The custom car building scene has really blown up over the last decade or so with self-made shops all over the world providing high quality hand-built craftsmanship for us to feast our eyes on and drool over idea after idea for inspiration. But when it comes to truly inspiring custom shops owned by up and coming custom builders who have already made their mark in the custom automotive industry, there are only a handful that come to mind. In our never-ending quest here at Slam’d Mag to bring you the best of the best from around the globe we tracked down Graeme Brewer, owner of Down Town Kustoms in New South Wales, Australia to show you first hand this awe-inspiring shop.
Photos: James Cause | Words: Mike Alexander
For this special “Encore” feature for Issue 03 we wanted to do something a little different and bring you a behind-the-scenes look at Down Town Kustoms so we sat owner Graeme Brewer down and asked him some questions about how DTK came to be and what the future holds. At a ripe young age of 30 years old, he is well on his way to the history books of custom car building, and we can’t wait to see what he comes up with next!
Slam’d Mag: What was the first vehicle to roll out of DTK?
Graeme DTK: “We started off building minitrucks about eight years ago now. It was ‘bag job after ‘bag job back then. Basically, it was a drive it in and drag it out type of deal and we’ve grown from there.”
Slam’d: What’s your favorite build that DTK has put out to date?
DTK: “I love every single car that we build here, but a personal favorite of mine is Peter Sharps ‘SHQRP’ Widebody bare-metal Monaro HQ. Was truly a fun and challenging build.”
Slam’d: What’s your favorite shop memory?
DTK: “Hmmm that’s a hard one, there’s been so many good times and hard times as well. But the first thing that pops into my head is seeing our shop cat ‘Quinny’ running around with a plastic cape and mask that we put on him one time for shits and giggles (laughs). Probably a weird favorite memory but it always brings a smile to my face!”
Slam’d: What made you want to open your own shop? Who did you learn from?
DTK: “My passion for fabrication and custom cars is what pushed me to open up my own shop. I live in a small beach town on the East Coast of Australia and there isn’t much automotive work here, especially custom work like what we do, so about eight years ago now I decided to just go for it. In the early days I learned a lot from Jason Lutrell. From there I was self taught and inspired by Laurie Starling from The Chop Shop, BBT Fab, Little Shop of Horrors, and of course – Rad Rides. I strive everyday to better myself and push toward inspiring others.”
Slam’d: What are your most recent builds? What are you currently working on?
DTK: “Currently we are building an awesome little FE Holden. It’s a full ground-up build, basically fabricating everything from scratch. We turned it into a coupe, chopped the roof, full custom IFS, LS3 drivetrain, big billets, you know – the usual goodies. An FE is similar to a ’56 Chevy in the states but scaled down so it’s quite a bit smaller and just screams fun.”
Slam’d: What’s the craziest mod/build ever done at DTK?
DTK: “Probably my 1931 Ford Tudor laid completely flat with a custom I-beam and canti frontend that we designed and built. The whole car is pretty radical, hopefully get to finishing it someday – but you know what they say, the show maker’s daughter goes barefoot and all that.”
Slam’d: What do you hope to accomplish in the future for DTK?
DTK: “I’d like to bring the wide body Monaro over to the states for the SEMA Show or something big. I haven’t been there yet and it’s a dream of mine to go to SEMA and meet Troy Trepanier amongst a million other things to see and do there haha (laughs). I’d also love to finish off our personal builds and enjoy cruising them and showing them alongside our fellow Severed Ties club members and the rest of the custom scene.”
Special Thanks: “My girl Kelly for all of her support through the years, my family, the entire DTK team, Damo, Ayden, all of our clients and supporters, Mike Alexander and the crew at Slam’d Mag, along with everyone else who continues to innovate and inspire!”
Name: Down Town Kustoms (DTK)
Number of Employees: Three
Years in Business: Eight
Specialties: Complete custom builds, chassis, suspension, body, panel, and paint