Top Five Custom Car Builds for 2021

December, 2021

  Legendary Builder Darryl Starbird’s ‘61 T-Bird Displayed at 2021 NSRA Nationals

Since hundreds of new custom builds are introduced every year, it seems an impossible task to narrow the field down to the top five.   However, we started by looking at the cars that won awards at national high-profile classic car events, recognizing that only the best compete at this level.  Unfortunately, social distancing requirements in 2021 caused the cancellation of several major events, such as the Detroit Autorama, Grand National Roadster Show, and Chicago World of Wheels.   As a result, highly coveted awards such as the Ridler, America’s Most Beautiful Roadster, and the Legends Cup were not presented.  However, other major shows, such as the Goodguys Nationals in Columbus, the NSRA Nationals in Louisville, and SEMA, were held.  Here are the 2021 top five custom builds we’ve chosen from these events.

1941 Chevrolet Deluxe “Fleet 41”

Award: 2021 Goodguys Street Rod of the Year

Owner: Wes Rydell

Builder: Rad Rides by Troy

Vital Stats: Engine, Transmission, Chassis, Wheels, Paint, and Interior

“Fleet 41″ is arguably the best custom build to debut in 2021.  Built by the multi-award-winning shop, Rad Rides by Troy, this prewar Chevy started as a four-door sedan before it was totally reworked into a two-door coupe.  Perhaps the most striking feature of this one-of-a-kind car is its one-off Oldsmobile-inspired wheels fitted with whitewall tires.  As you move in closer, the craftsmanship of the build becomes even more apparent.  Every part of the car looks period correct, only enhanced.  For example, all the brightwork is finished in nickel instead of typical chrome, and under the beautiful exterior, all the latest technologies have been incorporated, including many features found in today’s luxury cars.

Although this Chevrolet Deluxe will remain a “Trailer Queen”while it is on the show circuit, the owner, Wes Rydell, told us he wanted a car he could enjoy driving on long trips.  So, don’t be surprised to see this Chevy on the open road soon.   For more about this incredible build, check out our interview below with Wes.

1955 Chevy Bel Air “Brute Force”

Award: 2021 SEMA Battle of the Builders (Also a Great 8 Finalist in 2020)

Owner: Bob Matranga

Builder: Matranga Hot Rods

Vital Stats: Engine, Transmission, Chassis, Wheels, Paint, and Interior

The car’s name says it all.  This Tri-five, with its monster 1,400 HP motor, makes it an absolute brute.  However, there’s a lot more to this custom Chevy that makes it truly exceptional.  Most high-end builds feature a lot of modifications, but this car has been virtually built from the bottom up, using one-off parts not found in any catalog.  Only the very best materials and master craftmanship have been used in this Bel Air.  The owner, Bob Matranga, gave us an overview of this extraordinary custom build at the 2020 Detroit Autorama.  In the below video, Bob tells about “Brute Force.”

1969 Camaro RS/SSMercury Rising

Award: 2021 Goodguys Street Machine of the Year

Owner: Chad Farischon

Builder: Mountain Home Street Rods

Vital Stats: Engine, Transmission, Chassis, Wheels, Paint, and Interior

This iconic pony car has been turned into a hard charging track star while at the same time it is still “civil” enough to cruise on the street.  A special built Mercury Racing engine, delivering 750 naturally aspirated HP, is the centerpiece of this Camaro.  This power is applied to the ground with a race-tuned   handling package designed to carve up a road course.  Overall body mods are subtle, with changes only to modernize its look and remain true to the popular 1969 Camaros body style.  Inside, the cabin has been upgraded with leather/suede racing seats, as well as a full array of electronic goodies.

1950 Chevy PickupFast Layne 50

Award: 2021 NSRA Builder of the Year Award

Owner: Keith Layne

Builder: L & S  Customs

Vital Stats: Engine, Transmission, Chassis, Wheels, Paint, and Interior

This golden creation began as many build projects do, with modest goals.  However, after work started, Keith Layne, the owner, decided to go all-in with a total custom remake of the classic Chevy 3100 pickup.  The new truck has modern running gear, including a LS 3 engine, custom interior, and a “50s Chevy car dash. The bed has been remade from scratch with an eye-popping zebrawood floor.  The attention to detail and workmanship are as good as it gets.  See our below video where Scott Sheets of L&S Customs gave us a walk around this fabulous hauler called “Fast Layne 50.”

1946 Ford Business “Poor Man’s Zephyr”

Award: 2021 NSRA Builder Showcase (a personal favorite)

Owner: Aubrey and Brian Fullerton

Builder: Live Free Fabrication

Vital Stats: Engine, Transmission, Chassis, Wheels, Paint, and Interior

Aubrey and Brian Fullerton blended mechanic and artistic innovations to create a completely new look for the seldom customized ‘46 Ford.  The body mods are extensive, from a complete rework of the front grill to the lowered roofline, to the Zephyr’s styled fastback.  The art deco look is carried through in the cabin with a total custom two-tone interior and a center-mounted Mopar-inspired gauge cluster.  In the below video the Fullerton’s give us a tour of their low-riding coupe.  This cool custom looks like it’s cruising when sitting still.  We expect to see a lot more great customs in the coming years from this enthusiastic husband and wife build team.

If you feel we missed a top custom build in 2021, send us a message.  We’d certainly like to hear from you.

Also, get ready for 2022.  The new crop of customs should include some carryovers from ’21, waiting for the return of the Detroit Autorama and Grand National Roadster Shows.  It should be a fun ride in ‘22 with the avalanche of all the new builds hitting the show circuit.

For a look at classic car pricing in 2021, go here to see our price comparison of auction sales in 2020 versus 2021.