BEHIND THE DOORS ……………………
Pictures & Story By Al Liebmann
I recently had the opportunity to spend some time with Bob & Rob Ida after following their work for the past 10 plus years and seeing them quite often at car shows events.
Ida Automotive Inc. and RobIdaConcepts.com may be one of New Jersey's best kept secrets. Father and Son Team, Bob and Rob Ida have been servicing a select and small group of clients for many years. With the eclectic tastes of these clients, you never know what you will see in their shop. From Ferraris to Hot Rods to Corporate projects like Solar Powered Ice Cream trucks. While their automotive roots come from Willys Hot Rods from Bob Sr.'s Gasser days, and Tuckers from Rob's Grandfather being one of the original Tucker Dealers back in the late forties they stay true to their craft. They have created cars and parts from scratch in an effort to feed the need for interesting cars.
Both have their own areas of expertise in the shop. Bob is the machinist with his CNC equipment, making things like custom one-off wheels, brakes and other interesting bits of hardware, as well as being the in-house Dyno-Tuner for their own custom made Turbo and Fuel Injection systems. Rob is better known for his Design work and 3D metal Fabrication abilities, as well as body and paint, chassis building, body fabrication and modifications, Upholstery and full car construction.
Walking through the shop you may see movie and stunt cars , handmade Tucker cars being created a Ford GT on the dyno, while the CNC machine is busy witlings away a cool set of one-off wheels in the background. Ida's belief is that a custom car means that it should be built of truly custom parts. They do not subscribe to the thought of Hot Rods having to fit a set of guidelines. Recent trends suggest that if a custom car has parts that look like they were made after 1972, that they are trendy and not to be taken seriously.
The Ida's believe that "MAIL ORDER IS MAIL ORDER" no matter when it was purchased. They continue to think outside the box, and make parts that they deem cool even if they are not considered text book "Traditional". Don't get me wrong, The Ida's own and build cars that most traditionalist would consider "Spot On", but they don't stop their thinking there. With an admiration for ALL types of car genres and a taste for technology, they are not afraid to stuff an "all made" Twin Turbo system in Hot Rod, or make a set of Lugless Wheels with Hubless Brake Rotors and Internal Calipers.
One of my favs is a 1957 Oldsmobile 98 Convertible is getting custom made trim that Rob designed and is being fabricated by in-house Fabricator Ryan Klimchock. Rob said the design connects the original trim on the quarter panel to the factory trim on the front fender, and was designed to look like a factory GM design. Up front Rob hammered out a cool "Batwing" air cleaner to tie the 502 BBC into the Oldsmobile body.
Another is 1957 Chevy Suburban is being built for a client with a special request. His wife uses an electric wheelchair and will need specialized entry system with a seat that electronically comes out of the vehicle and makes entry a breeze, while the rear has a wheelchair lift to easily stow the chair during the trip. The Body has been grafted on to a new Chevy Tahoe 4x4 SUV platform. Keeping the air bags, ABS, dual zone climate control and all of the other mechanicals of the new SUV in place, this should be like driving a new vehicle. The tough here is a "what if?" GM designed a retro 57 SUV.
Recently finished was a custom made Fire truck being donated by one of their VIP customers to the Fireman of the State of NJ. The Fire truck was built into a hearse and will be available to serve in a Fireman’s Funeral.
In the showroom are two vehicles that were built a few years back. Both Clients let the Ida's show them off while they are not using them. Both car owners both have new projects being built in the shop as well.
This Challenger shows the range the Idas have. When one of their VIP customers asked about having a muscle car built, they were up for the "Challenge
The Ida’s back in 1999 Rob's Willys set a new trend. With its one off lugless wheels, stylized profile, curved glass and ZR-1 engine and 6 speed trans, this car was way ahead of its time.
Bob ran this Blown Hemi Healy in the gasser wars. It ran the east coast and at Indy NHRA Nationals in 1968. The Idas are talking about recreating it sometime soon
This 1939 Ford Coupe was just finished up for a local customer. It’s built to be a driver and has traditional styling and recently was in the Builders Showcase at the 2012 NSRA Street Rod Nationals
This Tucker is one of Idas own tribute cars. The cars are numbered and Authorized by Sean Tucker, Grandson of Preston Tucker and Automotive Engineer.
Not usually in the business of restorations, the Idas made and exception with this Tucker. #51 This Tucker was the last car on the assembly line when the Tucker Corporation was shut down by the SEC. This Tucker is owned by the DeLorenzo Estate.
Rob proves that hot rods are in his blood. This 46 Ford is his daily driver and commuter car. It gets driven all year round and it wears its road rash like a badge.
Bob track preps cars all the time. One of his specialties is the Ford GT. The Idas have their own "Track Pack" including a tune, pulley, exhaust and more
Their "Morganville Chop" is their signature re-designs for roofs. Instead of traditional chops, they like to move the roof back and make custom curved glass for their cars.
Other projects in the shop are a body for a Bonneville Lakester than continues to be developed and will be Wind Tunnel Tested in an effort to set a Land Speed Record. One of their custom Tuckers is being prepped as the main car in an upcoming Major Motion Picture, while the "stunt double" sits outside getting naturally "patina-ed".
Thanks again to Bob & Rob for allow me to see what ‘BEHIND THE DOORS” @ Ida Automotive Inc. and www.RobIdaConcepts.com .. Njoy the Tour … Big Al