The decision to stop thinking about doing something, and actually doing it, can result in some pretty spectacular outcomes.
Somewhere north of Houston, Texas is an unassuming workshop in an unassuming neighbourhood. On a street with neatly cut front gardens, sporadically covered with the shade from an abundance of tall trees and where basketball hoops face onto the street, is the home of Speedlab Creations. The peaceful surroundings are pretty much the perfect contrast to the vehicles of power and fury created within the confines this property.
For regular readers of Speedhunters, it will be no surprise that often it’s these modest places that contain some of the most extraordinary things, and Speedlab Creations is another worthy addition to this informal series.
For Jose Jimenez, the brains behind Speedlab Creations (SLC), the journey started 10 years ago in his parents’ garage as Jimenez Racing. Having been around racing since a young age, and being surrounded by talented fabricators, Jose turned his own hands to working and fabricating on his own cars in order to both save money and to not have to depend on others to do the work for him.
“My first car was a 1993 Civic that had a B20 VTEC setup that at the time was very popular to do. It was naturally aspirated and was just lowered on coilovers, a very basic setup. Once that motor gave up, I ended up swapping to a B18C and boosting it with a GReddy-style turbo kit, then upgrading to a Garrett GT35R, and never looked back,” Jose told us. It was around this point in Jose’s life that his love for boost would rise to prominence.
In 2013, Jose formally setup SLC and turned his passion into a career. While his focus has since been primarily on his customers, he has had the time to build multiple cars of note. Maybe one of the most recognisable is the company’s fourth-generation Camaro which debuted at the SEMA Show in 2019.
If you’re thinking that’s a lot of motor and a lot of turbocharger, you would be correct. A 468ci (that’s 7.7-litres) LSX V8 is being force fed by a Garrett 106mm GTX Gen 2 turbo. The not inconsiderable air-to-water intercooler was custom designed and built in-house by SLC, utilising CSF Race cores, and is a significant part of the estimated 2,500hp power output of this car.
While the preference is certainly towards full-blown drag builds, SLC is also an equal opportunities builder and modifier. “Drag cars have been a favorite for a while but the more opportunities to work on exotics are starting to say otherwise,” Jose said.
That’s not to mention their Ford F150 shop truck, complete with Mickey Thompsons and a suspiciously large Garrett, either.
It would be amiss of us not to try and tap into some of SLC and Jose’s own knowledge and experience during our visit. When asked what do people most often overlook when it comes to their own fabrication, Jose replied that “planning is probably the most overlooked, and for me is the most crucial part before even starting a project. Not everything can get ironed out since there will always be hurdles at some point, but having a good game plan can definitely go a long way.”
When probed about what his favorite build to date is, he didn’t hesitate in saying that it’s their current 1956 Ford Fairlane. “It’s just different, and such a classic and iconic hotrod for its time,” he said.
Expectations are high for this car. While it’s not finished yet, to give you a rough idea of its potential, the car has enough intercooling to accommodate around 4,000hp courtesy of two CSF 2,000hp air-to-water cores (CSF #8086) contained within a custom 12x12x12-inch intercooler. The cores are pressure tested to 120psi (8.2bar) for maximum reliability in extreme boost applications.
Unsurprising perhaps considering the size of two turbochargers hanging off the front of the car.
The CSF cores are an ideal solution for speciality fabrication shops such as Speedlab Creation. “I’ve always used their products, especially the cores for intercoolers, since we custom build our intercoolers to suit so many different builds,” Jose said.
He added that, “It’s not just the intercooler cores, either. Since CSF also has a very deep line in cooling systems for a variety of different vehicles which helps in the various build processes when you’re not having to make something custom all the time. Their support is a major bonus, especially when you’re a company who is growing within the industry and that they care about the sport as much as we do.”
When Jose made the decision to pick up tools and work on his own car, I wonder was he aware of how that one decision would shape his career and life so significantly? How teaching himself the skills required to be able to offer custom fabrication and precision TIG welding services to a standard which can only be described as art.
Some people only ever think and talk about these things, but other people just get on and do it.
Photography by Mark Riccioni
CSF Race is an official Speedhunters Supplier
Cool write-up & photos.
We need more fabrication articles!
Jose is obviously a terrific TIG welder- that turbo plumbing & the '56 Ford headers are pieces of fine art.
I-on the other hand- am happy when my MIG welds don't suck.