Four custom creations from Motorama 2024

Introduction

The Motorama Custom Car & Motorsports Expo in Toronto is an event that spans several halls. Between the cars, celebrities, and exhibitor booths, it’s easy to miss something, especially if you’re the type of person who gets distracted.

Although I’m certainly distracted, op this year’s show I managed to quickly identify four builds that I thought the Speedhunters audience in general would be interested in. As a bonus, they are all quite different from each other; we tend to get pretty creative during the long winters here in Canada…

A 2JZ-swapped KE70 Corolla

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Khurram Awan is a local drag racer with an affinity for the Toyota emblem.

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His current garage consists of two 1993 Supras: a naturally aspirated road car and another turbo car that has run a quarter-mile time of 8.91 seconds at 164 mph.

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Motorama 2024 served as the unveiling for Khurram’s latest build: a 2JZ-powered KE70 Corolla. He built this towing machine in collaboration with a local fabrication shop known as Chassis Stop.

Chassis Stop doesn’t fool around and their handiwork is behind all the cars above. They’re pretty good at mixing race cars with road cars and vice versa.

This project is a purpose built (stick shift) drag car with attention to detail that rivals a show build. The car is fully caged and fitted with carbon fiber floors and wheel arches. The Precision Turbo-equipped 2JZ is backed by a Tremec T56 transmission.

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Simply calling the car a ‘crowd favorite’ would be selling it short; I found it every time I wanted to take a closer look, surrounded by showgoers. Intriguing structures always have a way of drawing people in.

Holy Gasser, Batman

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In the world of car show bingo, I’m willing to bet there isn’t a single card with an aluminum-bodied Batmobile gasser on it.

The original Adam West-era Batmobile, which George Barris custom built for 1966 Batman TV series – was based on the Lincoln Futura concept car built by Ford in 1955. Naturally, Batman’s car was painted black and filled with gadgets. The version at Motorama wasn’t black, but it was still packed with gismos.

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The lack of black paint can be forgiven as it would hide the carefully hand-crafted aluminum bodywork.

Recreating the body of the Batmobile is an ongoing project for Fugitive customs cars. At one point the car was on a more traditional chassis, but now it has the proper period-correct drag car underpinnings.

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Go Bat Skydiving! And yes, they are Batman theme.

Real carbon, really cool

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In 2023, Harse Autocraft impressed Motorama with their stunning performance Alfa Romeo in a beautiful green shade. This year they brought the copy of that car.

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Harse has called this the Ampia GTA-00, and it features full carbon fiber bodywork with House of Kolor Kandy paint graphics. The car builds on what Harse achieved last year, and under the skin is a similar 2.0L Nord twin-cam engine with side-pull Weber carbs and a five-speed manual gearbox.

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These bodies will enter production in 2024 and beyond, making their applications limitless.

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The second production organization that Harse exhibited showed how far things can go if there is enough time, creativity and capital.

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The LS2-based project sat on a Schwartz Welding-built chassis. Grant Schwartz previously worked for Vegas Rat Rods, so he’s no stranger to unique requests.

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All carbon reproduction bodies are based on Alfa Romeo GTA-M cars. These had bolt-on flares, but Harse recreated them in one piece for a more refined look.

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As a well-documented non-purist, I think the Harse Alfa Romeos look beautiful in metal or carbon fiber.

Mercury RS4Ti

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The last car I’ll put in the spotlight is JH Restorations’ version of a Merkur X4Ti: the RS4Ti.

No, this isn’t a Ford Sierra, but I can’t blame you for thinking it is.

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The X4ti is the North American version of the Ford Sierra. There are visual differences between the two models, but JH has gone to great lengths to remove most of them. This includes installing larger, one-piece side windows.

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Unfortunately, the Merkur X4Ti didn’t sell well here in North America. Worse, the salt we spread on the roads sent some cars to an early grave, while others fell victim to the same problems that plagued many mid-’80s turbo cars: neglect.

Nowadays it is quite rare to see a Merkur. Catching one during a show is similar to spotting a leprechaun.

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Jesse Henke and the team at JH built this car for the SEMA Show over three years, and Motorama 2024 marked its Canadian debut.

Under the hood is a Ford 2.3L Ecobeast crate engine from Ford Performance. The ‘Ecobeast’ differs from the standard Ecoboost with improved camshafts, rods, pistons, a larger throttle body and a larger turbo. A Blower TKX 5-speed transmission and a Ford 8.8 rear end back this up.

The Ecoboost engines are quite long and closing the hood with the engine in place required a hood.

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Once the body modification bandage was removed, the JH team created their vision for the X4Ti’s exterior. The car was 3D scanned and wider fenders and quarters were virtually designed before being built. The JH Restorations body package includes a larger wing and a more aggressive chin spoiler.

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The 80s are embraced with the interior of the Merkur. To me it is much more welcoming than the original design but retains all the charm.

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Dakota Digital supplied the custom meters, with a Blaupunkt head unit and a digital equalizer mounted underneath. All this is installed in a blue leather-wrapped dashboard and center console combination.

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This is perhaps the best example ever of a resto-modified Merkur, so the RS4Ti deserves much more than just a parting glance. I hope to travel west of the city sometime this year to spend time with the JH boys, so stay tuned for more information.

Dave Thomas
Instagram: attitude everything com

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