. The way the car looks is like no other car on the road. The amount of power it has and how it makes it is like no other Lotus on the road. It was truly a unique build. And the best part about it was that the owner didn't spoil us with updates by the minute on social media so I knew nothing about it until I saw it in person.

But yeah, we're totally spoiled these days with everything else.


You can never see it all. What makes car culture so interesting and diverse is the different approaches that people take with modifying their cars. No two builds are ever the same.


Best thing about Max Power was the girls. You wouldn't kick Lucy Pinder outta bed for eatting crisps !!


I don't think I am the type to get excited over builds but I am not sure that I ever did feel that way. I see a little bit of what I feel lately in my passion for cars in your post and I think I categorize what I enjoy incorrectly. I used to think I was some kind of gearhead and that I obsessed over this stuff, and to an extent I think that is true. I mean sure, a car can be cool, I can appreciate the work going into something, but unless I get a chance behind the wheel and feel that car perform I just can't get excited about a vehicle on a blog or forum post. 

Even then, lately I have considered that my cars are essentially just tools although their purpose is more than just point A to point B. They have a specific task that I have in mind and in the end I feel my driving ability and the action of wheeling that car is what I get out of it, not the car itself. 

Style is something I still appreciate, and driving with a certain style puts on more of a show and a better end result, but to me it does not make or break the driver's ability and skills which is what I am beginning to enjoy more. Because of this I think I am enjoying the basics once again and not stressing making high power or "killing the game" or anything like that. No crazy engine swaps. No over the top high strung engines. Just a simple factory built engine with a few safe modifications and some suspension pieces to make the car a blast to drive and hopefully reliable, then simply enjoy it.


The last car that blew me away was the F22 EuroFighter even though a LS in a Bmw isn't new or exciting it was done so well that it made up for it


the last car that completely blew me away... the mach 40 mustang. Stuff like this doesn't come along everyday.


The one before that? The RTR-X. I'm not American and can't afford to own a Mustang, probably never will but for some reason, I just love what has been done to them. Both of these may look like similar builds but couldn't be more different.


I find builds that give you the option to follow along on the progress are more exciting than the ones that pop up out of the blue because you feel you have been part of it without even ever lifting a spanner. Both the above popped out of the blue but are so well finished I couldn't not be excited by them. The other ones that get to me are the oddball home-brew ones, just like the yamaha renault posted just recently, the ones that make you go...yup, I wanna drive that!


You touched on the issue Paddy - exposure and saturation. It is easy to be exposed to what is taking place around the world, now more so that ever. Before Facebook & Instagram, you had forums, but they were largely geographical. For me to know what was going on in the VW scene outside of the USA, I needed to pick up the lastest PVW or VW Trends. I no longer have to do that. 

Where the entire community, culture and scene can benefit, is an increase in proper journalism. Quality writing speaking about the car and its owner; the why and how of the build.  We lack quality within the community. We reward quantity.  Some of the best builds out there are more than the sum of their parts, but you need to dig deeper, research what is underneath.  As a community, we need to figure out to bring the EVO Magazine & Car Magazine style of coverage into the fold.

Without that, without the challenge of being better, we get sucked into the glitz and the glamour, and miss why we all got hooked on the hobby in the first place.


JakWhite Actually, the RTR-X didn't pop up out of the blue. The Speedhunters community had a direct input into how the RTR-X would look like as the build was progressing in 2010. Vaughn had weekly(ish) updates asking the viewers to vote on the renders that looked best for the build that eventually made its way into what you see now. 

The old comments are now gone since SH is now using Livefyre but I remember these posts having tons and tons of comments when they first popped up in 2010.



I also agree that exposure is why some awesome builds feel less "special". With the internet you're exposed to so many builds so often that it doesn't feel special. There's only so many rocketbunny 86's you can see before it becomes a little boring or played out.


LouisYio JakWhite I know it didn't hehe, I remember reading the articles etc at the time, as I mentioned, builds that you can follow are the most exciting ones.


The strange thing is...I completely agree with you.  The reason it's strange? This Rocket Bunny S13 built by owner Ryan Novak and featured in one of the last issues of Modified Magazine. This Flared Fender, RB powered S-Chassis with "bolted on bunnies" is the last car I've ran my eyes across and had a feeling that something just stopped me... not because my brain said "WAIT! Look at that!", but because the subconscious, inner me that loves and appreciates the work and craftsmanship required to bend steel, rubber and ABS Plastic into a shape so beautiful and raw that it's able to move the internal me. No BOSS S14, LB Lambo, RWB 911 or flawlessly aged M-Badge wearing Bimmer has inspired me as much as this car...


...dspite being slightly "humble" in its very simple design and construction. With no graphics, no retina incinerating neon coloring, no $10,000 wheel/tire setups all "stanced" and cambered to hell. No bullshit... just a VERY nice, aggressive looking machine that from 15' away looks as though it's whispering... "Dude, the keys are in here. Lets go find a curvy road somewhere and fucking wreck these tires before anyone notices we're gone?"


I've got a humble Chevy Sonic with big plans and an empty wallet (and co-worker's scorn) that could be the next big thing...

Feel like donating to a cause, Paddy?  :P


Is that Blue Rocket Bunny s15 in an article I haven't seen? Are there more photos?


JakWhite LouisYio It had at least 8 articles on Sh before it was done. I remember waiting for updates, living in Signal Hill, knowing the car was being built just a few blocks away and wishing like hell I could walk over and see it in person.


louisFCO +1, completely agree with you. 
We live in a world of pictures, videos, thousands of them. But no information related : how the guy did build his ride? What parts? How long?... As you said, proper journalism.


Paddy, I don't disagree with a lot of your points.  But as soon as I read that you couldn't remember the last car you were truly excited by, I thought "What about Kong?"


You've brought it up a couple of times and mentioned how it has stayed with you.  So that part of this article really made me scratch my head.


Steve Hayward Kong and to another extent, the Tantrum Charger, are probably two that have come closest. I was actually thinking about both when writing this, but chose to omit them for what might now seem a very illogical reason which maybe only makes sense in my head. They're both incredible builds, but because I don't think that either car is any way obtainable, they don't hit me in the same way. Add to that, they're both basically - and probably two of the best - Pro Touring builds. They've not trodden any new ground, but rather taken what already existed and turning it up to 11.

That's to take absolutely nothing away from either car. It's purely a personal interpretation.


Pittraider18 It did feature briefly in our Dubshed coverage from last year, but there should be a more in-depth piece in the next month or two - http://www.speedhunters.com/2016/04/dubshed-the-japanese-invasion/


RotaryNissan I can barely donate to my own!


DinoSawr Yet, if you saw one rolling down the street, amidst mundane commuter cars, you'd lose your mind. I know I would!


louisFCO I actually 100% agree with you, but the issue is that the vast majority don't appreciate the in-depth stories or just completely skip over them. They also cost a lot more to create in both time and money. Considering our world is one where very few are willing to pay for anything, this obviously creates a bit of a conundrum.


Have we seen it all ? Not really but social media has ruined the appeal of surprise a little bit for one. Too much content just makes us numb when we see something that's a little bit out of the ordinary. But that's life and where we at , I'ts nice to see I'm not the only one asking this question !


Honestly, I'm feeling like we need to see more than the beauty of the car, the beauty of each and each engine bay to be hooked by a car again. Or at least pay less attention about the esthetics.
Because every time that I am looking at 80% of car projects in every magazine I bought, I have the impression that all the work and all the intention is going only on the build, the parts, the work done with that. But rarely on the driving experience, or about subjective feelings.

Maybe we should be more focused about the driving experience of each car, the philosophy of the global project, the goal of the project. The behavior of the car, the feeling behind the wheel, the character of the engine, for finding that feeling that pushes us to go forward. Or even an experience on the road, like Jordan Butters did with his article "In search of the Good Roads". For me, just a drive on a beautiful road, fast or slow, even with a crap car is where I'm hooked and is what I want to do the most of my time now. There's many ways to enjoy cars, why should we focus only on one side of our passion ?


Paddy McGrath DinoSawr This is just why I stopped following 2K Caddy builds and browsing the forums for them - it made me think that they were everywhere. Once I stopped looking I began to enjoy mine all the more - and driving about, how many slammed do I see day-to-day, let alone over the last 7 years? Not many.


I think there is still a lot to be done with the automotive industry and there are defiantly new types of builds that are going to be ushered in once electric cars and alternative engine sources make their way into the mainstream. That said, I do feel like this whole notion of a car being something godlike or the end-all-be-all is a bit overrated. I love engines and cars more than anything but its not my only defining personality point and feel like thats where people take it a bit too far.


Paddy McGrath DinoSawr Yeah it still turns my head haha


As perhaps a result of over exposure of yet another Rocketbunny kit I've become more interested in builds such as the Renault/Yamah recently featured.
Sure it's easy to build a car when you have unlimited funds but some creativity is lost when you're buying the same parts others can buy.
I prefer cars built with the mind over the pocket book


Steve Hayward Paddy McGrath I wonder does sharing so much of the build on social media result in a design by committee result? If you're gauging the reaction to every step, you might be more inclined to build something that's a compromise of the original idea?


Alfettaracer Completely agree.


Honestly, the only cars that really interest me are new performance production cars, and super high powered street drag cars.  Kind of immune to all of the "style" going around.  Money can't buy taste.


Paddy McGrath I'm sure in some cases it does.  Some people post updates that will "get the love" while others post stuff that they know "haters will hate".  Hell I'm guilty of that too, as well as posting options and getting feedback on what other people think works or looks best.  On the flip side, I think almost everyone gauges feedback in some way, whether online, or with friends in person.  I think the key is taking whatever feedback you get, and deciding if it fits with your vision, or goes against it - do the other people really get what you are going for?  I always appreciate builds which have a unique vision and take it all the way.

And I remembered the other build from this year which really grabbed me - the RWB Speedster featured here.  That took a current existing formula and took it in a new direction with a pretty unique result IMO.


Seems to me that it's a symptom of the hobby rushing to sameness.  That is, people are letting themselves be too swayed by trends rather than just building a car to meet their own expression.  When everyone is trying to make their car look like a [insert interesting build] car, the essence that made the car interesting gets diluted.  When everything is derivative, nothing is original, and thus nothing is interesting.
People love originality, but lack the courage to be original themselves with their own work and instead make nothing but imitations of what they like.  Everything becomes "inspired by" or made to "fit in" to a certain scene or trend and the art of being original gets lost along the way.

The best builds are the ones which satisfy the builder while at the same time making them leave their own comfort zone & bucks the trends/expectations of others.  Build something that you love, but others might really really hate.  You'll know you're doing it right when the ones who hate it are the ones who "fit in" and don't take risks themselves.


I feel you, but sometimes something special does pop up. I find myself more inclined to the engineering behind the car rather than the final "look" of the car these days, what's under the skin can be quite exciting


Bring on the RWB, RB, Pandem, and LB*Works cars! I haven't gotten tired of them yet, and don't see that changing anytime soon.


It's hard to judge a build now (as a reader obviously) because of the intense output of content as demanded by readers. Between speedhunters, facebook, instagram other blogs and social medias, it can be difficult to give each build, update or article the attention it deserves. We see so much now without even having to search for it that everything loses the rewarding satisfaction of actually "feasting your eyes".

I would imagine that it's difficult to write an article or upload a pic on such a viewed outlet without the subject being compared to every other 2JZ rocket bunny GT86 build. Even when Ryan Tuerck pulls out a frickin' Ferrari powerplanted FRS the internet says "why not 2JZ, more reliable and better tuning blah blah". I think the problem is that it has become an addiction like any other, where intake is upped and we have adapted to this and no longer get the same dopamine dump we got when we picked up max power, fast car, modified motors or whatever but once a week.

I don't think cars will ever lose their grip on me, not while that little bit of me loses it's shit when I'm filling my car at the 24hr petrol station late on Friday night and a s13 with a six cylinder hum pulls up.


The builds that excite me the most are the builds that the owners are excited by.
I shot a Millington Diamond powered AE86 gravel car recently, a beautiful build and the product of some unfortunate circumstances. During the shoot myself and the owner had some pretty in depth conversation about the car, and the engineering of the car (largely self-built). I just couldn't help but get enthused about it, after listening to the owner fizzing about his new build, the challenges involved and just how much he was amping to get out and give it some right foot action.
The build had purpose. It had direction. It had function. It didn't come without it's challenges.
Those three things alone are really what get me going. I've long tried to bring features to the table that are a product of a proper goal, and some good old fashioned blood sweat and tears in the shed. This is to me what being a car guy is all about, I grew up with it, and I still immerse myself in it to the utomst of my ability (time's the biggest mitigating factor).
Without wanting to devalue someone's build, the current crop of trending "brand name builds" (sorry I couldn't figure out a more eloquent way to put that) don't feel as driven or as single mindedly determined as a good old-fashioned built in the shed project. Dare I say cookie cutter? I don't know... but I am well aware that there is a level of hard-graft put into raising the capital to do these builds all the same.
I'm sailing dangerously close to the "built not bought" attitude I know. But the saturation of these, and the way in which they're presented with little to no information about how it all came about leaves them feeling a little impersonal, a little show-offy and ultimately a little more boring to me personally.


D-Mac and his S1 Quattro is exciting me at the moment, can't wait to see it in the metal!
Hopefully you can rekindle your love affair Paddy, would hate to see your top quality work overshadowed by an underlying struggle to find the next big impressionable build! Keep up the good work and as you said yourself, 2017 may have a few surprises up its sleeve


louisFCO  That is true. And EVO magazine is best writing I ever read. And they have most epic photos.
Speedhunters,you do really good job too. I adore writings from Paddy,Larry, Dino and others,very nice.
But you can do very good story,but as I saw in comments, there are a lot of lazy people who are just lookin at photos like three years old. 
I got mad on these type of ignorants. MF,someone put a lot of time to write something inspiring,great,epic,toughtfulll,how the hell you can ignore that.


Oh Paddy, if you only knew. The madness hasnt even started.


uptil I saw the paycheck for $7608 , I accept that...my... friend woz realey bringing home money in there spare time on their apple labtop. . there aunts neighbour has done this for under 18 months and at present paid the loans on there house and purchased a new Chrysler . Check This Out ►►►  http://ow.ly/B2NC307MUYC


"If at least 30% of people don't hate it - then it's not new." ~ Chris Bangle


It's pretty easy to get burned out when you make your hobby into your job. I remember working at a bike shop when i was young, and not wanting to ride bmx or fix my bike after work because of the constant exposure to products and media started to stunt my own creativity and opinions. Only way around it is sometimes to take a back seat for a bit. Last car that blew me away was probably that carbon kevlar BMW that you guys featured last year. Workmanship and finish never get tiring!


Wes_FD3S post pics from the MR2 article please!




AM7 crew back in the day. Still searchin for the feelin those cars gave me. Oh ya hasback crew and phaze 2 also do it for me. Early to mid 2000s honda scene look always gets me inspired. Kozuku crew also. Damn im nostalgic lol.