RIDE OF THE WEEK: Ken Vela’s 1956 Porsche Speedster


I get to drive a lot of cars. I mean, a lot. And although driving a new Ferrari or some sort of exotic can be exhilarating, it’s when I get contacted by personal builders that I get really excited.

Last week, I did a Malibu Vlog episode on Ken Vela and his 1956 Porsche Speedster. A one-off hand-built replica that screams Hot Rod Outlaw Custom. If the OK Corral existed today, this car would have shut them down hard.

Ken’s company, WIKD KUSTOMS, focuses on unique builds for unique clients and when I say “unique,” I mean WIKD. As a Car Builder, Ken’s outlook on the extreme kustom world is peppered with historic data with influences from Ed “Big Daddy” Roth, Gene Winfield, George Barris and others. This Speedster is a true character car.

But how about some specs from Ken?


“It’s got an HB Aircooled Type IV 225 hp 2.4 liter  motor , 400hp shot of wet Nitrous, Porsche 911 5 spd. Accusump oil system, remote nitrous purge and electric deck lid with aluminum scoop. A low gloss black patina paint and body, shaved door handles, shaved front end, hand built flares, plexiglass windshield, UFO rear view mirrors, hand painted number 13 gumballs, kustom aluminum tonneau cover, Rollbar and complete cage, 4” dropped floor, Nitto street/strip tires wrapped on 15 X 10 & 15 X 9 Centerline wheels, kustom Black and red leather seats with black diamond tucked red stitched interior, rally stopwatch hidden stereo with steering wheel remote.” Yes, he said that all in one breath… Obviously, he’s been practicing.

But he’re where it started…
“I’ve had the car for 5 years and found it on Ebay. It originally sat in Santa Barbara for 20+ years, unfinished and abandoned. The new owner could not finish it and it was too far gone. So I rescued it or should I say… it rescued me?”  

Ken wanted back into Kustom car building… his life long dream. At age 5in Indiana, he and his father learned how to do tune ups, oil changes and body work together on their new 1968 Malibu. “Rattle cans and Bondo” Dad saw Ken’s talent and saved enough money to buy a Sears compressor, tools and spraygun setup. The “Malibu” was the first car he painted and at 16, resulted in his first Kustom car.

“I was painting a new car every week out of my parents garage. My biggest influences were the 1966 Batmobile (George Barrris) and TV was my ‘window out of the corn fields’ along with Speed Racer’s MACH 5. (You can see some of the styling cues in WIKD) and in HotRod Magazine. I remember my Mom bought me my first Hotrod Magazine and it became my monthly bible. I was looking to build another car and my best friend  said ‘why don’t you build a Speedster?’

After entertaining the idea, he did some research on the history of Porsche and it bit him. He wanted a vintage race inspired 356 Porsche. After collecting over a thousand vintage race photos of all makes and models, he began the design.

“I wanted a mix of American ‘Hot Rod’ and German ‘Outlaw’ with modern upgrades and technology. The love and passion for building cars, along with the memories, came back to me with great vengeance… and the rest is history. I owe it all to my Dad and this build is dedicated to him.

Ken uses the car strictly for the Track, Car Shows and Events now like Malibu Cars & Coffee where you can come see it.

His best short story?? “The debut at Malibu Cars and Coffee with actor Keanu Reeves. My good friends Rolland and Cory pulled and all-nighter getting the car ready the day before… 18 hours straight! We started the engine at 2pm, began installing the interior at 9pm, test drove and adjusted the suspension at midnight, completed the interior at 5:30am, polished her up by 5:45am and loaded her on the trailer for the show! What a great event! There is so much beauty to see and experience here… From the breath taking coastline views to the serene canyons. It was perfect.”
It’s about the best experience you can get here as an Automotive Enthusiast. You can watch the Vlog Episode #5 on my Youtube Channel, but better yet, come to the show and see it. Who knows, maybe Ken will inspire you to build your own WIKD Kustom.

Congrats, Ken! You’re this week’s RIDE OF THE WEEK!

Fireball’s Youtube Channel is here… http://www.youtube.com/fireballtim Want to be featured as his Ride of the Week? Shoot an email to askfireball@fireballtim.com

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