Text: R. Collins
Photography: David DeHaan/Furry Mic Media
Grand Rapids, Michigan can be a relatively quiet city. Usually, it is equal parts work, play, and windy weather; but on the morning of Saturday, May 20 the uncharacteristic chorus of gusty engine growls introduced Grand Rapids to a unique collection of high-end, performance, and exotic cars fit for Las Vegas.
Outside the well-known Downtown Market, an eclectic mix of vehicles and their owners gathered under a shaded pavilion for visitors to meet. Cars and Coffee Grand Rapids was founded in 2015 by co-founder Andy Siradakis, a Specialty Equipment Market Association and International Show Car Association member.
Siradakis, who is an award-winning designer and builder in the automotive industry, said the event serves as a way to connect himself and other car design enthusiasts in western Michigan, as well as highlight the notable design of every car featured.
Perched at the entrance of the market along Ionia Avenue in Grand Rapids, a McLaren 570S Coupe from the famed McLaren Sport Series shined without the help of sunlight. Neighboring the McLaren, the shell of an original 1966 Ford GT40, adorned with a sky blue body coat—a single bright orange stripe down the middle and the number six—was unhinged with a canopy door in the back for passersby to view the inner-workings of a historic body.
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One of Siradakis’ own famed creations, a new Camaro SS, was on display once again after being showcased at the SEMA show in 2016. The Camaro, which is one of the first wide-bodied models in the country, sports a front splitter, side skirts, and rear spoiler built by hand with the help of Siradakis’ parts company known as Alpha Six Designs.
The body sits atop a set of custom-built racing wheels and a coilover suspension, allowing the car to adjust for ride height and damping, both of which can become increasingly important during unpredictable Michigan winters.
Though the Camaro was a new venture for Siradakis, he originally placed himself and his business in the Detroit area within the refurbishing trend movement, which seeks to sustain aging car features while introducing modern functionality. Siradakis still strives to find an aesthetic melding of both old and new features, and noted when his shop first opened he would work on anything that rolled in, from a nostalgic gas-powered car like a 1969 Camaro to a classic hot rod such as a new Mustang.
One thing that Siradakis appreciated about the refurbishing trend as compared to the recent introduction of self-driven cars to market is every vintage car that arrived for him to work on did not require more than one team to work on it: he could oversee the entire process.
“Things have changed since the late nineties,” said Siradakis “It used to be that you could put a new exhaust in the car for $600 or $700 and now its $5,000 to do a new exhaust system. It’s because the intricacies and the engineering behind it make up the cost to do things custom now. So that makes it challenging.”
When striking a balance between a car’s smarts and its nostalgic character, Siradakis challenges himself with appropriately tipping one in favor of the other to produce something truly unique. Sometimes however, balance is sacrificed for the sake of pushing the envelope. The reward is subjective for each designer and engineering team after breaking the mold with new vehicles such as self-driven cars.
“It’s about driving the car and getting behind the wheel; you’re not going to give that to someone else to do,” said Siradakis. “You’re certainly not going to give it to a computer, and that’s not why you buy, design, or modify a car.”
In response to new advances in automotive technologies that have significantly increased a specialization in jobs that can often be expensive for vehicle owners, Siradakis said he is in the process of developing a unique partnership in the Grand Rapids area allowing him to oversee many processes all at once. He hopes this will enable him to have the ultimate say in the marrying of technology, sound, and design.
For more information visit carsandcoffeegrandrapids.com