Tattooist three days a week, custom car builder two days a week and party animal at the weekend. Let me introduce you to Mr Radikal’s latest project.
Written by Tony Matthews
Photography by Tony & Carmen Matthews
A love for all things custom including Volkswagen and hotrod. Gianni is a tattoo artist for three days of the week and then for the rest of the time, he spends inside his custom shop called Radikalbugz. All of his friends join him inside the garage to build customers cars and to also work on their own projects. Meeting Gianni and his crew was one heck of an experience and one I will never forget.
I mean, how cool is it to have two passions, which you do as your daily job, whilst customising cars and partying with your friends at the same time! Each year he hosts some of the most awesome parties at his garage. For example, he hosted a sombrero hat and moustache party the other year and performed burnouts to entertain guests! How cool is that! He invited all his friends, customers and even guys from the uk! Gianni has definitely got something right here and we were welcomed with open arms on our visit.
Beer in one hand, with my camera in the other, I walk around one of the coolest lockups I’ve ever stepped into. Walking around the garage you can see numerous projects in progress, retro tools, awesome posters on the walls, memorabilia and custom cars that just blow your mind. Now last time that I visited Gianni, he was working on a very special project called ‘Green Thunderbolt’ which had yet to be finished and so on this visit, I was so excited to hear that Gianni had completed this killer Karmann Ghia you see right in front of you.
It was built over the last few years by Gianni and his crew. It is a 1964 USA model which he bought from a guy in Paris, who originally bought it from a guy in England, who that guy originally bought it from a guy based in Huntingdon beach California… still with me? Gianni always wanted a Karmann Ghia to customise for himself and as we know, he makes all cars as custom as possible and this is no exception with the Ghia. He wanted to keep the original look, but adding the custom touch to the engine, wheels and on how low he could roll with no air ride suspension.
It took him over three years to get the car looking and running, as he had to build it in between his customers cars and partying of course. When he bought the car, the bodywork was in great need of repair as it was rusty and there were a few panels that needed repair. It was not in a good state and Gianni was disappointed when he saw it, but he knew that he could make it look like new once he got his hands on it. The chassis also needed some work so he had to rebuilt the entire chassis, to ensure it was straight with no rust and stronger than before.
Exterior wise, Gianni wanted to keep as much of the original lines as possible and only added front and rear bumpers ordered from the USA in stainless steel and removed the boot lid for that mahoosive engine! The paint is a L412 diamond green that is an original paint colour used back in the 1950’s for Volkswagen. The gearbox has been raised by 3-inches in order to drop the body of the car as low as possible as the wheels are not that much cambered.
It was also strengthened and has a CBPerformance Super Differential. Gianni custom built his own coilover suspension kit, which has been reduced in length by a 6-inch kit for a static look. No air ride here people! The wheels are RDW in 135/80/15 at the front and 185/65/15 at the rear with Toyo tyres. Now for the engine. Just take a look at it, it’s so in your face it’s bonkers! Gianni slotted in a 2332cc engine from a Porsche, which has been completely rebuilt.
It has a hybrid T04E turbo and produces over 350bhp. It has a 1449 044 Magnum Plus (42 x 37.5) 94mm bore CB Performance cylinder head, a modified Holley carburettor 775cfm to fit the turbo exit pipe constructed from stainless steel in size of 41mm and the wastegate is 40mm. It has also a Holley 14psi fuel pump, custom made air filter housing with K&N Airfilter, Goodridge braided hose pipes, brake discs
and the front and drums at the rear.
At the time of the shoot he couldn’t fire her up, but I remember the noise the engine made last time I heard it and boy is it loud! Interior wise, Gianni entrusted a good friend called Casimir who has been doing interiors for the last 10 years as he knew he would deliver a superb finish inside. Gianni wanted the front to resemble the original looks of the Ghia with some added luxury in the form of the leather retrim to the seats and door cards. When you step into the car forgetting that extreme rear end and stripped out rear, you would have thought you stepped into a full restored classic.
Well, that is until you grab hold of the gear shift! This was created by Radikalbugz laser cut in aluminium and hand polished, which took 4 hours. Elsewhere inside, there is are Autometer gauges (temp/PSI), a Rev counter and USA style speed gauge surrounds. So what do you think? A pretty Radikal project hey! Purists may cringe at what Gianni has created, but when it comes to our passion of cars, we build them for us right? No matter what others may think or say. For me, this is a project that shows both sides of Gianni, purist at heart with a hit of party animal in the mix. The result, one awesome guy and some of the world’s most Radikal car builds.
Specifications Vehicle: 1964 Karmann Ghia
Engine: 2332cc engine from a Porsche, which has been completely rebuilt. It has a hybrid T04E turbo and produces over 350bhp. It has a 1449 044 Magnum Plus (42 x 37.5) 94mm bore CB Performance cylinder head, a modified Holley carburettor 775cfm to fit the turbo exit pipe constructed from stainless steel in size of 41mm and the wastegate is 40mm, gearbox has been raised by 3-inches.
Chassis: Custom built coilovers, Fully rebuilt and strengthened
Wheels & Tires: RDW wheels in 135/80/15 at the front and 185/65/15 at the rear with Toyo tyres.
Bodywork: Full body restoration, USA style front and rear bumpers, boot lid removed, L412 diamond green paint, body dropped.
Interior: Front seats trimmed in leather, stripped out rear, Radikalbugz laser cut aluminium gear shifter and AutoMeter gauges.