All car fans dream of the day that they can get behind the wheel of their very own Ferrari or Lamborghini or Jaguar, but these car enthusiasts took it into their own hands to build the cars of their dreams. Although, sometimes their final creations didn’t end up looking like the real thing.
Take a gander and have a laugh at these attempts to build luxury cars from scratch. Some of these attempts might fool you, but most of them are downright embarrassing.
An Offroad Beetle
Maybe this car is the best of both worlds. A compact vehicle that fits into any parking spot and has great mileage, and an off-road vehicle that can take on tough terrain. Hopefully it’s fun to drive, because it’s really an eyesore.
Who’s Up For a Race?
Anyone who has watched “Inspector Gadget” has wondered what it would be like to have a car that looks like this, but the funny thing is that all of these features together won’t increase your car’s speed by much.
C-3PO Wants His Car Back
This tricked out golden wrapped Chevy isn’t for the faint of heart. What this car has in looks it certainly looses in drivability. Those wheels must be tough to turn and might scratch the gold wrap right off of the car.
Who Needs LED Headlights?
This car modification is surely not legal to drive with, but it is sure to catch anyone’s eye at car shows and festivals. These chandeliers probably look odd swinging around as soon as this car picks up speeds of over five miles per hour.
The World’s Longest Truck
This long truck certainly doesn’t prioritize making easy turns. The wheelbase on this truck is over 204 inches, which is the longest available for this model. And, if it wasn’t hard enough to drive already, it’s a manual transmission.
Does This Car Have Gills?
When this car was found in the wild, the first thing the person who took this photo thought was, “I don’t know what’s worse, the gloss paint job or the lateral air intakes that look like fish gills.” Another commenter added that the lateral vents “[double] as a rust accelerator as it will collect dirt and water in there.”
Does This Even Work?
When the person who posted this on Reddit snapped this photo, they simply asked, “does that even work?” The answer may very well be yes, but is it worth it to have to bear the stares of every other person working with a normal plow?
A Long, Long Cadillac
This is what it would look like if a Cadillac could stretch to twice its normal length. The tail fins and paint job are eye catching, but if it’s a front wheel drive, it’ll be hard to pull the weight of the exterior of this long car for too long.
VW Beetle Truck
The paint job and rust on this classic car aren’t the only reasons why this vehicle is such an eyesore. The storage area in the back is alarming at first sight, but hopefully its driver gets some good use out of it.
This car might have been inspired by the Japanese style Bosozoku, but its possibly a bit too tame of a modification to fit in with other cars of that style. The front attachment, hilariously dubbed a “speed bump finder” will make sure that any driver is keeping their distance from the car ahead of them.
This small car doesn’t do a lot to instill fear in anyone who might get in its path. The tank-inspired exterior and wheels are neat, but this seems like a car built for a little green plastic Army man.
Duct Tape Paint Job
Don’t have money for a chrome wrap for your car? Can’t even afford any car paint or the time it would take to do it yourself? That’s where duct tape can come in handy. Simply buy a couple rolls, cover your car in the tape and hope that nobody tries to pick at your car.
Mini Cooper or Corvette?
It looks like this Mini Cooper is trying to disguise itself as another car. Nothing can distract from the fact that it is and always will look exactly like a Mini Cooper, but this at least seems like the owner of the car is having some fun with their vehicle.
Droids on Board
This car modification is only cool if you’re a fan of “Star Wars.” The robot in back looks like it was directly inspired by R2-D2’s successor BB-8, but no one wants to be stuck in traffic behind the guy whose back windshield is permanently obstructed.
More Wheels Don’t Make You Go Faster
You wouldn’t want to get stuck at a red light next to this car. Its massive six wheels don’t distract from the fact that the body of this car seems like it could fall at the drop of a hat.
Better Than a Model T
To get that truly vintage feel for your new car, you’ll need to take some ideas from the turn of the century. Wooden wheels won’t help you drive faster or steer any better, but they’ll really make your new SUV drive like a horse carriage.
This car was made to look like a Ferrari F40, an incredible car in its own right. But, something about this is… off. It could be its boxy structure or the fact that it just looks like a Pontiac dressing up for Halloween, but its obvious that this isn’t the real deal.
Is it One of the Rarest in the World?
The Ferrari F40 was only produced in LHD (left-hand drive), but after a special request from the Sultan of Brunei, seven were produced with RHD, making that model of F40’s the rarest Ferraris ever produced. The car above, of course, isn’t one of them.
Transformers, Pontiac In Disguise
One of the special seven Ferrari F40’s made for the Sultan went on the market for about $80 million because of its scarcity, but something tells me that the car above would sell for much, much less.
You Almost Fooled Us
This Pontiac in disguise doesn’t live up to the allure of an actual Ferrari F40, but it might get some envy around the cul-de-sac for being a truly out of the ordinary vehicle. There might not even be seven cars that look like this one in the world.
This Handmade Mod Job
When this car was posted onto the site Reddit, it was uploaded with the caption, “Every inch tells a story of desperate creativity limited by actual ability.” Ouch. But some people had some nice words about the strange vehicle.
"Like a Muppet Version of a Car"
Another Reddit user who viewed this car maker’s attempt at something incredible commented, “It’s so lumpy and endearing though. Like a muppet version of a car.” Underneath all of that tape there’s actually a Pontiac Fiero.
This is Actually a Honda
This car is another reasonably priced car masquerading as a luxury vehicle. Its owner took a four-door Honda Accord and attempted to transform it into a Lamborghini Aventador, but true car fans can recognize the difference.
It Can't Fool Experts
This car was built by a company called Executive Modcar Trendz and while it may fool some people who see it drive by, other people more well versed in cars notice that its proportions, including a high roof and extreme engine cover angel, are noticeably off.
This Car is In the Middle of a Makeover
This car modification in work is a sight to behold. While transforming the exterior of a normal pickup truck into a vintage Cadillac, its owner decided to drive it down to the gas station to fill up the fuel tank. And while they did, they probably got many confused looks.
This Garage Carmaker Stunned the World
Ken Imhoff isn’t the only person who has made a luxury vehicle without the help of large factories or manufacturers, but his handmade car actually caught the world's attention for his expert craftsmanship. And the story of how he did it will stun you...
There Was a Lot of Trial and Error
Despite his knowledge and fierce determination, Imhoff discovered that building a car was a learn-as-you-go kind of experience and he made a few mistakes here and there, like when he warped the panels by accident. And once the panels were done, it was time to build the frame.
He Built a Frame for the Chassis
The next thing Imhoff built was a frame out of five-and-a-half-inch blocks so he could hold the chassis in place and ensure that the height remained consistent. This was a very important step that needed to be done before Imhoff could work on the vehicle’s body.
He Installed a Sports Car Engine
In the car, Imhoff installed a Ford Cleveland engine, which is the same engine used in a DeTomaso Pantera, a popular mid-engine sports car produced from 1971 to 1993. He also installed a transaxle, the component in a car that performs gear-changing functions, under the hood.
Getting Everything to Align Was Important
He managed to build the oh-so difficult body and upper frame on the support with the chassis. But getting everything to align perfectly was often a nightmare. Fortunately, he was able to make it work and he couldn’t have been prouder with his end result.
He Had to Plan Ahead
Imhoff was able to plan his work and not cause to much stress for himself by welding just a few pieces of the car together at once. A lot of work went into repairing the weld warpage, but he then utilized a method called tacking that helped him keep warpage to a minimum.
He’s a British-Born American
Ken Imhoff was born in Oxford, England, when his father was in the Air Force. Once his dad completed his assignment, the entire family moved back to the United States and settled in Milwaukee, Wisconsin where Imhoff's love for cars grew stronger.
He Has Loved Cars Since He Was a Kid
As you can see from this 1958 photo, Imhoff loved cars from a very young age. His father made this sports car chassis that he used to pretend to drive. His love for motor vehicles became stronger over the years. But there was one car in particular that he loved most of all.
It Was Love at First Sight
Years ago, Imhoff was watching the 1981 film, “The Cannonball Run” starring Burt Reynolds. The film was about a team of competitors that participate in a wild and highly illegal car race across America. The drivers used every dirty trick in the book to become the ultimate winner. But it was one car in particular that later sent Imhoff on a 17-year mission.
Meet the Lamborghini Countach
The Lamborghini Countach was one of the vehicles featured in “The Cannonball Run.” It was slick, slim and futuristic. The design really blew Imhoff's mind. The memory of the vehicle continued to haunt him years after he’d seen the film. He just couldn't get it out of his head!
He Wanted to Make His Fantasy Car Into a Reality
Almost a decade had passed since he had seen the Lamborghini Countach on his TV screen, and after giving it much thought, he was finally ready to turn fantasy into reality. He could have saved up some money to buy one, but he had an even bigger idea in mind.
He Intended to Build His Own Lamborghini Countach
Imhoff wanted to build a Lamborghini Countach from scratch. So, he set up camp in his basement and ventured out on a project that was a bit more challenging than he had anticipated. The process wound up costing lots of money, a few headaches, and plenty of time. Fortunately, he had tons of experience working with metal.
He Had Some Serious Engineering Skills
Imhoff was a pro when it came to metal welding and engineering, but for the technical aspect of building a car, that skill wasn’t enough. It took a lot more to build such a powerful vehicle. Fortunately, he had one important skill and a place to work on his project.
A Wooden Scale Model Came First
The wooden scale model was like the foundation that started the entire car building project on the right foot. Imhoff spent a year working with the wooden model and working his way from the back to the front of the car to get the shape of the aluminum body of the car.
He Chose the Basement Over the Garage
He could have opted to work on his car in the garage but he felt that the basement would protect the vehicle from the harsh winter conditions in the area. This also meant that he could save some money by not having to use the heat in the garage since the basement was already warm.
He Built a Wooden Frame
The project started in September 1990, but it took 17 years, not to mention thousands of dollars, to complete. Imhoff’s first step required him to use a 1:16 scale model to build himself a wooden frame. This helped him measure the shape of the car's body panels.
He Updated Fans Along the Way
Imhoff tracked his building progress on his website, Bull in the Basement, while he was working on his car. On his blog he would describe each step of the building process in detail, showing that he had complete knowledge of every detail that was needed to build this car.
The Panels Were Formed By Hand
With a little help from a forming tool called an English wheel, Imhoff was able to form the car’s panels by hand using aluminum, but it was time consuming. In fact, it took almost a year to create panels to cover the entire frame.
It Was a Major Hands-On Job
The process of manipulating the metal into the shape of the vehicle was done by eye and feel. So even with the help of the English wheel, the process was incredibly complicated. The doors were more difficult, so he saved that job for last. But things didn’t always go as planned.
The Old School Car Was Formed By Hand
The car, which Imhoff described as “eclectic” and “old school” utilized a forming tool called an English well, which was used to form the aluminum parts into complex curves. Imhoff started with the body of the car and saved harder to form pieces, like the doors, for last.
Each Wheel Took 10 Hours to Craft
Imhoff really didn’t take any shortcuts in his building project. While working with a machinist, the wheels were built from thick aluminum. Each wheel took 10 hours of machining to complete and once they were the right shape, they were finished with a black powder coat to give them a sleek look.
He Was Proud of His Work
On his now-defunct website, Bull in the Basement, Imhoff shared how proud he was of the work he had accomplished on the chassis, aluminum body, as well as the inner workings of the vehicle like the muffler. But unlike most cars, this Lamborghini needed not one but two special engine parts.
He Needed Radiators to Keep the Car Cool
Sportscars tend to heat up fairly quickly, so Imhoff had to install two radiators to keep the engine cool. He placed one on each side of the vehicle so that air from the side scoops would enter them easily. But the bodywork of the car was a lot of work, too.
Multiple Layers of Bodywork Were Needed
Before he could paint the vehicle, Imhoff had to start by applying self-etching primer. Then he sealed it with an epoxy primer. He applied another layer of epoxy primer after the custom body work was completed and then he added a high-build primer to finish the job.
It Was Starting to Look like His Dream Car
Although the outer panels and wheels had not been added to the skeletal framework, Imhoff was already seeing his Lamborghini Countach taking shape right before his eyes. But he still needed to add some very important components. Still, the excitement was eating away at him.
This Project Started Many Years Before
Imhoff first got the opportunity to take the measurements of his dream car when a friend who worked at a dealership let him have some up close and personal time with the Lamborghini while the managers of the dealership were on lunch. And it was on that day that Imhoff’s building journey started…
The Measurements Were the First Step
Imhoff described this day as one of the most important steps in his car building journey, because before then he had loved photos and models of cars, but he hadn’t been close enough to measure a sports car of that caliber before.
He Had to Work Quickly in the Dealership
Imhoff took over 100 measurements of the car that day, paying close attention to the unique measurements of the doors, windows and handles of each door. And that information would prove to be very valuable over the next 17 years as Imhoff set to work on his car.
He Needed Professional Help
After adding a fuel cell, the break lines and pedals, Imhoff transported each of the 33 shell pieces back and forth to an off-site booth to have a professional paint them. Since he could only do one piece at a time, the entire process took 25 hours. But Dale, a friend who was helping him with his project, had an even rougher job.
A Machinist Lent Him a Hand
Imhoff handed the blueprints of the car to his machinist friend, Dale, who spent 10 hours turning the two-inch-thick metal sheet into its completed form. But there was still much more tweaking to do on the car before it was completed.
Other Components Were Installed
After the body of the car was sealed, more components were installed including fuel cells, pedals, brake lines and wiring. Imhoff also had to make sure during this step that the doors of the car would be able to open and close securely, otherwise he might have to start his building process from the beginning.
The Task Was Never Really Finished
Even after the car was excavated, there was more work to be done, including getting tires installed on the car and more work on the engine itself. But, Imhoff said of the experience, “The task is never finished really. There is always something new that can be improved on. I wouldn’t have it any other way.”
He Still Had Work to Do Before He Could Drive It
Imhoff reinforced the rear carriers and fixed a couple of other issues such as the leaking coolant. Then he replaced the spark plugs and improved the engine’s performance. But when the car was finally finished, he ran into a major snag.
They Had to Excavate the Car Out of the Basement
After 17 years, Imhoff was finally finished with the project in 2008, but there was one major issue. The car was trapped in the basement, so he hired an excavator to break the wall. The process took 90 minutes, and at the end of it he finally had a way to get the car out of the house and do what he had been dreaming about doing for years.
His Father Helped Start the Engine
Imhoff’s father, who helped start his son’s love of cars, came out to see the completed project and help his son wire the car’s engine so it would start. And in this moment, Ken and his father felt the satisfaction of a job well done because the car nearly shook them to their cores.
The Engine Was Ready to Start
Imhoff was surprised by not only the fact that the car was running as intended after being built solely in a basement, but by how loud and booming it sounded. Speaking to Miller Welders, he said, “I thought it blew up, it was so loud.”
Practically Everything Was Handmade
Just about every component of the vehicle had been handmade by Imhoff with just a little help from his friends. Even the Lamborghini doors, which open by lifting them up not by pulling them, were handmade by Imhoff.
He Shared His Expertise
Not only was Imhoff an inspiration to his community, but his car was something to marvel at. So, he allowed people to marvel as much as they wanted by taking the vehicle to car shows and conventions for a few months after the project was complete.
People Marveled at His Car
While the car was being shown, Imhoff would take to the stage to speak about his feat of engineering and the perseverance it took to complete such a daunting task. He and his wife Eileen talked to newspapers, radio stations and other audiences about how building this car changed their lives.
His Wife Lent a Hand with the Car, Too
Ken’s wife Eileen was also a great helper in making the car a reality. While they were still dating, Eileen lent Ken money to buy a transmission and Ken started work on the Lamborghini just after the couple’s honeymoon, proving that a love of cars is in both of their hearts.
He Didn’t Want to Continue to Maintain the Vehicle
While some people might think that it’s crazy to sell the car that Imhoff spent so many years painstakingly building, he didn’t think it was so strange. He didn’t want to keep up with the mounting costs of maintaining the vehicle and now that it no longer fit in the basement, he would have had to put an addition on his garage to store it.
In 17 Years, a Lot Changed in His Life
The building of the car also culminated with many pivotal moments in Imhoff’s life. When he first started building the car, he spent so many countless hours in the basement that he started to strain his relationship with his family.
The Car Became a Symbol of Perseverance
Imhoff, who underwent treatment for stage 4 cancer in 2014, initially put the car up for sale on eBay, but a Wisconsin pastor named Doug Redford changed his mind and convinced him to take what he had created on the road as a ministry tool to represent a message of faith, family, and most importantly, perseverance.
He Learned that Family Comes First
After his wife pleaded with him, Imhoff began to spend more time away from his project and more time with his family, which proved to be the right choice. And that’s why the project took so many years to finish. But Imhoff wasn’t the only person working on the car.
His Kids Helped Out, Too
Imhoff’s wife also assisted him in building the car because it took many hands to lift some heavy pieces of machinery. By the time Ken’s kids got old enough, they were able to assist their father too.
His Daughter Gave Him a Scare
And Imhoff had many moments of realization while making this car, like when his daughter got sick and was nearly paralyzed. After she recovered, Imhoff realized that his family was a lot more important than any car.
The Car Was Like an Emotional Scar
In the end, Imhoff decided to part ways with his car for good because it reminded him of all of the turmoil he went through in all of the years it took him to build it. In 2014, he said, “It was a scar I was wearing in my heart. Every time I looked at it, it reminded me of who I used to be.”
The Car Wasn’t a Priority
Imhoff was reminded of his life’s priorities while he was building the car and he liked to use it as a symbol to teach other people to do the same in their lives. Because in the end some great things can be built once you figure those things out.
He Sold the Vehicle, Anyway
Despite all the years he spent working on the vehicle and Pastor Reford’s advice, the Lamborghini Countach was eventually sold to a new owner in Miami in September 2016. There’s no word on whether Imhoff’s health improved, but his project remains a symbol of perseverance for seeing the project through to the end.
The Love of Cars Was Passed to Another Generation
It was Imhoff’s father’s love of cars that originally started Ken on a path of building this car and it was his wife and children that actually helped him physically build the vehicle, proving to Imhoff that family was the most important thing to him.
He Still Loves All Things Cars
Just because Imhoff sold his incredible vehicle, doesn’t mean he has lost his love of everything that runs on four wheels. He still keeps himself occupied by modifying cars and viewing sports cars, just like the one that first sparked his interest as a child.
Attention Came With a Few Unexpected Costs
Of course, this story wasn’t one that people ignored, but with the added attention came some unseen circumstances. For instance, with many more people visiting Imhoff’s website, he soon had to ask for donations to pay mounting internet service costs.
He Couldn't Keep Up With His Blog
Because his website was just a hobby of his, Imhoff couldn’t justify paying over $900 a month instead of the usual $8 a month to keep the site online. But even though his website and blog is no longer live, people all over the world still hear about his magnificent car.
Donations Did Come In
Through videos and articles, Imhoff will forever be known for his terrific feat of manufacturing. But the public reaction was something that Imhoff never envisioned for himself and the public outreach to his request for donations was enough to keep the site online for a while.
The Lambo Doesn't Make the Man
People might expect that a man with a Lamborghini in his garage would be able to pay any price for luxuries straight out of his pocket. But this story really proves that its determination and hard work that will win people the finer things in life.