Sweet homebuilt rides lead to sweet honours for father and son

Mika Verduin poses with the hardware won from 1st place in the custom scooter category in the Grand National Roadster show in California Jan. 24-28. Mika and dad Ben’s award-winning custom-built pickup sits pretty beside the scooter.  - courtesy Verduin family
Mika Verduin poses with the hardware won from 1st place in the custom scooter category in the Grand National Roadster show in California Jan. 24-28. Mika and dad Ben’s award-winning custom-built pickup sits pretty beside the scooter.
— image credit: courtesy Verduin family

Bringing home two awards in an international custom car competition was just the icing on the cake needed for Cowichan Station father and son team Ben and Mika Verduin.

"This was the crown on our projects," father Ben said of winning hardware for their pet projects, a home-built hot rod scooter and their 1952 combo Ford F1 and Viper pickup they've deemed the 52F-IPER.

The boys wallowed in the glory and excitement during the Grand National Roadster show held Jan. 24-28 in Pomoma, California, with Mika taking first in the custom scooter category and Ben bringing home a building award for the Ford/Viper pickup.

"It was just amazing to see that whole circus going," Ben explained of the thousands of people who entered custom wheels in the show or were just popping by to see the variety of projects.

"In the show there were 500 entries inside, and 1,500 entries outside," said Ben, who returned home Sunday. "You come to this place and you get to meet some of the world's top builders.

"It was really a neat atmosphere. It was kind of like a family get-together."

On top of cool builders, the Verduins schmoozed with crew members of '70's cult film American Graffiti, as well as folks from the Happy Days set.

They also bumped into Batmobile and Knightrider KITT car designer George Barris, as well as Overhaulin' TV reality star Chip Foose, who they'd previously met and had sign their scooter and truck at the B.C. Classic and Custom Car Show held in Abbotsford in April.

Ben and Mika collaborated for two years on the scooter, which they named Dutch 1 after their pet dog Dutchy who passed away last year.

And what Foose called the 'Cadillac of all scooters' at the April show, includes a vintage Cadillac tail fin, handle bars from a '59 Cadillac steering wheel, homemade black steel and antique-looking brown leather body and Lambretta engine.

Their pickup, which they're just as stoked about, started as two rusted out parts trucks, a '52 Ford and a '52 Mercury, morphed into the machine it is now, with the truck platform, frame and running gear from a Dodge Viper 500 h.p. sports car.

The truck was rebuilt two feet wider than the '52 model.

"Embedded in the grill are green lasers capable of a five km beam," Ben explained in a previous article in the NLP. "Wild cherry panels with artwork supplied by Laird Campbell run along the outside of the box and form its floor. A custom double tailgate encloses a tool board, and dual exhausts are hidden in the bed rails."

Ben registered both projects with the California show and got the official call they were invited to attend in November.

"It’s one of the world's leading shows and it has gone on for 64 years," he said. "It's one of the longest running indoor shows in the world."

The awards ceremony, with about 500 people in attendance, was like the "Grammies for custom cars," Ben said, noting in particular the big screen projecting images of the winning projects.

"He felt very proud and at the ceremony it was just one big smile on his face," Ben said of son, Mika, 13.

"You should have seen his face when the scooter came on the big screen."

Mika said he couldn't believe what he was seeing.

"No...what... that can't be us," he said of his reaction.

"It was pretty fun," he added of being on stage.

After the show, the Verduin's took the truck for a well-deserved drive through Santa Barbara, cruising past film premiers for Quentin Tarantino and Leonardo DiCaprio.

Mika couldn't pick a favourite moment from the experience.

"It was all so awesome," he said.

Mika and Ben work together on projects from their home-based shop in Cowichan Station.

They many other projects on the go and plan on visiting more shows.

They also welcome folks to stop by their shop to see what they're up to, but would appreciate a call first at 250-715-0426.

Watch a slideshow of photos from their trip here.




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