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MECHANIC CONVERTS $400 RUST BUCKET INTO AMERICA'S BEST CUSTOM CAR

3/29/2018
BY JOHN BALSON
JF Launier, 39, spent 22,000 hours and $300,000 pimping out a 1964 Buick Riveria - even remortgaging his parents' house as well as his own to finance the project.  

But the risk paid off when the finished article - named Rivision - won the Ridler award for America’s most creative and innovative custom car at the 2014 Detroit Autorama.

Its value has also jumped with Mr Launier estimating it to be worth at least $1.65m in man-hours alone.

He said: "Building this car was a lot of blood, sweat and tears but it's everything I wanted in a car.

"I have drag-raced the car, road-raced in it and now it's won the biggest award in the world [The Ridler award].

"But I also drive my kids to school in it and take them for ice-cream in it."

The car, which has hits speeds of 155mph, was built over the course of six years with the Canadian adding thousands of modifications to the original 1964 Buick Riviera body.

He fitted a 1971 Riviera roof with its iconic shape and sloped rear window to the 1964 chassis.

The car was shortened by removing sheet metal behind the doors and rear-wheel openings.

The front-wheel openings were moved forward to make space for a 6.2 litre twin turbo-charged Chevrolet V8 engine.

The exterior of the car was finished in school bus yellow, and the interior is a rich chocolate brown.

The vehicle was Mr Launier's fourth attempt at the Ridler Award in 16 years.

He said: "When I was 21 I had a 64 Riviera and sold it to start my first business but I always thought I was going to have another one one day - I just didn't know I was going to take it this far.

"Rivision started off as a $400 rusty car which someone had discarded and it really wasn't worth anything.

"It's a hard journey to explain but I took that $400 rusty car and created the world's best custom car.

"I spent everything I could afford on it. My parents' house got remortgaged, my house got remortgaged.

It was tough. I always felt like giving up. There wasn't a day that I didn't feel like it was too much, like we had taken on too much and we had gone too far with it.

"It was always a battle to buy parts and to find enough time in the week to work on it.

"You have to be prepared to give up everything for a long time."

And despite his passion for the vehicle, he would consider selling the four-seater - as long as he was able to continue sharing it.

Mr Launier, who runs JF Kustoms in Osoyoos, British Columbia, Canada, said: "The car is very polarising. There are people that love it and hate it. There is no one in the middle.

"Doing the maths, it's 22,000 hours at $75-an-hour shop rate so you are looking at a million-and-a-half dollars just in hours. It would be an expensive car to purchase from me.

"I'd only consider selling if it was the right guy and we could enjoy the car together."

 
 
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