2016, A Year in review, What did we do?

So, what did Customs -N- Classics do this year?

What, if anything, did we accomplish?

I’m glad you asked!

We started with a dream, well, actually, I started with a dream, to do written interviews with car owners, those who don’t make it to the magazines or car TV shows, but, who are the heart and soul of our small town, community car shows. Those who have spent their hard earned money and their precious time in restoring or rebuilding a car, just so others can see it. That was the start of my dream, my desire to write about and take pictures of the vehicles we all love to see and know about.

I have to stop here, because, there is a lot of little things going on in the background that you may never know about, unless you meet me at a show. I have a lot of support from some amazing people.

My wife, Mary Lou, has been great. I think she sees that this is bringing my son and I together, so she feigns interest and that is encouraging to me. I tell her what is happening and she tells me how good it is.

Where would I be without my church family. Shore Christian Fellowship, in Queenstown, MD. The Pastor, Pastor Tom Chandler and the elders have allowed me to twist their ears off with this and they smile and listen. It has been great.

Now, back to our regularly scheduled end of year post.logo

Of course, I launched with an article on Wes Malek’s Jeep. Still unfinished, as Wes just graduated college and is looking at his future and what options there are. I look forward to seeing it finished in the future, but, I am not seeing it as a 2017 article. We will be watching for you to finish, though, Wes. (Go ahead and click the link above, we’ll wait for you to read the article. We won’t go anywhere, we are patient like that.)14111655_1807494912815687_2037460678_n

Now, as with any good dream, it is always fun to add more people to your path, whether they are along for the ride, or are a part of your destination. I did just that. I added my oldest son, Aaron, to the mix. It became a father/son team and we ran with it. (Of course, my 3 boys are usually with me at the car shows, but, they just want to look at the cars and play, my teenager, however, has gotten to like taking pictures and videos, so this became an outlet we could both draw closer together with.) Aaron helped with the first 5  video interviews, which have replaced my poor attempt at just taking pictures and trying to remember everything about each car. Our first 5 videos are up, on YouTube, for you to check out. (Make sure you subscribe, as we will be having more videos throughout 2017)

After Aaron and I took to the car shows, gathered photos and video footage, I began to edit and post. Didn’t see much happening, then, I realized that there was another person who might work into this plan I had. One of the older teens at my church was into stop motion videos and creating videos for YouTube, so, I asked him if he would come along and help us, maybe get Aaron up to a point where he could take over, since this teen would probably be going to college and would not be able to do it anymore.

Jacob agreed and is now the production manager at Customs N Classics. He took the last 2 videos that Aaron and I shot and made them very nice. (Video 1, Video 2) He also did the video and voice over for a video we did for an Artist, David Chesnutt, a cartoon artist out of Sterling Heights, Michigan.

Now, during this time, I didn’t just sit here and do nothing, I created a Twitter account that has grown quite large and a Facebook page that is also growing quite large. I am working on Instagram and Pinterest.

We also have begun to partner with Racers for Christ, a Christian ministry that serves NASCAR and NHRA as well as smaller tracks and events, and an offshoot ministry, Rodders for Christ, which serves the car shows and ride in’s.

We have posted many times a link to a ministry that we feel very strongly about, GoServ Global. They do real ministry, build housing, teach farming techniques, genuinely help those in areas that are to poor to do for themselves. Haiti is the area we learned about them because of a team from our church, (Of which, my son Aaron, was a part.) This ministry could use all of the help they can get, so check them out and invest.


Tobias Mann

One of the biggest events for Customs N Classics has been adding a guest author to the blog. Tobias Mann, Author of Adventure Bent blog, came along and wrote a great piece on the Jeep Wrangler. I would highly suggest you go over and check out his blog, he has some great outdoor adventure articles and wonderful insight. I am so glad he chose to write for us.

To end this wonderful year, I am hoping to see my Twitter account reach 1000 and the Facebook page to go over 200. These are small milestones, but, we just went live August 22, 2016. A little over 4 months and we have a following worth more than you can imagine and a site worth writing for.

What will I do next year?

Wow, such good questions, you have. Well, let’s just say, I want to go big!

I want 2017 to be the year that my son and I share the Gospel with people. That this platform God is giving us will be used to minister to people, which means that we will pray for people and share hope. (The Gospel)

I want to see more Christian car owners share their testimonies with us, on video. So that the car community can see that being a car nut and being a Christian are NOT exclusive to each other, but, can actually be a great place to be.

I am hoping we can cover more artists and possibly some of the custom shops in the area. Maybe get them to share their stories of how they started and show some of their favorite builds.

One of the biggest written interviews will hopefully be coming from across the great pond, (The Atlantic Ocean). One Man and a Mustang. I look forward to working with him on that.

I’m thinking that I have shared enough. It is still 2016, until 12:01 am, so, I hope your safe and with family and friends.

So, let me just say, goodbye 2016, you’ve been a good year, I expect you will be a good memory. I appreciate what time you’ve offered up for me to use.

Hello, 2017, I look forward to stepping into the time you have available and exploring it. I expect great things from you, because, to expect anything less would be a travesty of the time God will be giving me.

To you, my beloved readers, I hope and pray that you know God’s love and peace in 2017.

Until next year!





The day after Christmas

So, as we are sitting here, having slept in really late, I notice that the boys are happy. Not because they got the latest gadgets,but because we are all together and they are safe. They have food, shelter and parents that love them. All the stuff is just an added bonus.

The boys let us sleep in and they came down and watched a movie they got yesterday. What an awesome thing for them to do, it has allowed us to get some much needed rest,but now it’s time to start on plans for the New Year.

So, I didn’t get any car stuff or my truck bac, for Christmas, but we had a great time. I did get this new Kindle Fire, which I am writing this blog. I also saw my kids give up the commercialism of this holiday to go Worship the King of Kings. They were willing to wait to open their gifts until we came home from church and had breakfast. It was truly a Christmas miracle.

Customs N Classics did get a video out for Christmas eve and I am starting to plan what we can do for next year. Hopefully this blog will grow like crazy!

I did have an adventure with the boys on Friday,we went Christmas shopping. That was fun. 3 boys who have no money and want to buy their mom the world. It was fun seeing the things they wanted to get her, though.

So, for now, you should go through the old posts, re-read them, click the links and subscribe to my YouTube channel. Also, check out my Facebook page.

Hope you all had a great Christmas.

Raising 3 Boys

I know, this site is supposed to be about cars, trucks, racing, events and to a lesser degree, anything else. It seems, as I have posted, that this site is about things that are mechanical and either gain ground or go fast, but, I think this is about so much mg3jeeps-flying-jeepore.

Recently, I allowed a guest author to post. What an amazing article and it generated a lot of views. He wrote about The Jeep Wrangler. His site is about the outdoor lifestyle, the Jeep, the 4×4, etc. He is an amazing writer and I like his style, he comes at it from a personal tone and I think it really works.

So, let me change things here, up a bit. Let me start writing about my boys, our adventures. These will include car shows, camping, adventures, yes, many adventures.

My oldest, Aaron (14family), is helping me with the car shows/interviews. He likes to see these cars/trucks and has asked me if we are going to build a hot rod together. (Imagine my pride when he said that, like I actually know how.) He loves to build, mostly Lego’s, but, I watch him draw and he started getting into video making, so, I started this to give him an outlet. (That is what dad’s do, they help their children learn and grow.) Of course, he is limited to what he can, or is allowed, to do. He just got an email account and is allowed some access to the internet. (We do limit screen time, as we see that other activities are extremely important.)

My middle son, Zachary (12), is into extreme sports, BMX Biking, skateboarding, stunt riding, etc. He is an outdoors type person, all the way. He would rather be outside than inside, unless I say he can play video games. That’s when I get a vegetable staring at a screen. He is great at following direction, especially with models, erector sets and Lego’s. Now, he likes the newer cars, though I don’t hold that against him. He likes the curves and the looks, but, still enjoys a good car show.

My youngest, Benjamin, (14 Named Ben Jamin’), is my little buddy. He was our surprise and our miracle. He showed us, at birth, that God is in control, not us. He was born 2 1/2 months premature, so, he is a bit small still, but, he has adapted like a champ. I don’t think there is anything he can’t do, (except math), if he puts his mind to it. He is definitely our challenge, but, he is also our joy. I’m not quite sure how to explain Ben, he is himself. He does like cars and he likes having a lot of attention.

As a family, we love to go camping. Not in a camper, mind you, in a tent, on the ground. We go all over, different campgrounds and have a blast. Our tent is humongous and takes about 40 minutes to put up, with my wife helping, about an hour if the boys help.

So, you have an idea now, about how this blog is going to go. We have a lot to write about and a lot of adventures to have. A lot of them may include something automotive, so, keep checking us out, we are going to take you with us.


The Jeep Wrangler, an American icon

The Jeep Wrangler is an iconic vehicle. From a quarter mile away this modern dinosaur stands out like a sore thumb with its close-set round headlamps, seven-slot grill and goofy fender flares that stick out on either side like Dumbo’s ears.

Over the last two decades, Jeeps have certainly evolved. Solid axles gave way to independent suspensions which offered improved ride quality, complex traction controls, and all-wheel drive systems were introduced, and cabin comfort has been improved dramatically.

The Jeeps of today bear little more than a passing resemblance to those of old, say for one: the venerable Wrangler.


Public doman image

The original YJ Wrangler, released in 1985, was the next evolution of the original Civilian Jeep. The Wrangler was born from the original Willy’s MB template but was further refined and more civilized.

First introduced in early 1985 under the American Motors Corporation, the first Wrangler, dubbed the YJ in Canada, bore a close resemblance to the CJ-7 it replaced.

The first generation Wrangler was made famous in 1993 when the vehicle appeared in “Jurassic Park.”

Despite popular belief, the Wrangler was not a direct descendent of the original Willy’s MB. The original Wrangler was, instead, the amalgamation of the Jeep Cherokee XJ and the Jeep CJ. The core principles of the vehicle remained unchanged, but the Wrangler inherited the XJ’s niceties, including its interior accents, transmission, and powertrain. The end result was a more civilized Jeep that was just as capable as before.

Over the last three generations, the Wrangler has continued this trend. The latest generation offers premium features such as heated seats and premium sound systems, but it has retained the classic styling and every bit of the original’s capability.

Practically prehistoric

Compared to modern vehicles with their aluminum unibodies, independent suspension, and fuel-efficient transmissions the Wrangler certainly, doesn’t fit the mold. With its solid front and rear axles, a traditional transfer case and a body on frame design, the Wrangler is practically prehistoric.

This makes explaining why I love this vehicle to my friends and family a little tricky because it’s easy to come off sounding a little crazy.

Driving a Wrangler is an experience in itself. Off-road, the Wrangler is an absolute pleasure to drive. It’s confidence inspiring on the rough stuff. Unfortunately, everything that makes this vehicle so good off road, makes it painful to drive on the pavement.

It’s slow, loud and harsh. It could go on and on and list everything that makes this a terrible car, but none of the matters, because I can’t help but smile when I drive it.

But, people don’t understand it. They see these quirky retro SUVs at the dealership and think it’s like any other car.

I’ll often tell people the Wrangler is an amazing vehicle, but if you never leave the pavement there are far better vehicles out there.

A rare breed

Jeep Wranger

The Wrangler’s suspension makes it unique today. Solid front axles are no longer found on any other American made SUV. – Alex Bertha Photo

Today, the Wrangler’s solid front axle makes it a rare breed.

This Jeep’s suspension actually hasn’t changed a whole lot since the very very first military Jeep rolled off the assembly line.

In fact, if I’m not mistaken, the Wrangler is the only American made SUV on the market today that has retained a solid front axle.

This is for good reason, solid axles aren’t well known for comfort and control. Independent suspensions have long since replaced solid axles entirely in just about every vehicle on the market today except for full-size SUVs and trucks.

So if solid front axles are so bad, you’d think that after 75-years, Jeep would have made the Wrangler a little more civilized, but they didn’t. The answer why comes down to articulation.

Solid axles are unparalleled when it comes to articulation. Better articulation means your tires will spend more time on the ground moving you forward and less time spinning in the air.

Making the move to IFS in the Wrangler would have meant compromising the vehicle’s legendary off-road prowess, and risked alienating the vehicle’s core audience.

The Wrangler in its essence is a refusal to compromise. No modern vehicle has stayed truer to its origins than the Wrangler, making it a true American Icon.


  • What do you think of the Jeep Wrangler?
  • Do you think it’s an American icon?
  • What other vehicles do you think deserve this distinction?

Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

Alex Bertha Photo via Unsplash 


Tobias Mann is a community journalist and author of the Adventure Bent blog. Each week, he writes about hiking, camping, overland travel and other off-road adventures including one Misadventure in the Iron Range where he nearly lost his Jeep.