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Xtreme Wheels Show provides winter tonic
2.3.06. Now in its third year, Xtreme Wheels at Alexandra Palace has always provided an excellent tonic for petrolheads keen to blow away the winter blues. This year’s event was no different. Organiser Terry Gibbs managed to assemble a fine selection of street rods, drag racing machinery, customs and, unfortunately for die-hard American car enthusiasts, a slightly larger influx of import machinery.
Part of the impressive 26 car display on the NSRA featured a brace of '32 Coupes
The format was much as before - two main halls crammed full of exhibits with other, smaller displays dotted around to best utilise the space. The venue is well-suited to this type of event, and although it isn’t huge – you can comfortably walk around the show in an hour or so – it provides a great showcase for the talents of all those associated with American car culture in the UK.
'63 Vette of Ian Jackson may look something of a plumbers nightmare, but the twin turbo 427cu. in. Chevy boasts 1600 horsepower
Just after closing time on the final day, Terry Gibbs commented, “Overall, we were very pleased with the event. We had a slightly higher attendance on Saturday than last year, but surprisingly, the figures for Sunday were down. I felt that we were missing a lot of the die-hard drag and rodding crowd on the Sunday, which is a shame, because much of this show is about recreating the buzz and excitement of those original Custom Car shows at this venue in the ‘70s. The quality of exhibits was probably higher than in previous years, and I had a lot of positive feedback from exhibitors, who were very pleased with their weekend. The show was a success, but it needs to pull in a much higher attendance to make it a better proposition for 2007. For that reason, if it does go ahead, we will seriously revamp it.”
Terry went on to say, “The Japanese car influx is a fact of life. We have to change with the times, and if we didn’t get the support of the import crowd, then the show might not exist at all, so we try to embrace this aspect and make it work for all. Similarly, we get a lot of support from Choice FM, and they in turn go out of their way to promote the event. Again, it would be difficult to run it without them, though I do understand that the music is not to everyone’s taste.”
As featured last year, one of the interesting side attractions of the show is a display of tot rods and other smaller scale vehicles. One in particular caught our eye – a scale model slingshot dragster - check it out in Models Zone.
John Pryor's F-Type Vauxhall Victor gasser - very cool
The West Hall was once again more of a focal point for the import cars on display, but in amongst them was the NASC stand featuring a number of very cool cars. One of the most eye-catching had to be the lovely Vauxhall Victor Estate of John Pryor, which had been lovingly restored and executed in Gasser fashion. The ice blue paintwork was immaculate and the attention to detail, which included Radir wheels, a louvered bonnet, the absence of a front bumper and a suitably high front-end stance, made this car a real standout.
Complex flame treatment on Gary Swain's Model B
Also notable was the 1932 Model B of Gary Swain of the Smoke City Wheelers. The three-window coupe featured an unusual ghostly flame treatment, executed by Prosign, over the base colour, laid down by Larry at Kar Kraft. A 350ci Chevy motor powered the eye-catching Deuce.
Sue Manner's Model A pick-up had some neat details
The NSRA stand in the Grand Hall was suitably large, with a display of 26 outstanding street rods and customs. Noteworthy newcomers included the nostalgia-influenced, red Model A Pick-up of Sue Manners, which had unique features like leopard skin-style cloth seat inserts and dash panel, plus interesting detail throughout. On a more contemporary theme, the 1937 Ford Roadster, and former DRCReview feature car, of Keith & Sharon Murrell, was flanked by John Unsworth’s equally tasteful 1937 pick-up. Both of these cars undoubtedly epitomise current, state-of-the-art street rod execution and are probably as fine a pair as you’ll find anywhere on the planet.
A great example of the high-tech street rod genre was provided by the Downs-bodied 1937 Ford "phantom" pick-up of John Unsworth. Also on display in the NSRA area, it boasted fuel-injected Chevy power
Although in the “work-in-progress” category, it was good to see Andromeda, the Fad T created by Nick Butler, on display. The car wasn’t running and it needed an interior, but it looked in good shape, and once completed, will undoubtedly be a testament to the restoration skills of owner, Eddie Brown.
Andromeda, one of many fine rods to emerge from Nick Butler's workshop in the 70s - now under restoration
The Home Grown Hot Rods stand featured not one, but two, surprises. HGHR owner, Jon Golding, managed not only to complete a fabulous, lemon yellow, ’34 Ford three-window coupe for proud owner, Kevin Foster, but also to debut his own Ford Pick-up. As one has come to expect of Golding-built cars, both were finished to an impeccably high standard. Looking at the shut lines, the paintwork and the overall quality of workmanship, it’s easy to understand why Home Grown Hot Rods has a full order book for the rest of the year.
Kevin Foster's impeccable 3-window coupe
Jon Golding's '32 Ford complete with hot Chevy crate motor
Another surprise exhibit was the appearance of a factory Harley Davidson drag bike, which can apparently be ordered from US Harley dealers. Called the V-Rod Destroyer, the bike is assembled as a purpose-built 9.0 second machine, and comes from the showroom ready to race with a high-compression 1300 cc V-twin motor, revised throttle bodies, racing exhaust, programmable shift light tachometer, rear slick and full wheelie bars. Unofficially, you may be able to buy one in the UK for around £22,000. This kind of “showroom racer” marketing has, in the past, been restricted to derivatives of certain performance cars in the US, but to our knowledge, it marks the first time a bike manufacturer has gone this route.
No hassle drag bike racing from Harley with their factory offering - the V-Rod Destroyer
A 1930 Model A Ford Tudor Sedan, built by FH Ellis Coachworks on a repro chassis for Ian Walker, also caught our eye. Based on an original, un-chopped steel body with reproduction glassfibre fenders and running boards, the car displayed a mostly stock exterior matched to vibrant paintwork and modern rolling stock.
Ian Walker took a “resto-rod” approach with his 1930 Model A Ford Tudor Sedan. The original steel body sits on an FH Ellis-built frame, while the fenders and running boards are high-quality, glassfibre reproductions
As for drag racing exhibits, the show was very well catered for, one of the most notable examples of new machinery being the sensational Ford Zephyr Mk 1 Pro-Mod of Ray "Dr Evil" White. This vehicle is completely home-built, from a chassis design by Robinson Race Cars, and earned Ray and his team the Best Engineering trophy at the event.
Ray "Dr Evil" White’s award-winning Pro Mod Mk 1 Zephyr – talk about oozing menace
On the dragster front, Top Fuel driver and former champion, Andy Carter, pressed the flesh during the weekend and explained the intricacies of competing at the highest level of drag racing in the B&Q-backed dragster to an enthusiastic public.
RatCatcher Resurrection - the 70s slingshot originally campaigned by Pat Cuss returns!
The other end of the hall seemed to be a wonderful step back in time with a display of slingshot dragsters (but all recently built), the most notable perhaps being the famed RatCatcher. Renamed RatCatcher Resurrection, the car has been lovingly restored to a very high standard and is a great credit to B&J Race Cars, which built the chassis, as well as to everyone involved in the project.
Want a FED? The B&J car is for sale!
Xtreme Wheels International 2006 may not have been the biggest of shows, but it nonetheless provided proof that the American car scene here in the UK continues to thrive, and the skills of those involved in building vehicles are second to none. It is to be hoped that the organisers are granted their wish and more people get behind the event in future. It is, after all, a great, season-opening showcase, which even the English weather can’t spoil.
Story & photos: Andy Kirk
Additional pictorial selection below
Vince Grant's all-steel Model A coupe is built on a HGHR chassis and was undoubtedly one of the star attractions at the show
Recently-built Havoc altered by Ice Automotive epitomises all that was great about those wild looking and performing fuel altereds
"Hooligan", Chris Manning’s Gasser-style 1957 Chevy station wagon, was a real nostalgia car
There wasn’t a “Suede and Chrome” area at the show, but if there had been, Adrian Upshon’s full-fendered 1932 Ford three-window coupe, finished in matt black, would have been a prime candidate
Jon Webster's rare MG SV is powered by a humble small-block Ford V8 which produces a not so humble 1100hp, thanks to a turbo and engine work by Peter Knight