In the early 90s Steve turned to building hot rods and customs, It became apparent that each finished car was a one-off, a personal expression of creativity by the owner and builder. The classical art of coach building, which is so much a part of automotive history, became a foundation on which Steve built each hot rod and custom to come through the shop.
By 2003 Steve had met automotive designer Chris Ito. Together they laid the ground work to design and construct a one-off hand crafted roadster inspired by Ford's 1933 model 40. One of the first hot rods to be rendered by modern computer technology, this car would be constructed from scratch using steel sheet and tubing, modern welding method's and old world coach building techniques.
The result was a stunning, operational vehicle that combined the elegance of the Ford model 40, the old world craft of coach built automobiles with a modern sense of design and visual excitement of today's exotic supercars.
The success of the first one led to the thought of what the car would look like with fenders. Inspiration once again came from the original model 40, coach built automobiles, and more designs by Chris Ito.
During this process the word "renaissance" became associated with the car. The term refers to a transitional movement in Europe between medieval and modern times (14th-17th century) which exhibited great advances in art, literature, science, technology, and architecture.
The new project would eclipse the non-fendered car in all areas of design and technology. The coach built craft would remain the dominant method of construction. The body and all sheet metal would be fabricated in 063 3003 aluminum sheet and steel tubing. The frame and select chassis parts would be from steel sheet and steel tubing, Stainless was selected for fasteners and suspension spacers. Brass and silica bronze for trim and castings.
The "Renaissance Roadster would incorporate advanced design and machining methods utilizing computer aided design illustration and modelling programs such as Solidworks, 5 axis CNC milling machines, and a couple thousand pounds of billet aluminum.
A visual theme developed around an early '30s Cadillac interior dome light. The "Art Deco" motif found at each end of the part was utilized in everything from suspension and exterior trim to stitched patterns on the seats. The "renaissance look" was even applied to color selection as seen in the oil paintings of the era.
In addition, the chassis and drivetrain received extra attention in the form of highly sculptured design shapes such as tapers, peaks, and sweeps. The drive shaft, half shafts, steering links, suspension supports, steering wheel/drop are examples using tapered shapes. Directional peaks were created on frame tubes and rear A-arms inspired by the peak running down the center console.
Wherever possible one component "sweeps" into another. The A-arms sweep into the frame. The frame tubes sweep into the frame rails. The frame rail sweeps into fenders and running boards. The steering wheel sweeps into the drop. The console sweeps into the dash. The fan shroud sweeps into the inner hood sides, etc.
Components that would normally receive a decorated cover such as the radiator tanks, oil pan, water pump, differential, and air cleaner were designed and built to be functioning components, aesthetically pleasing without a cover. A good example is the upper radiator tank. The shape makes up the actual tank, not a cover to hide the component.
REN-AIS-SANCE French from REN - back, again - NAISSANCE = birth
Latin-nascentia = be born
"The Renaissance is considered a movement or period of vigorous artistic and intellectual activity. A revival of classical influence expressed in art, literature, and science."
When applied to people, Webster says a "Renaissance man or woman" is considered a person "highly cultivated, skilled, and well versed in many, or ideally, all of the arts and sciences." This definition certainly describes the dedication, vision and hard work of the car owners, Steve and his talented crew in this build by Steve's Auto Restorations.