Go For The Gold! Goodguys 2023 SEMA Gold Award Winners
After a three-year hiatus, Goodguys was happy to bring the glitter of the Goodguys Gold Awards back to the SEMA Show! These prestigious trophies represent the highest standard of hot rod and custom car building and are some of the top honors bestowed on fresh builds at the SEMA Show.
Goodguys Gold Awards give us a chance to recognize incredible Goodguys-style rides showcased at SEMA – cars and trucks that we look forward to having at Goodguys events in the coming season. Our team scoured the show halls to find what we consider to be the Top Five rides on display, which was no easy feat. Awards were presented to builders at their respective vehicles on Wednesday and announced via social media. We think you’ll agree that these fine rides are most deserving of taking home the gold!
Steve Aguilar – 1967 GTO – Sean Smith Designs
Owner Steve Aguilar and designer Sean Smith know a thing or two about top-shelf street machines – the ’71 Camaro they teamed up on a few years ago became the Goodguys 2021 Griot’s Garage Muscle Machine of the Year! The “Twisted” ’67 GTO showcases a similar level of refinement in its full-custom construction.
This gorgeous Goat is based on a Roadster Shop Fast Track chassis with an independent rear suspension assembled by BND Performance using ARP fasteners and big-inch Baer disc brakes. It rolls on custom-designed wheels inspired by the original Rally IIs and machined by EVOD with nickel plated and cerekote accents. A 1100-horsepower Whipple-supercharged Dart 427c.i. LS engine is nestled snugly in the chassis and sends power through a 4L80E transmission from ATD.
Subtle mods abound on the body, like tucked and reshaped bumpers, a modified hood, and custom-machined grille, headlight surrounds, taillight bezels, and other pieces. Hot Rods & Custom Stuff gets credit for the metal massaging, bodywork and gorgeous paint, while Sew Cal Rods handled the much-modified interior with a one-off dash and console, BMW seats, and elegant red leather upholstery.
Ringbrothers – 1969 Dodge Charger
The dynamic duo of Mike and Jim Ring, known as Ringbrothers, regularly debuts new rides at SEMA and this year it was a bitchin’ black ’69 Charger dubbed “Tusk” in honor of its 1,000-horsepower Hellephant crate engine.
Designed by Gary Ragle, the Charger is built on a custom Roadster Shop Fast Track chassis with an independent rear suspension, Baer brakes, and a stretched wheelbase moving the front wheels 2-inches forward. The one-off 19x10x5-inch front wheels from HRE are paired with 20×13-inch rears and wrapped in Michelin rubber. The supercharged Hellephant engine is set back 2.5-inches and augmented with custom headers leading to Borla mufflers. A Bowler-prepped T56 Magnum backs up the beefy engine.
Custom front fenders not only relocate the wheel openings forward, but also incorporate billet vents behind the wheels, taking the place of the factory faux vents deleted from the doors. Carbon fiber and billet details abound, while the metal is bathed in BASF Glasurit “Black to the Future” paint. The interior pays tribute to the factory design, with black leather on modern bucket seats stitched in a similar pattern to the originals, plus an updated console, pistol-grip shifter, and gauge cluster.
Jared Hancock – 1978 Jeep Cherokee – J-Rod & Custom
Vintage SUVs and four-wheel-drive vehicles have been coming on strong lately, and that was more evident than ever this year at the SEMA Show. The team at J-Rod & Custom definitely knocked it out of the park with this ’78 Jeep Cherokee Chief, which maintains a stock vibe while incorporating a wealth of modern upgrades and details.
Designed with the help of Eric Black, the Jeep is based on a custom Art Morrison chassis with updated coil-over suspensions, 14-inch Baer disc brakes with six-piston calipers, and custom-painted 17×8.5-inch Fifteen52 “Patrol” wheels wrapped in chunky BFGoodrich rubber. A 6.0-liter GM Connect and Cruise L96 crate engine is paired to a 6L80E transmission and dressed like a vintage mill.
Subtle but substantial exterior mods include a custom flush-mounted panoramic glass roof, a custom roof rack, many minor nips and tucks, and a brilliant metallic gold PPG finish with painted graphics. There’s more of the same inside, with a custom symmetrical dash, one-off trim, and two-tone upholstery by McFarland Upholstery. The J-Rod team also earned the HRIA Evolution of Hot Rodding award for this incredible build.
East Bay Muscle Cars – 1968 Ford Mustang
The team at East Bay Muscle Cars is well versed in building badass custom rides that perform to a high level and are loaded with innovative one-of-a-kind details. They keep the streak going with “Rampant,” a slick ’68 Mustang six years in the making.
This pony is more sure-footed than ever thanks to a Roadster Shop Fast Track chassis, complete with an independent rear suspension, coil-over shocks, big Baer brakes, and massive Forgeline 19×8.5- and 20×12-inch “SS1R” center-lock wheels with a titanium finish. Power comes from an Edelbrock-supercharged Gen 2 Coyote V8 generating nearly 800-horsepower and decked out with a custom supercharger top and many one-off pieces.
Speaking of one-off parts, East Bay made extensive use of scanning, CNC machining, and 3D printing technology to craft a long list of custom parts for the body, from the one-piece carbon fiber nose to the custom scoops and flush-fit rear bumper and taillights. The ruby red paint by Compani Color is simply stunning, as is the full-custom cabin that incorporates a one-off dash and console with many more CAD-designed custom pieces, along with finely stitched white leather upholstery.
Bernard Steimann – 1963 Chevy C10 – Kindig-It Designs
Some people may be skeptical of custom builds done on TV shows, but every vehicle we’ve seen from Kindig-It Designs and the Bitchin’ Rides show has been a high-quality showpiece that can stand on its own next to builds from any top shop. That’s certainly true of this ’63 C10 built for Bernard Steimann.
The classic truck is based on a Scott’s Hotrods ’n Customs chassis with air springs, a four-link rear suspension, and Wilwood 14-inch disc brakes. Kindig designed the 21×9- and 22×12-inch wheels, which were machined by EVOD and wrapped in Michelin rubber. Those Hilborn injector stacks poking through the hood are controlled by a Holley EFI system and feed a 572c.i. big block Chevy built by Joe Gibbs Racing and backed by a 4L80E transmission.
The body was treated to substantial smoothing and a reconfigured hood that no longer wraps halfway down the fenders. Shaved rain gutters, modified bumpers, and custom side trim were all part of the plan before the AkzoNobel Black Ice paint was applied. The inside is equally cool with a custom console, Dakota Digital gauges, and red leather diamond-stitched upholstery by JS Custom Interiors.
Photos by Steven Bunker & Damon Lee