Tucked away in a cramped garage in Calabasas, California, monsters are created. The smell of burnt fuel and melted metal stains the atmosphere. The monsters that leave this space are flame-spitting, ear-splitting, sensory-polarizing devil’s chariots.
Corbin Goodwin, a 25-year-old mechanical engineering major at CSUN, gained notoriety when his first mad creation was featured on the /Drive Channel on YouTube. His creation, dubbed the “Zero fucks given RX-7,” turned the automotive world on its head.
Goodwin took a motley 1984 Mazda RX-7 he pulled from a ditch and made every performance modification possible, seemingly at the expense of all aesthetic value. The car rubbed every car fan like sandpaper in just the right way. Ugly was cool. Scary was cool. Dangerous was cool. Goodwin’s RX-7 reignited the car-world’s love affair with the hot rod.
“Everything I do is driven by function. I don’t want to be defined and constrained to cars. I feel like it pigeonholes you really badly to let one thing determine yourself,” says Goodwin. “I’m not here just for show.”
A hot rod is a strange beast. Editor in Chief of Hot Rod Magazine, David Freiburger once speculated on an important distinction between hot rods, and the chrome-clad trailer queens known as customs. Freiburger said, “customs are for attracting girls, while hot rods are for scaring them away.”
Pierce College Automotive Department Chair Tom Fortune sees the changing tides of hot-rodding, first-hand.
“It’s generational. What I liked as a young man is different from what my father liked as a young man. Most people stick with cars they remember from their youth. When young people are building cars, they usually look the same, which is kind of bad. They do what they can afford. When I was young, the ‘50s and ‘60s cars people were customizing, didn’t look like they do today. People that can afford those cars today have a lot of money in them, so they look even better than they did when they were new. Someday, that’ll happen to the cars they hot rod these days,” Fortune says.
A hot rod is an all-out assault on the senses. They’re fast, loud, dangerous and an ultimate expression of the person who created it. Goodwin’s creations are anti-establishment, anti-traditionalist, anti-cars. They make you question what a car has to be. To most people, a car is a tool to move you from one place to another. A hot rod is certainly for no such things. There is little certainty that you will ever make it to an ultimate destination at all, let alone in any sort of comfort. You don’t drive a hot rod to physically move yourself; you drive one to emotionally move yourself. In such, they are precisely engineered, flame-spitting works of art. Rolling abstract paintings.
Goodwin, an eccentric type, has owned 16 different cars at his young age. Many of his cars were anointed with personal Corbin-isms. His RX-7, however, was his first venture into the highly-modified world.
According to Goodwin, it was an exercise in self discipline. He wanted to prove to himself he could build something worth taking a breath for.
Goodwin has received plenty of positive encouragement from people all over the world. However, his RX-7 and subsequent builds have not been for internet glory, but for his own enjoyment.
Following the success of his RX-7 build, Goodwin immediately began planning his next creation, a 1979 Rolls Royce Silver Shadow II, to turn into the ultimate juxtapositioning drift car. His theory; take everything that makes a Rolls Royce a Rolls Royce, and throw it all away. This was a massive undertaking, and several years later, the project is finally reaching completion. Bespoke british parts and impossibly complicated vacuum lines prolonged the project. At one point, with school and job stress closing in, Goodwin became dejected with the project and turned his attention elsewhere.
Goodwin met David Salin, 24, while working at Amici’s Pizza on Topanga Canyon, Woodland Hills. Goodwin noted that Salin was down on his luck, and realized just what he needed to cheer up. Cut his car in half. Goodwin and Salin began the surprisingly unlaborious task of cutting the back end off of Salin’s 1998 Volkswagen Jetta diesel, curiously replacing the rear tires with space-saver spares and widening the front tires.
“The point of the car was to be a utilitarian vehicle. You can’t buy a truck that gets 50 mpg. It was more utilitarian than the joke people thought it was,” Salin says.
The creation was dubbed “The Jettamino” by the duo. The name being a combination of “Jetta” and “El Camino,” which the car now resembled.
“I Googled the Jettamino, and people were commenting how I’m just an exhibitionist,” Goodwin says.
“Very few people understood the build. [Corbin and I] refer to these people as muggles. They don’t know about the car world. Those people were like, ‘What the fuck is this?’ but overall, people usually liked it. They always asked why? The answer was why not,” Salin says. “The point of getting the Jetta diesel was to be an economical daily car, but it got boring pretty quick, so I did a bunch of mods to it.”
The Jettamino received notoriety on a smaller scale than the “Zero Fucks Given RX-7,” but nevertheless, reignited Goodwin’s drive to finish the Rolls Royce. Soon to be officially reviewed by the /Drive Channel, the Rolls Royce, which still feintly resembles a work of the famous British mark, is perhaps Goodwin’s craziest creation yet.
“The Jetta was a very conscience dig at the VW scene. That’s what I’m doing now with the Rolls. There’s a very angry side of me that’s building this to say screw you to a lot of different people,” Goodwin says. “The RX7 was just proving to myself that I can make something. The Rolls is just a question of can I do it myself. Can the second album follow the first?”
Goodwin retained the Rolls’ 6.75 liter V8 and stuck the largest turbo he could fit on it. It turns out, the largest turbo he can fit on it doesn’t actually fit in it. As a result, the Rolls is stretched, cut, mangled and warped in every way to accommodate the vast modifications to the engine and suspension.
The car is a true Frankenstein’s monster.
The Rolls is everything a Rolls Royce shouldn’t be, and everything a hot rod should. It doesn’t have a perfect paint job or interior, but it is perfect in it’s imperfections.
“If I tried to fix those fenders and paint over them, I can guarantee that it would look tacky. I want people to take it for what it’s worth,” says Goodwin, regarding the flared fenders he hand-pulled.
The turbo Rolls flies down suburban streets, garnering looks of every kind from everyone. A car such as the turbo Rolls could never be designed. Its labyrinth of pipework and widened fenders can only be created out of necessity and ingenuity.
“If you’re living a no surprises kind of life, you’re probably never going to look at your car and decide to cut pieces off. Maybe that’s a good thing, but when in life you can create a new object, why not.”
The turbo Rolls is polarizing. It is very, very fast. It is loud enough to shake the windows of nearby houses. The turbo Rolls is a textbook hot rod. It is an exact execution of chaos that could not be interpreted in any other way than it is.
“People get the impression I’m building the Rolls for the public, but I’m really doing it for myself, to prove something to myself,” Goodwin says.
When Goodwin is not working on his car or other projects, he enjoys perfecting his hobby of photography, and playing guitar in his band Bright Shade, which is currently in production of their first album. Goodwin has become something of an idol in the car world today. His unorthodox approach to modification is inspiring a new generation of car culture.
“Corbin is pretty influential from my point of view. I used to want a shiny car like everyone else; a WRX or something similar, but [Corbin is] all about creativity. My builds now are all about that now, too. I’m sick of the car scene now, just new cars on wheels. I think Corbin brings a lot to it,” Salin says.