Cars have come a long way since French inventor Nicolas-Joseph Cugnot first unveiled his fardier à vapeur (stream dray) in 1769. The carbon-steel beauties we see on the streets today are such highly complex machines, that it is hard to imagine constructing one from the ground up. Some 99% of cars are manufactured in factories, but there are a few gifted artisans who can build a car from practically nothing. Their craft is a fascinating blend of design, metalwork, and mechanical expertise.
The Retro Style
This month, the best examples of retro and exotic cars will be exhibited at the 6th Biannual Retro and Exotica Motor Show. Typically displaying some 200 exclusive vehicles in Pushkin Park, near Shulyavka Metro, the show juxtaposes retro cars and high-end sports cars. This contrast illustrates the evolution of the automobile from clumsy steam-engine carts to sophisticated, high-tech vehicles. The three-day show will feature a lively entertainment programme, ancient military vehicles, and educational briefings and brochures for car enthusiasts.
The Handmade Supercar
Oleksandr Stupkin will be noticeably absent from this month’s motor show. Unfortunately, the Ukrainian car genius won’t be able to bring his homemade souped-up Lamborghini Reventon to the Motor Show because he will be attending the finals for Emma 2012 – an international auto upgrades competition.
Oleksandr was invited to participate in the finals after his Mitsubishi-Eclipse-cum-Lamborghini won first place in two categories at the regional auto modifications contest at the Odessa Cup 2012 in August. Since he unveiled his creation, life has been a whirlwind for the jeweller turned grease monkey. He remembers that it all started when he got into a car accident that damaged the car’s front. “At first, I set out to just replace the damaged front of the car. But my father and I got so involved in choosing and creating that part that one thing led to another, and before we knew it, we’d created something unique.”
Sleepless Nights and Welding Equipment
Oleksandr says he spent many sleepless nights sketching new ideas, drawing on his degree in architecture for inspiration. “As the drawings were finished, I decided to start welding parts myself, just as I had drawn them, so that the project would be truly be my own. Since it was a hobby project I was working on for myself, I didn’t worry about spending too much time or money.”
Oleksandr and his father worked on the car for a painstaking two years and eight months before he unveiled it. Putting about $40,000 into the project—including the original price of the car – it’s not a bad investment, considering that some estimates value the car at $2 million. Oleksandr also adds that he’s not ready to abandon his pet project just yet. He still has plans to revamp the car’s sound system, brakes, and maybe even change out the engine for one that will sound exactly like a Lamborghini.
An Uncanny Coincidence
Although Oleksandr is very talented, his idea is not entirely unique. As he was building his jaw-dropping Lamborghini duplicate, a Chinese mechanic named Wang Jian was unwittingly doing the exact same thing. Wang Jian spent even less transforming his Nissan Minivan into a Lamborghini Reventon, dropping about $9,500 total on the project.
History is, after all, full of examples of simultaneous inventions and ideas, such as Frenchman Louis Daguerre and Englishman William Tabot, who simultaneously invented photography in 1840. What really counts is what new projects wait around the bend for these brilliant car aficionados.
Down the Road
After lovingly investing so much of his money and time into this project, Oleksandr has come to the realisation about his career goals, and says, “Now that the car is almost finished, I hope to make this my real profession.” It is unlikely the mechanic will have any trouble finding work with such a head-turner on his new resume. In fact, the car attracts so much attention Oleksandr says he feels a bit nervous when he takes it out for a spin. “It’s crazy! Everyone rubbernecks on the road and if I stop somewhere, everyone wants to take a photo with the car!”
Of course, Oleksandr has had a couple of offers from buyers, but he says that they are just discussions and nothing has been made official. The same is true about orders for new, custom-made cars. “I’ve had a couple of people ask me to do a car for them, but nothing has been finalised.”
Oleksandr says he is more concerned with tapping into his imagination and creating something new and inspiring. “Today I’m more focused on sketching out all the new ideas swirling around in my head. Who knows? Maybe soon I’ll come up with the concept for a future BMW.”
6th Biannual Retro and Exotic Motor Show
Akko International (Pushkin Park, Peremohy 40b)
12 – 13 October 10.00 – 19.00
14 October 10.00 – 17.00
Admission is 45hrv for adults, free for children under 11
Blockbuster, Moskovskiy 34b
27 October 08.00 – 18.00
For ticket prices and more information visit www.emma.net.ua