What Drives You: New York Monsters

(Editor’s Note: From pearl, metallic flake and candy-colored paint to modified small-blocks, big-blocks and flathead V-8s, the proud owners of custom cars are opening up their throttles and bursting forth with their classic build stories. Join us as we get down to the nuts and bolts of these builds and tell the stories of car builders worldwide — finding smiles and unforgettable memories behind the blood, sweat and tears. If you have a custom with a great story and would like to be considered for our “What Drives You” series, contact Tara Hurlin at thurlin@hagerty.com.)

For October we explore a spookier realm to coincide with Halloween — the featured builders’ favorite time of year! Central New York’s Jon and Amy Holbrook, also known as Reaper’s Rejects for their menacing monster builds, have taken car modifications to a whole new level. These builds are not exactly rat rods because of the high quality and virtually rust-free construction, so these monster rods might just be taking on a new life of their own.

After years of building street rods and hot rods, it took a bit of convincing on Amy’s part for her husband, Jon, to dig into their first monster build, the SkullRod. Amy says, “We were inspired to build these cars as a challenge, for fun and to just do something different.” Little did they know, this uniquely intimidating rat rod would quickly lead to two more builds: Frankenstein, their second, and Purgatory, their third. Each build is unique in its own way, and each has brought its own challenges and memories.

Each car has exclusive, well thought-out details, including keys that match each individual build. The SkullRod rocks the skull theme throughout, with a themed steering wheel, shifter, side view mirrors, glove box, headlight and fuel pump switches. The skull’s lower teeth are built into the front of the chassis, taking the place of a front grille. Frankenstein rolls with the largest white walls, a ghostly brake lever, hearse lantern rear lights, themed fluid dipsticks, spiked lug nut covers and a top-hatch coffin door. Purgatory sweeps the roads with lambo doors, skull and flame molded accents, skull exhaust tips and valve covers, a chain steering wheel, and a highly detailed interior portraying a very fitting lost souls theme.

According to Amy, the three cars conjure up priceless reactions from onlookers. “Do they drive?” is a question that is commonly asked. In fact, they run and drive just like an everyday car (sort of). “People are the main reason we build them,” Amy explains. “We have had such an overwhelming, positive experience with these cars.” The Reaper’s Rejects’ builds have even been compared to legendary Ed Roth and George Barris, two very well-known Kustom car designers and builders. “It’s surreal for our name to even be said in conjunction with such extraordinary Kustom Kulture icons,” Amy says.

Since displaying their works of art at the 2013 Syracuse Nationals, the Reaper’s Rejects have been aired on local news channels, featured in print articles, and photos of the builds have gone viral via online social networks such as Facebook. Amy and Jon plan to continue blazing down their new road of themed rat rods and the next planned build is already in the works, to be called “Cyclops.”  The name alone has our imaginations running rampant with the possibilities. In the meantime, the couple will be busy attending several events for 2015, including the March Motorama in Buffalo, NY.

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