On the way to the airport I remembered Sema was going to be on whilst I was in LA. I couldn’t be that close to all that custom madness and not go to Vegas so we sorted tickets and decided to work it into the trip. I hate planning too many things and much prefer last minute adventures anyway, so this worked out perfectly.

I’ve never been to Vegas and because this was a mad dash there wasn’t much time to do anything other than visit Sema. But this time round that’s fine by me! So we rode to Vegas on the Indian Chieftain – we stopped a few times on the way to stretch because that’s a long trip on a bike! But it was the perfect bike for this adventure, the saddle bags allowed us to take everything we needed and the audio system supplied the soundtrack (more details on this bike in my previous Hollywood post).

As soon as we got there we met up with Magnus Walker and went to the Hot Wheels party – I’m a huge Hot Wheels fan so it was epic to meet the team. We also met some other custom TV folk from Speed Is The New Black, it was so fun to trade stories about trying to build custom cars and bikes for television – turns out it’s not easy for anyone!

We had one full day at Sema and there were a couple of people I really wanted to talk to so we aimed for them but then plans went to pot. I got distracted at every turn and Sema is absolutely huge – I can’t begin to explain how big this trade show is! Plus Goblin Works Garage was very well received in America (yay!) so we got stopped every few minutes by lovely petrol heads wanting to talk to us about the show. I always say this about my stateside visits but I want to reiterate how positive, encouraging, friendly and inspiring the people we meet here are. We all get bashed for what we do and working in the custom scene in the UK is extremely difficult. People are waiting to rip you off at every turn, which is a huge shame. But – from what I’ve experienced – the vibe is very different in the US.

One of the main aspects I noticed from the show was the use of carbon fibre on custom classics AND newer models. I love carbon fibre and using it on classics in place of chrome in some cases works so well – in the right way, on the right car. I’ve had that juxtaposition in my head for a while but to see it in actuality is super helpful. One of the other custom movements I noticed is the use of Retro neutral paint colours pared with modern features. For example bronze metallic gloss paint with carbon fibre. Also candy colours with satin finish metal work, such as lime green with gunmetal grey. For me it’s all about balance; classics modernised tastefully, clutter stripped back and form marrying together with function. Don’t get me wrong, I love a bit of Max Power renaissance, but everything has its place and everything I work on visually has to be balanced. The tricky part is being truely different – it’s very hard to reimagine a classic in a totally new way. So I just go with my vision, head for the impossible then reign it all back in where necessary. Hoping to carve a path.

I mentioned I love Hot Wheels so it was a big treat to see some life size Hot Wheels builds. It’s a widely sought after dream to have your car turned into a Hot Wheels – one day I hope to realise that dream as well!

My regular readers or viewers of Goblin Works Garage will know I’m a huge classic Ford fan. I’ve also developed a rising obsession with classic BMWs. But I also love Japanese cars – I’m working on a MK1 MX5. Really, if you’re a petrol head, a proper one, your love of cars and bikes isn’t restricted to one manufacturer or model. Appreciation is broad – depending on your purpose for said hellion. That’s pretty much illustrated in all the photos we took at Sema. I appreciate all custom work, I know how much effort, time, passion and money people put into their projects and I salute every single one of you good people. Hence the vast amalgamation of custom snaps!

Finally I have to mention some more of the epic people we met at Sema. Andreas and Al from Overhaulin’, who we hung out with on Halloween – braving Freemont Street and all the clowns! Andrew from Junkyard Empire, all the lovely peeps from Motor Trend who made us feel very welcome and part of the family, all the wonderful custom fans who took the time to chat to us and ask us about Goblin Works Garage, all the suppliers and manufacturers who answered our questions and all our friends who were at Sema too. What a crazy, incredible, inspiring few days! Until next time Vegas.

Photos taken on my Huawei P20 Pro by Anthony Partridge and myself.

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