We're Into Vintage Go-Fast

Custom-vehicle builder Tim Odell, in his own words. “We are located in Lincolnton, North Carolina, right outside of Mooresville and...

January 17, 2020

Custom-vehicle builder Tim Odell, in his own words.

“We are located in Lincolnton, North Carolina, right outside of Mooresville and Charlotte.

“[My] shop is [called] Vice Unlimited. We do two, three, four big projects a year, it seems like,” Odell said. “Mostly it’s word-of-mouth, customer-wise. But, we’re definitely staying busy, for sure.”

Why build custom vehicles?

“I think just creating things with my hands is probably what satisfies me.

“Early on I got a degree in graphic design. I wanted to design graphics on snowboards and skateboards because that’s what I was into.”

“But, I realized I didn’t want to sit behind a computer screen, you know? I wanted to use my hands and build stuff.”

“I’ve done a lot of projects for customers for SEMA and some higher-end builds. And I told myself, ‘man, it’s time for you to build yourself something.'” So, that’s what Odell did with his 1946 Diamond T Ultra-4 car.

“I started out with a Diamond T cab. Picked it up in Virginia. [It was] totally rusted out. But I saw the potential in it.”

Why a Diamond T?

“Diamond T, they kind of have a chop-top look from the factory, which is really cool. And the split window kind of gives it a real sinister, low look. That’s why I decided to go with this particular cab,” said Odell.

“Starting at the front of the truck, you’ve got some cool truck-light, LED headlights; a set of 40-inch Nitto Trail Grapplers, a great off-road tire and a great road tire, too. I’ll be able to drive it to the beach, to a car show or bomb through the desert. You know, that’s kind of the purpose of it. So those tires work great for that.”

Started doing auto body work

“In my career I started out doing body work. Body work is all about getting it straight, getting it slick and getting it shiny, which is cool.

“But one thing I don’t like about that is you’re always afraid of scratching it or scuffing it. And so I gravitated more toward the ‘patina’ look. The patina is something you can use.”

“You can drive it. You can scratch it and chip it. People can lean on it. They can look at it. It doesn’t matter. It’s something you can totally interact with.”

“And, when you throw in new parts with it and you kind of make it a real racy-looking thing, it really contrasts. You see the difference between new and old, and it really gives it a really cool look.”

A look inside Odell’s “TrophyT” ultra-4 rat rod

“[It has] Hutchinson double-bead-lock wheels, 17-inch. Since this thing is something I’ll drive on the road, it has somewhat of an interior in it – full custom-aluminum-fabricated dash, center console, full Holley system, fuel injection and display gauges.

“The truck actually runs off an iPad, so you start the truck with an iPad.

“Beyond all the cool products, this thing was just a pile of tube on the floor, like a sheet of steel leaning up against the wall. That’s what it was, you know?”

“And I didn’t start out with anything other than a cab, so every little piece on this was cut, welded and bent right in the shop.

“On this particular project, there’s a lot of things that I’ve never done before, and so I’ve learned a lot. And that was satisfying.”

LS turbocharged engine

“That’s a 6.0-liter LS motor, turbocharged. It’s a mid-engine car. Engine’s in the back. So, the rear end is actually flipped over upside down, so that makes it a ‘high-pinion’ axle. To help compensate for the rear end being flipped over, [it has a] pump running off a drive shaft and it’s oiling the pinion bearing in the axle.”

Custom AMSOIL quart holders

“Lubrication is very important. I made these cool custom holders. You can easily pop this open and grab your oil and top it off.

“I think design and having an eye is important, but I think deep down, if you want to do this, you have to have a passion for it. And then I think it’ll happen for you. But you’ve just got to want to do it, you know?

“Being excited about what you’re working on and using your hands, that’s success.”