Top 12 Classic Car Builds of 2017

December, 2017

Top Builds
Every year a new collection of ultimate custom built cars debut at national events across the country. Many of them have been in the works for years, evolving from an idea, to drawings, to the final product – a functioning motor car. These creations illustrate the skill and ingenuity of their builders, as well as the vision of their owners. A testament to what is possible when cost is no object, these Builds are literally hand fabricated from headlight to tail light, integrating only token pieces of metal from their namesake to establish their identity by year and make.

In 2017 this group of top Builds made the show circuit, with stops at premier classic car events such as Detroit Autorama in Michigan, Grand National Roadster Show in Pomona, CA, Hot August Nights in Reno, NV, Street Rod Nationals in Louisville, KY, and Goodguys PPG Nationals in Columbus, OH. Along the way, these best of the best wowed show attendees and received some of the most coveted awards in the hobby. Here are our picks for a 12-bay dream garage, filled with 2017’s crop of masterpieces.

Owner:    Bruce Wanta

Builder:    Hollywood Hot Rods of Burbank, CA

Awards:    National Roadster Show America’s Most Beautiful Roaster, Hot August Nights Cup, and Goodguys Street Rod d’Elegance

This multi-award winning Packard is so unique it could be in a class by itself. In the 67 year history of the Grand National Roadster Show, it’s the first Packard ever to win the highly prestigious “America’s Most Beautiful Roadster” award, and then it went on to win the extremely competitive Hot August Nights Cup. It exudes both elegance and precision, in its flowing style and flawless attention to details, right down to the refined V12 up front. Then, just when you think it couldn’t get any better, a push of a button and the retractable hard top raises and lowers. The owner, Bruce Wanta, describes this dream ride and demonstrates the “way cool” disappearing top in the above video.

1933 Ford Roadster “Renaissance Roadster”

Owner:    Buddy Jordan of Portland, Oregon

Builder:    Steve’s Auto Restoration, Portland, OR

Awards:    Detroit Autorama Ridler Award and Goodguys “Most Beautiful Street Rod”

By winning the coveted Ridler award at the Detroit Autorama, this Ford roadster gets an automatic entry in any list of dream cars for 2017.   Elegant, inside and out, this stunning burgundy Tudor, checks off all the boxes.    It’s definitely hard not to stare at this piece of automotive jewelry.  See More…

Owner:    Ed Sears of Annapolis, Maryland

Builder:    One Off Rod & Customs of Middletown, DE

Awards:    Detroit Autorama Great 8 Finalist and Goodguys Truck of the Year (Early)

When looking at this truck in the sun, the paint actually glitters like gold. But, the exceptionalism of this uniquely beautiful vehicle doesn’t stop there. Check out the flathead V8, which is in itself a work of art, and the inboard rear brakes and quick change rear end. The list of cool features goes on and on, including remotely operated hood and rear cover, activated by iPhone.  See More…

1932 Ford Tudor “GTP”

Owner:    George Poteet of Memphis, Tennessee

Builder:    Johnson’s Hot Rod Shop of Gadsden, AL

Awards:    Detroit Autorama Great 8 Finalist and Goodguys Street Rod of the Year

There are probably more Deuce Coupes built than any other hot rod, but it would be difficult to find one that has been taken to the level of this black beauty.   Looking at the racked silhouette is the first clue that this car is something special.    Then, when you see the custom Y block 312 engine and unique interior, it’s obvious that this is a one-of-a-kind Deuce.  See More…

Owner:    Larry and Bobbie Griffey of Powell, Tennessee

Builder:    Griffey’s Hot Rods and Restorations of Knoxville, TN

Awards:    Great 8 Finalist, NSRA Pro’s Pick (NSRA’s most outstanding car for 2017) and a top contender for Goodguys Custom Rod of the Year

Everybody loves a little red Corvette, and this fabulous Build combines the iconic first generation sports car with all new technology throughout.   There are subtle modifications to the body to give it a more muscular look and to accommodate a monster supercharged engine up front.    Inside the cockpit there is a long list of upgrades, including an abundant use of leather and power accessories. The cool factor is off the charts for this tribute to GM’s Motorama concept Vette.  See More…

1937 Ford “After Shock”

Owner:    Glen McElroy

Builder:    Rick Dore Kustoms, CA

Awards:    America’s Most Beautiful Roadster (AMBR) Finalist and Outstanding Engineering Award, both at the Grand National Roadster Show

It really doesn’t matter what year or even what marque you call this champagne-colored master piece, but Rick Dore, the builder, assured us there is a section of frame somewhere under all that sensuously flowing sheet metal that came from one of Henry’s original 1937 Fords.   Featuring a stylish lift-off top and jewelry-like accents inside, it represents what is possible when the best designers and fabricators are unrestrained to produce an ultimate custom Build.    Check out the above video, as Rick describes his creation, “After Shock.”   In his words, he “…wanted something that looks like it is going 80 mph when standing still.”   We say mission accomplished!

1951 Ford “GT-51 Coupe”

Owner:    Bruce Leven of Auburn, WA

Builder:    Wicked Fabrication of Auburn, WA

Awards:    Grand National Roadster Show’s Best Custom and Goodguys Custom Rod of the Year

If Ford had decided to challenge Ferrari on the track a decade earlier, this is probably what the race car would have looked like, although perhaps not quite as refined at this over-the-top show car, with its lavish use of chrome and fancy two-toned leather seats.    Nevertheless, all the important race car setup is in place to make this a true track star, starting with a modern tuned suspension, 4-wheel disk brakes, juiced up Lincoln power, and streamlining body mods.   Wouldn’t you want to do some hot laps on a twisty road course in this Shoebox?

1949 Chevy C10 Pickup “Heirloom”

Owner:    Robby Collvins of Mount Vernon, Texas

Builder:    Collvins Collision and Customs of Mount Vernon, Texas

Awards:    Detroit Autorama Great 8 Finalist and Goodguys Truck of the Year Finalist

This pickup was a truly a labor of love by Owner/Builder Robby Collvins. It is to be handed down to future generations of the Collvins family, hence the name “Heriloom.” Starting with the look of a late 1940s Chevy pickup, it has the running gear of a Corvette, and the rear styling of a Cadillac. The bed has laminated unfinished wood, native to Texas, and the interior has the look of a western saddle. This vehicle is definitely a treasure that will be appreciated by future generations of the Collvins family.  See More…

1966 Corvette “Split Ray”

Owner:    Dennis Johnson and Scott Roth of South Burlington, Vermont

Builder:    The Auto Shoppe of Burlington, Vermont

Awards:    Detroit Autorama Great 8 Finalist

There’s nothing new about a wide-bodied second generation Corvette; however, this very unique Vette was widened by cutting down the center and then adding 6 3/8” between the two halves.    Then, two extra tail lights were added to the rear and the front was massaged to compensate for the wider stance. In the cockpit, the interior was modeled after the C7s, and up front, modern Corvette power upgrades were installed. What makes this Build so spectacular is that it doesn’t look really modified, but rather a professionally enhanced version of the iconic “mid-year” Corvette body style.  See More…

1930 Ford Model A Coupe “After Thought”

Owner:    Ted and Colleen Hubbard of South Bend, Nebraska

Builder:    Cal Automotive Creations of Bennington, NE

Awards:    Detroit Autorama Great 8 Finalist

In stark contrast to bright paint and flashy chrome, this Build, which incorporates meticulous attention to details, is all about artistic uses of muted finishes. A key design element of this Model A is the use of fins on the engine components, drive train, and in the interior. Essentially everything is one-off and handmade, right down to the cap screws, which require a special tool for their installation.  See More…

1932 Ford Pickup “Time Merchant”

Owner:    Matthew Gordon of Hueytown, Alabama

Builder:    Goolsby Customs of Hueytown, AL

Awards:    America’s Most Beautiful Roadster (AMBR) Finalist, and Outstanding Paint, Outstanding Undercarriage, and Outstanding Engine — all at the Grand National Roadster Show

It’s the gorgeous blue paint that first grabs your attention, but the rich contrasting interior and wooden bed seals the deal.   But, that’s not all. When you see those bicycle-type fenders, you know you’re in the midst of a one-of-kind, slamming pickup.    Upon closer inspection, you’ll notice that the “Time Merchant” incorporates several donor items from an Olds, including the chromed-out engine, dash instruments and wheel caps.   This is one sweet ride.

1950 Studebaker Starlite Coupe “Tribute to Memphis Bell, B17 Flying Fortress”

Owner:    Anton and Shannon Lanesky of Hiram, OH

Builder:    Anton’s Hot Rod Shop of Hiram, OH

Awards:    Builder’s Choice Showcase at National Street Road Association, Louisville, KY

Spotted at the National Street Rod Association’s Builder Showcase in Louisville, this is a car that nobody can walk by without stopping to take a closer look. It combines the futuristic look of the 1950s Studebaker Starlite Coupe with the iconic look of a WWII B17 bomber, “Flying Fortress.” Around back it sports a big wing (spoiler), wheelie bar, and huge rear slicks. It’s definitely a wicked-looking Build. But, this Stude is not just for show — it is a real deal drag car, pumping out 2600 HP for anyone brave enough to run it down the quarter mile. In the above video, Anton Lanesky, the builder/owner tells you more about this amazing racer.
This article has been prepared in collaboration with Cars-On-Line.    For weekly news about the collector car hobby, subscribe to their newsletter.   For live reports from many of the national car events across the country, follow eClassicAutos on Twitter and Facebook, and mark your calendar for upcoming car shows and auctions by checking out our Events Calendar.

If you didn’t see a 2017 Custom Build in our list that you feel should be there, contact us.