In this “Ten Questions With” article, we’re chatting with Josh Powers of Custom Image Corvettes. Josh recognized pent up demand for custom C3 Corvettes. Since he likes these cars, lots of other people must like them also. It’s that simple. It’s nice to see the C3 Corvette getting time in the spotlight. With curvaceous flares, fat tires and a host of modern technology, C3 Corvettes can deliver world-class performance. Josh Powers practices what he preaches by building fast, capable cars with a luxurious, tailor-made vibe.
RideTech: Did you grow up in a car family or did you find the hobby on your own?
Josh Powers: I did grow up in a car family. My grandfather started working at Avis Rental Cars when he was young. He moved up through the ranks and moved to a few different companies where he managed several fleet leasing contracts. Eventually, he became Vice President of a multi-billion dollar leasing company that was ultimately bought out by Ford. My dad has been into cars or anything mechanical since birth. My grandma used to hide the toasters when he was a kid because dad was always taking them apart. My father is an ASE certified master mechanic. He was always bringing cars home to work on for friends. My favorites were the Pontiac Trans AM or C4 Corvette that belonged to one of my mom’s friends. I was always by his side learning as much as I possibly could. My grandpa called it ” being a sponge”. Even if you can’t do anything, just absorb everything and pay attention. I was always bringing cars home. My dad almost always told me to bring it back where it came from because it was a piece of junk. I didn’t realize how much I knew about cars until I moved out, was on my own and I had to start working on them by myself. When I did…, it wasn’t as hard as I expected. I swear my dad trained me the way Mr. Miyagi trained Daniel Larusso from the film “Karate Kid”.
RideTech: What was your first car?
Josh Powers: My first vehicle was a pea green 1969 Chevrolet Pickup. I bought it for $350 and literally had to drag it home. I was only 14 years old. I didn’t even have my drivers license yet. I wanted to get a head start so that my truck would be ready when I got my license. Man, when I look back, that truck was such a piece of crap, but it was my piece of crap and I loved it!
RideTech: If you could build or buy any car for yourself, what would it be?
I would love to build a late 80’s 911 Porsche with a modern twist. That was my favorite car when I was growing up. The big whale tail and the flares…, I just can’t get enough, that car is what made me fall in love with flared Corvettes. The bigger the flares the better. If I could buy any car, I would love to have a newer Porsche 911 GT3 and I would drive it every day and race it too!
Ridetech: Can you point to one or two custom car builders who inspired you?
Josh Powers: I would have to say that Ringbrothers and the Roadster Shop are my favorite builders. I just love the attention to detail and uniqueness of their cars. These builders are always pushing the envelope of design and innovation while still paying respect to the car that is being built. Muscle car/truck + pro touring + race car = perfection in my book.
Ridetech: When a build is “finished” what steps do you take to make sure the car is sorted before handing it over to its owner?
Josh Powers: This is a process that is continuously improving at Custom Image Corvette. We document the build process and create a binder of all of the manuals for the parts that were installed on the car as well as custom schematics for the electrical system. We keep a copy of the book for ourselves so that it is easier to diagnose any issues in the future. We do numerous test drives with each car. Then after about 100 miles, we put every car on one of our lifts and “nut & bolt” the entire car. We even mark the fasteners so that we can be sure that we checked them. It seems like we can never put enough miles on our builds before they leave, because the owners are very excited to get their cars home. We try to get at least 250 miles on it but 500 would be better!
Ridetech: Do you think it is getting easier or more difficult for enthusiasts and shops to build cool cars?
Josh Powers: I think it is getting easier to build cars or at least sell people on the idea of having their own custom-tailored car for a few reasons. Technology is progressing at an unbelievable rate in the aftermarket and there are so many cool parts and ideas and people that are willing to share knowledge and information. One of the biggest factors is the customers, themselves. I would say in the last few years there has been a huge shift in people’s mindset. Enthusiasts are less interested in trailer queens or show-only cars. They want cars that they can drive and drive often with all of the modern conveniences that their new cars have. The aftermarket, including Ridetech and our own line of Custom Image Corvette products, are making all of those things possible.
Ridetech: Muscle Cars, trucks or pre-55 hot rods? Put those in your personal order of preference.
Josh Powers: I would put them in the same order that you asked. Corvettes, Camaros and Chevelles — those cars are my favorite, but they have to be pro-touring/race car-styled. Secondly, I like a 40s, 50s patina pickup or a nice square body short bed with lots of power, big wheels and air ride. Lastly, for a Hot Rod, it would be a 1937 Ford Vicky with a slanted grille & full fenders that my wife & I can just cruise down PCH in and enjoy the drive.
Ridetech: What inspired you to build fender flares? Form, function or both?
Josh Powers: The idea of flares came from my never ending quest for power. I had just put a 416 LS stroker motor in my 1982 Corvette and I told myself that the car needed bigger tires. So, I bought the biggest tire I could find — a 335-30-18, and put it under the car. I saw how much it stuck out of the freshly body-worked fenders that my dad had just finished, and then we just cut them off! We had tried a few sets of aftermarket flares but just never found anything that we liked. I kept looking at pictures of flared cars and kept coming back to the C6 Z06 and L88 flared C3 vettes. I told my dad that I wanted the size of the L88 flares, but the refinement of the C6 Z06. So with about 5 gallons of bondo, some cardboard and a very chopped up L88 flare, we came up with a shape that we thought suited the car. Everything from that point forward is history. The flares caught on like wildfire and have been our top seller since we started offering them. I ship them all over the world!
Ridetech: Do you prefer hand-fabrication or technology like CNC machines and rapid prototyping?
Josh Powers: I do love working with my hands. However, I was a draftsman for 12 years before building cars, so I definitely love CNC machines. If I had the means, I would have a CNC mill, lathe and a large scale 3D printer and 3D scanner. I have so many things I would make if I had access to those tools. They are definitely long term goals.
Ridetech: Outside of custom cars, what is your favorite hobby or activity?
Josh Powers: Ever since my hobby became my job, I had to find a new hobby. I have always been good at construction and fabrication. I like to build rustic man caves with reclaimed materials and items I have acquired from picking. I also like to build furniture out of rusted or patina metal or car parts.
Ridetech: BONUS Question: If the world were coming to an end “Mad Max”-style, what one car would you drive?
Josh Powers: Oh that one is easy. I would have a Ripsaw Super Tank!
To visit Custom Image Corvettes, click HERE.
For the Eric Fleming 71 Corvette Chevy Hi-Performance article, visit SuperChevy.com HERE
Be Part of Ridetech’s Ten Questions With” Series
Ridetech celebrates its valued dealers by showcasing their automotive creations and innovative thinking. Ridetech provides access to its large audience. If you would like to be considered for the “Ten Questions With” series, please email stevenATridetech.com. We will respond with a list of questions and set up a time to chat. Be prepared to provide photos of completed vehicle projects, your shop, your first car and anything else that we might request — including embarrassing childhood pictures.