Custom Car Build Inquiry

Detroit Speed was started in a two-car garage, building a '69 Camaro. Tools were acquired along the way, parts were built that weren't on the market, relationships were formed, and a reputation was made. Today, 20 years later, our Project Shop builds some of the most iconic hot rods in the industry and is considered one of the leaders in design, quality, and workmanship.

Detroit Speed's Project Shop specializes in full custom car builds. Whether you have a vehicle you want to start with or you want us to find one, we will work with you to design, budget, and build your dream vehicle. Our shop is for the true enthusiast. Think we are a good fit for you? Please complete the Custom Car Build Inquiry Form to get started.

Thank you for your interest! Someone from our team will respond to your application at their earliest convenience.


Detroit Speed Inc. Vehicle Build Process

The theoretical process of building a car may seem straightforward to some people. Determine what you want out of your car: daily driver, race car, show car, somewhere in between. You find the vehicle to start with, tear it down, buy some parts, install, paint and fire it up, right?

The physical process of building a car though, can be lengthy, costly, and sometimes, frustrating. Choosing a builder that fits your goals and expectations is extremely important. Each builder has its unique process and style. Detroit Speed has built a reputation for how we build project vehicles. We pride ourselves on quality products, excellent fit and finish, and the ability for the customer to drive and enjoy the vehicle for years to come. The minimum timeline for a Detroit Speed-built car averages about 18 months, with the maximum timeline sometimes being over three years depending on the complexity of the build and the budget available. Each build is unique and thus each customer relationship must be treated individually and fairly.

First things first, the Interview. We request upfront details from a potential customer on what their expectations are, what they want out of the build and what their budget is. The customer can supply the vehicle to start with or we can assist in locating a good candidate for the build. Then we will have a phone interview to discuss these details and any follow up questions directly. If the scope and timeline of the build is acceptable to both parties, a Project Agreement and initial deposit is put in place to secure a spot in the schedule.

Below we go through the process of building Larry's 1970 Boss 302 Mustang.


Once the deposit and agreement are received, further specifics are determined about the build – suspension, transmission, engine, driveline, wheels, etc. – and renderings are started. Parts lists are created, labor estimates are forecasted, and the budget gets itemized. This typically all happens before the car even arrives. Detroit Speed’s waitlist can be anywhere from six months to a year. Communication with the customer during this time is key – not only to get prepared and get a build plan in place but to ensure the customer is aware of the timeline.


Once Detroit Speed is ready to receive the car, the process begins to take shape. When the vehicle is delivered, it will go through a check-in process. Pre-build photos are taken, and a checklist of contents and functionality is documented. This confirms the state of the vehicle to the build plan and allows for further evaluation of what may or may not need to be done to the build from what was originally discussed. Major components are ordered, and a lead fabricator is assigned.


As soon as the vehicle is checked in and reviewed, the teardown begins. The vehicle is completely disassembled down to the shell and chassis. Each part is cataloged and stored. Some original components may be reused or modified to fit the new design of the vehicle.


Once the vehicle is stripped down to the bare shell, the car is blasted at a 3rd party vendor to remove all paint and rust on the vehicle. This process allows the lead fabricator to really see the bones of the vehicle – what repairs were previously done, how much corrosion there is, and how much fabrication will be required. If there is excessive frame/body damage or rust repair discovered the timeline and budget may need to be re-assessed based on the vehicle's condition. While all of this has been happening, new components are being ordered and received in.

Social Media Updates

Throughout the entire build process, communication with the customer is key. Phone calls, Skype meetings, emails, photo sharing apps, are all used to document the progress to the customer. Most customers are not local to the build shop, so it’s important to keep the customer involved throughout the process, get their feedback, guidance, and approval on various elements to ensure the build is heading in the right direction. As the fabrication process can take quite some time, the direction can shift as new ideas come along. It’s important for both the builder and the customer to be on the same page to meet the overall budget and timeline goals. Communication is key.

Fabrication Stage

At this point, the fabricator begins the build and the transformation starts. The fabrication stage involves everything from custom metal work to shape the vehicle inside and out, cutting and welding to modify both the vehicle and components as needed, custom handmade pieces crafted for both function and design, as well as test fitting parts and panels for fitment and alignment. This stage of the build can be hundreds to thousands of hours depending on the technicalities of the vehicle itself. Each fabricator has their specialties and core strengths, so depending on the vehicle itself, secondary fabricators may be brought in to perform certain elements of the build to ensure the highest quality. At the end of fabrication, the car will be mostly assembled in the mockup stage and sitting at final ride height to get an idea of the overall stance and attitude of the vehicle.


Once the fabrication stage is completed, initial wiring may begin to ensure clean routing of harnesses and electrical component locations. Electrical needs such as sound systems, power functions for doors, latches, and seats, heating and air conditioning, engine management systems, lighting, and more should all be determined, and test fitted by this time. Detroit Speed documents the build at this stage with a bare metal photo shoot.

Paint and Body

At this stage, the vehicle moves on to Paint and Body where we use Norton brand supplies for all our body preparation and masking. Detroit Speed has a full Paint and Body Shop on-site, including a paint booth and soft-lit prep station. The first step in the process is to prep and clean the bare metal for epoxy. This protects from any corrosion of the bare metal. Panels are fit and gaps are measured in preparation for body work and paint. Body work begins at this stage and the entire vehicle is block sanded to remove all imperfections. Any fabrication work done to the vehicle after it has been painted can be extremely expensive to recover from, so the builder and the customer both need to evaluate the car at this stage and ensure the build is still headed in the right direction.

Sanding and Buffing

After paint, there are countless hours that go into the wet sanding and buffing process that gives Detroit Speed cars a mirror-like finish. Once polished all body components will be re-assembled and aligned on the vehicle.


Now that the vehicle is out of the Body shop, it is time to wire and assemble the vehicle. At Detroit Speed, this is done by a specific Project Wiring/Assembly employee with assistance from the fabricator as he knows the intricate details of the components used in the build. If the vehicle was pre-wired before paint, the wiring process at this stage is shortened significantly. If not, then the wiring is done from scratch, taking all precautions to protect the fresh paint and finishes on the vehicle. Once the vehicle is wired and assembled, we do all the preliminary checks leading up to the “Initial Start” of the vehicle. This allows us to determine what systems may need attention and verify the base tune of the engine.

Interior Install

Once most of the assembly has been completed, it is time to install the interior components – carpet, seats, dash, trim, door panels, etc. Based on the complexity of the interior we work with either a local 3rd party interior installer or ship the vehicle to M&M Hot rod interiors. Once the interior has been completed, the vehicle is down to minor repairs and functionality tests, including engine tuning and dyno performance if requested by the customer.

Unveiling at Goodguys-Columbus 2019

Thank you for considering Detroit Speed for your build. Feel free to contact us with any questions or concerns at [email protected]