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SRP January Builder: Barry Penfound

Barry Penfound is the owner of Penfound Design and our January Builder. Barry started customizing cars in 2002. His debut car was the 1959 Buick LoSabre. We asked him a few questions about his start in the customization business and  projects we can expect from Penfound Design in the future.

 Here is what he had to say:


Q: How long have you been in the car customization industry?

Penfound Design has been in the customization industry since 2002 when the 1959 Buick LoSabre made its debut.

 Q:What got you started in this business?

The LoSabre project grew out of the feeling that customs were having a rebirth after being nearly ignored in the ‘70s, ‘80s and ‘90s. Increased notice for events like the Detroit Autorama and the SEMA show was joined by outdoor events like Goodguys, the Hot Rod Power Tour, Super Chevy, the National Street Rod Association Nats, and the Hot Rod & Restoration Show. While I had an automotive background with interest in survivor cars and restored vehicles, which I owned and wrote about for various magazines, there seemed to be a buzz about custom cars which I felt was very cool! I got the notion that I might be able to design and coordinate the build for a ‘new age’ custom and LoSabre was born.

 Q. What is the best part about being in the auto customization industry?

The best part of the auto customization industry is its vitality. There is room for Old School traditional customs, new age, or new millenium customs like Penfound Design cars, plus hot rods, tuners, imports, trucks exotics and more. There are new products being introduced constantly, from hard-to-find trim pieces to entire car bodies, and many companies, like PPG Industries, Flaming River, Toyo, GM Performance Parts, Air Ride Technologies and Classic Industries are enthusiastically supporting the idea that custom cars can help represent their products.

 Q.     How would you describe your style of customization?

Descriptions of my cars range from New Millenium Customs to Pro Mod to LoRod to new age customs. I just call them ‘Smooth and Clean’. My basic plan is to have the cars look like what the company might build today with current wheel, tire, paint, engine and suspension and body skills. Our latest project, the 1964 Pontiac ‘Sabertooth’ GTO for example, uses some familiar Pontiac styling cues from the past, along with one-off 20-inch wheels and an aggressive stance that makes the most of its heritage.

 Q.     What was the first car you ever restored?

The first restoration PD coordinated was for a 1966 427/390 HP Corvette coupe in 1996 which later earned a National Corvette Restoration Society Top Flight award. Shops which contributed were Classic Revivals (body and paint), Weber Racing (engine/transmission), and Chuck’s Custom Design (interior), all Ohio companies.

 Q. Do you have a favorite car that you restored?

The favorite car is always the next one, although LoSabre has a special place because it was the first custom!

Q. How would you describe your success?

If a person who is just starting to enjoy customs looks at the ‘Sabertooth’ GTO and says “Nice car!” and walks away, while a hardcore experienced custom fan can spend 45 minutes looking at the GTO and says, “Nice car!” to me that is a successful project.

Q.     What’s next for Penfound Design?

There are three cars underway at the moment at Penfound Design…one uses an LS7 427 motor, the second uses an original 1969 427 engine and the third uses a flathead… and they are all ‘smooth and clean’.

LoSabre Designed by Penfound.

Visit for more information and images of Barry’s work.