At automotive trade shows and most other car shows, you see a lot of similar projects. Popular vehicles are by their nature more prevalent. However, it’s the oddballs that always stand out in our eyes. The 1976 Ford B100 build in progress at River City Rods & Fabrication in Davenport, Iowa, looks to fit that bill in spades.

You’d be forgiven if you weren’t instantly familiar with the B100 platform. It is a Mexican-built three-door SUV created for the Latin American market. It was also available as panel van, but this creation, dubbed ‘El Chapo,’ is the family hauler variety and it looks like it will really haul when it makes it debut at this year’s Specialty Equipment Market Association show.

We can’t wait to see people’s reactions to the final product… — Pete Williamsen, Energy Suspension

“We plan to be going hot and heavy on this thing, especially for the next four weeks or so,” River City main man Craig Piggott said of the stretch run to the show. “It’s starting to get tight with time.”

River City Rods & Fabrication is creating a Coyote-powered, 1976 Ford GTB100 project for this year’s SEMA show in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo Credit: River City Rods & Fabrication)

SEMA projects are always operating on a deadline, but this one has a ton of support from manufacturers and a marketing team. It should yield an impressive result.

“Working with Craig and the River City Rods team has been an exciting project,” PBM Brand Manager Michael Murray said. “As a full-service marketing firm, our focus is not only on advertising and metrics, but relationships and partnerships. By making connections and creating real value for companies to support this blockbuster build through promotion and management, we have been able to ensure ‘El Chapo’ will feature the best aftermarket products from bumper to bumper.”


Based on a Roadster Shop chassis, this build is motivated by a Coyote crate engine and will benefit from a host of aftermarket products. Aeromotive, Energy Suspension, Holley, Painless Performance Products, and Thermo-Tec are among the companies chipping in with gear to make it come together — and help garner some attention on the frenetic show floor.

“Energy Suspension jumped at the chance to be a part of the River City GTB100 build for SEMA,” Pete Williamsen of Energy Suspension said. “Perhaps the most exciting thing about this build is that it embodies everything that has built Energy Suspension into the company it is today: creating a modern twist on a classic vehicle. With the Roadster Shop using Energy Suspension bushings on all of their chassis builds, and to have to have this chassis under an amazing Brazilian market unicorn like this B100 is just too cool! We can’t wait to see people’s reactions to the final product, and are so pumped about being able to play a part in bringing this remarkable vehicle build.”

Based on a Roadster Shop chassis, the project will feature a long list of aftermarket upgrades, including parts from Aeromotive, Energy Suspension, Holley, Painless Performance Products, Thermo-Tec, and others.

Besides the hardware, this project will need to look the part on the SEMA show floor. As such, it will wear an eye-catching hue on its flanks.

“PPG Refinish is proud to be a participating sponsor with River City Rod and Customs on its unique Ford GTB100 build,” Duane Dorminey of PPG said. “This partnership will showcase PPG’s industry leading products that help make builds like this possible from bare metal to the surface. We know this project will be a huge hit at SEMA 2018 and I am excited to be a part of this endeavor.”

The covers will come off the completed project at 10:30 a.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 30, in the Energy Suspension booth at the 2018 SEMA show in Las Vegas, Nevada. We’ll be sure to bring you a full report.