Sydney Hot Rod & Custom Auto Expo 2021

Iain Kelly chooses his 13 favourite rides from the 2021 Sydney Hot Rod and Custom Auto Expo

Wide-body Monaro
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HELD at Rosehill Gardens Racecourse near Parramatta, the Hot Rod and Custom Auto Expo has filled the gap left by Meguiar’s MotorEx and established itself as Sydney’s primo indoor show.

Telfo set me the task of choosing my top 10 rides from the nearly 300 cars on display. With low-riders, pro streeters, high-tech pro tourers, bad-arse hot rods, restored classics, drag cars and more on show, the best I could do was get it down to 13.

This is of course,  just the tip of the iceberg, stay tuned for more!

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Photos: Mark Bean & Dean Morton

On debut after a 12-year build, Peter Sharp’s widebody HQ Monaro is a car that tested the metal maestros at Down Town Kustoms but the result is worth it.

The late-model-inspired cabin hides huge engineering smarts, while the custom Forgeline wheels and Harrop brakes hint at the car dubbed SHQRP’s epic performance potential.

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Another DTK-built beauty, Glenn Smith’s ‘79 F100 is pretty much my dream daily driver. With a heavily modified chassis (packing custom IFS, four-link rear and air suspension), a supercharged 5.0-litre Miami V8 and plus all the mod cons inside the cabin, this commercial is built to drive.

Unlike many airbagged trucks, the F100’s tray still has plenty of space for hauling frothies, and even has a couple of lock-boxes to securely stow your precious cargo!

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Curtis Grima drove his ’63 Ford F100 up from Melbourne and we’re damn glad he did. Wild 60s Bellflower-style paint, with sweet touches like Econoline headlights, chrome Astro Supreme rims and worm-burning ride height make this absolutely my cup of bourbon-laced sweet tea.

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I was stoked to see this ’69 Camaro pro tourer, built by Image Conversions in the flesh. With an Art Morrison chassis, independent rear-end, Recaro seats and a 750hp quad-cam seven-litre Mercury Racing SB4 under the bonnet, it matches supercars-stomping abilities with show car fit and finish.

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Chris Palazzo’s Willys gasser packs a blown Hemi, sky-high stance, and a beautiful hand-formed metal interior put together with the help of SMOTY-winner Aaron Gregory. Can’t wait to see this thing wheels-up at Sydney Dragway!

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John McCoy-Lancaster’s ‘57 Chevy Nomad looks like a bone-stocker at first glance, but conceals a ton of updates thanks to the crew at Maskell’s Customs and Classics. We’re talking about a disguised EFI 480hp LS3, four-speed auto, air, steer and all manner of modern upgrades. It even has Apple CarPlay on a screen that pops out of the dash!

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Peter Gruyters has built a stack of very rad hot rods over the years and his’ 1932 Ford coupe looks like it was sprung from the shed of Billy F Gibbons. Based around heavily modified ’32 frame and a steel body, the coupe packs a 572ci Kaase big-block, a Tremec five-speed and Winters quick change rear.

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Originally rodded in the 1960s, this ’39 Plymouth coupe was rebuilt as a menacing black drag coupe by Mario Colalillo decades ago. After Mario’s untimely passing in 2019, son Andy has rebooted it as a tough Pro Streeter  

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I consider Buick’s personal luxury coupe of the mid-60s one of GM’s all-time best designs, but there is always room for improvement! 

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Flames on old school cars are super-cool and Jason Kennedy’s single spinner has righteous attitude! The build has involved some of the best in the biz, including a roof chop by BMV, clean trim by Northcoast Custom Trim, the LS drivetrain and airbag suspension by Aaron Gregory at Memphis Hell and that crazy flamed paint by KDS Designs.

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LX Torana hatchbacks have always whispered sweet nothings to me and the 1525hp twin-turbo 440ci small-block Chev in this one really clicks my gears. The orange Nappa leather trim by Simon Judd at Elite Custom Interiors and custom billet 20x8.5in and 20x10in three-piece Koya wheels seal the deal for me.

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Featured on the cover of Street Machine, January 2021, Dean Rickard’s HT is another top notch ride out of Down Town Kustoms. Check out the full story here.

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Diggers are awesome, and Joe Kurtovic’s rail is one of the most-nicely presented pieces of old school engineering fronting Aussie drag strips. For the 2021 Nostalgia Lane display he won all the cool points by replacing the hot Holden six with an ex Don Garlits Hemi!

STOP PRESS: I know we said 13 cars, but we can't help ourselves. Max McGinnis brought this freshly-built '39 Chevrolet bomb up from Melbourne and took out the Top Lowrider, Rosehill Racecourse Choice and Viejito's Club Choice awards. 

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Massive props also to Brian and Maureen Imlach from Devenport in Tasmania! Their 1934 Chev nailed Top Hot Rod, Top Sedan, Top Interior, Top Paint, Top Display, Top Undercarriage and Top Engine bay. A stunning achivement and a credit to the crew at Deluxe Rod Shop. We'll have a full feature soon. 

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Hardtop Demon is Leonidas Mortakis' wild 440ci big-block-powered '69 VF Valiant. Dripping in custom Baslac candy brown, with mini-tubbed front and rear-ends to house 20x9 and 20x11 two-piece billet Ferrada FR24 wheels, and an A833 Hemi four-speed trans providing some fun.

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