If you love classic and custom cars, then you'll find Jellybean AutoCrafters to be an absolute car toybox. Ewald and Kurt Penner are masters of their craft at building custom RestoRods and creating unique, one-off cars. Jellybean is on the cutting edge of the restomod market and pushing the envelope in the latest trends and technology. They create restorations on classic and vintage vehicles for people who want modern performance, functionality and reliability. From fabricating missing parts for a vintage vehicle to engineering a one-off custom show car, they have the staff & the equipment to create the most unique and amazing vehicles.
Hi folks and welcome to Center Lane,
I'm Bruce Hitchen. Well today we're at
Jellybean AutoCrafters and Jellybean is one of the
premier custom auto builders in British Columbia .
This is a true toy box of everything automotive.
They do some of the most unique and custom
builds that I have ever seen.
The idea behind Jellybean AutoCrafters started 16 years ago
but in actual fact, it probably started about 40 to 50 years ago.
When I was a kid about five, six years old, a '57 Chevy blew its clutch right in front of our house.
And being a kid of that age, anything that blows up is cool. I was really liking cars, now I loved cars. And so I've had a passion all my life for it. Kurt is my brother, he's also my business partner and he shared the same passion, different ways he got it, that sort of thing and we've always been working on cars all the way along.
In many ways it's exceeded the dream. Either it was just gonna be the two of us in a little shop, doing you know, one-off cars. Then we had 'this', as a dream that had the big shop and multiple employees and all that kind of stuff.
Well Ewald, this is a gorgeous car and one that you don't see every day particularly done like this.
This is a '59 Mercedes 190 SL right? That's right yeah. We've worked on, you know a lot of cars, met a lot of great people done some really cool events.
You know with just the cars that are in the shop now are so amazing they. I come to work every day and they blow my mind. Looking around now at the level of cars we're building and the uniqueness of it and the creativity we're allowed to exercise...yeah, I never thought it would grow to this. This is way beyond what we expected or what we dreamt of even.
We serve a wide spectrum of the market. Anything from concourse, to race cars, restomods, all that kind of stuff. We've been to Pebble Beach with a car and you know, numerous other concours shows. There really isn't the category for what we do. We were actually at one show last year where they created a separate category for the Studebaker we built. They felt it was so unique, it didn't fit into any category. And it was an honour to have them actually create a category for that car. And that kind of capsulizes what we do here. Each car is a one one-off car. It's like a bespoke built vehicle. If you go and get yourself a suit made, the car is the same. We have the client sit down and show us where the steering wheel is supposed to go, the pedals are, like all these things and so our typical car now is, is along those lines where you take an old Firebird or old Studebaker the Willys that's behind me, that type of thing. Any old car you like and we'll put modern running gear in there, modern disc brakes, and
all the modern suspensions, that sort of thing.
So the shop is divided basically into three areas. We've got our body and paint bay, we've got the mechanical bay, and we've got a fabrication bay. So the cars will go back and forth between the different bays numerous times during a build.
This is a frame for a '57 T-Bird. T-Birds are not known for handling well or driving nice, and with this frame it's going to handle like a modern car. Like a 2015 type Corvette, that type of thing. We can build frames in-house but whenever there's a frame available we'll purchase those. The reason being is that the frame is a lot cheaper to buy than it is to build. When you're buying it from a company like Street Rod Garage, which this is, they already have all their jigs, all their CNC programs, all the engineering. They're already track tested. All these things are all done before they even touched any kind of a frame at all.
When we build frames we have to do all the engineering, the designing, the programming, it's a one-off piece so therefore it's a lot more costly.
There's several different ways you can buy frames. You can buy them in just the frame itself. You can buy just the suspension, you can buy them assembled, not powder coated, that kind of stuff. On this one we chose to have it all assembled because especially shipping it so far, it's cheaper to go that way. And this way, all the wheel alignments are done for you already and to their specifications. So we know what they've done, track testing this frame will do the same specifications the same handling when it comes to the track as well.
The engine transmission, you can buy it in a crate or you can buy them from a wrecked vehicle, either way. This one here is a brand-new engine,
like the car only had 10,000 kilometers on it when it was written off and so there were before we chose to go with this one as compared to a crate. This is a 10-speed automatic transmission um maybe one of the first in the lower mainland that gets built with the 10-speed automatic so we're kind of ahead of its time in that way. The engine itself has 460 horsepower with 420 foot-pounds in torque. It's dual overhead cam. The motor looks really large but it's actually quite small inside, it's a 5-liter it looks large just because of all the the dual overhead cams and stuff. And then with the 10-speed transmission especially with that will make a huge difference because the mechanical advantage is so much higher.
Ewald will generally sit down and talk to a client for extended period of times, probably at least once a month once every 6 weeks that they'll sit down for you know whatever 15 minutes, half an hour. Sometimes more depending on the car and make sure that we're all staying on the same page.
The great thing about Jellybean here is is that is some of these cars are very special but the, the staff and the people here get it. They get the thinking. Yeah it's a business you're here to keep the lights on and all that but they understand the thinking and and that is a really, really cool thing about having your car restored here. They'll do what it takes to get it right.
They really have that dedication to getting it right which is, which is really unparalleled you know in sort of the industry today. There's only a few people doing what these guys are doing.
This is a 1959 Willys. It's a four-wheel drive. Originally would have been a four-cylinder vehicle. When the vehicle came in it was in really rough shape, there was some dents and rust. It hadn't been well cared for. It was a 4x4 after all. The vision that the client wanted for it was awesome, it was really nice condition with modern type paint on it modern wheels and modern drive. He wanted to have reliability so he could take it to his, to his cabin that kind of stuff. There was a considerable amount of metal work needed on the vehicle straightening and also patch panel, that sort of thing.
We ended up building a firewall because we went with a 5.7 Hemi. So it's got modern fuel injection, modern reliability, modern power. We made no exterior body modifications so it's exactly what it was from factory. It has a five-speed manual transmission it has air lockers so you got switches on your dashboard to turn the posi's on, that sort of thing. Five-speed manual transmission, aluminum radiator all that stuff so the reliability of this vehicle will be, will be very good. One of the things we did as well was to get a more comfortable ride...back then these springs were really short and they kind of had a tractor type ride but with more of a modern ride where we charged a bit longer suspension, longer springs into it. So what we did is we ended up lengthening the frame about six inches that gave us room to put a longer leaf spring into it. That gives us a modern type of a ride, soft goes over bumps well yet it still carries a lot of weight.
The factory Willys, it has a very basic basic dashboard, basic interior because they're a basic truck. With this client wanting a more high-end, more modern type of a vehicle, we took some artistic liberties and some design changes that still aren't keeping with what Willys had originally. So we ended up making the dashboard a little bigger, keep it flat. We then laid out with us where the gauges should be. He came back in again and sat in the seat and looked at it. So now he can see through the steering wheel, he can see all the gauges totally clear. If somebody didn't know any better, this would be to them would be 100 factory. For a bit of comfort we put tilt steering in as well so this goes up and down so if he's on a long trip, he wants to change that or somebody else wants to drive it sort
of a thing, it can be adjusted for them as well.
One of the things that I do as part of my job, I do walkabouts in the shop at least twice a day. I stop in at every car, every employee and we'll have anywhere from five minutes to 10 or 15 minutes sometimes talk through where the car is at, what's going on with the car any obstacles that have arisen. So it's a good way to kind of monitor that, make sure that we're
always doing what the customer wants on the car.
We spend a lot of effort making sure that we're doing something exactly like the client wants as far as you know their dream. I just think that we have a really unique eye. The way that we do things, attention to detail, proportion, fit, finish, flow. You know I see a lot of other vehicles where the
craftsmanship is fantastic but for myself, a lot of times I don't see the flow in the design and that sort of stuff. Like the vehicle almost seems to fight itself sometimes.
I come to work every day, and I myself am blown away by the vehicles we have. And then, it challenges me every single day because some of these vehicles are extremely difficult to build. They're not just, you know you're not just looking at a picture and building a car you're creating, designing, engineering your problem solving. It gets extremely challenging some days.
Walking through the door here and seeing the cars. There are so many shiny things in this building, that it's pretty rare for me not to walk in here in the morning and just start to smile. That we're able to turn on cars that function well, that look great, and will do exactly what they're supposed to do.
To me I think what drives me the most is that conquering those and looking at later on and realizing that's something that's really special, something that's unique and you know a one-off sort of thing. It's the challenge I think that probably keeps me driving the most.