Photography by Jeff Ragazzo
When Las Vegas plumber Rory Griffith dove into his Chrysler 300C project just over three years ago, we'll bet he never envisioned the splash it would ultimately make. What he did anticipate was going “way past what all others had done” to use his own words; but, with the final touches applied in the form of the outstanding interior and audio system by Industry Auto Designs, Griffith's mean C was picked by voters as the winner of the 2013 Phoenix Gold Builders Challenge. Here's how it all came together.
Griffith is no stranger to project vehicles. For 15 years he was active in the show scene, building SEMA and CES show rides for customers and companies for 10 of those fun years. This time out, he was able to take a back seat and enjoy the work of others, including the prestigious Tommy Rocker Auto Fabrication.
To achieve the paint-scraping ride height, front tubular upper control arms and drop spindles have been hand-made to work with the 300C chassis. The frame rails are reinforced and plated with the fabricated mount for the threaded hydraulic cylinders, which are supplied by Parker bladder accumulators. This completely one-off setup provides an extreme range of suspension travel. The rear has received a similar treatment with hand-built upper cylinder mounts and two more accumulators for ride comfort.
Naturally, Griffith plumbed all the air lines and installed the “1 pump, 5 dump” Hydroholics manifold. He also added the 6,000 k HID headlights and the smoked rear taillamps himself while Danny Demello at Best Muffler Shop installed the Magnaflow exhaust and custom piping necessary to make it fit with the body drop. Unlike many off-the-shelf air ride kits, all of the tanks and lines have been kept completely hidden from sight – one of the many clever touches that help to set this vehicle apart.
The body and rear pan got dropped by Tommy Rocker Auto Fabrication, and the trunk and rear doors tubbed to fit the monster 26x9-inch Velocity 725S wheels. Tires are an equally-ridiculous 275/25-26 size from Fullrun, and look just right disappearing deeply into the fenders at full drop. Martel has also shaved the gas door and rolled the inside of the fenders, as well as handled the body work and the painting of the roof gloss black.
The result of all of the love lavished on the exterior is a slick sort of hunkiness; it looks like a Dub toy found at a Toys “R” Us. It makes an impression without making a sound. At this point, the car sat for a while while Griffith considered possible interior modifications.
Enter Industry Auto Designs and the Phoenix Gold Builders Challenge. Industry Audio Designs had just been approved for the Phoenix Gold contest and Andrew Evers, the CEO of IAD, was looking for a nice car with a virgin interior. “When we heard about the challenge and were approved, we hit all of our outlets – friends, family and looked at shop cars as well as the car clubs we work with. We did some interviews, looking for a common enough vehicle that everyone could relate to and be able to have freedom with on the install.”
Evers knew Griffith from his work on past project vehicles, so it can be considered a match made in heaven. The only fly in the ointment was they would have only 30 days to complete a contest-winning audio installation. Impossible, right? Wrong.
To begin, they stripped the insides to the bare walls and removed the rear window so that four Phoenix Gold Ti10D2 subwoofers could be mounted in the rear deck on angled mounts, and the enclosure below them built with a clear acrylic “pass through window” into the interior. This meant the rear bench seat would have to be converted into captains chairs. Since they were going that far, they went a step further and did a complete color change from the OEM tan to blue suede and black vinyl and leather for the seats and all of the interior panels. The hard trim pieces are repainted blue to match the exterior finish with a “hydro graphic” to finish it off with a silvery pattern that also migrates to the steering wheel. Other nice touches include smoked, back-lit gauges and remote-mounted PG bass control.
Since IAD was required to document the build on the Phoenix Gold website, there's a YouTube video showing exactly how this was accomplished. Evers touches upon the difficulty involved with periodically stopping to record these types of segments: “It's hard to be in the zone building and remembering to stop and document what you're doing, then pop back into build mode. Sometimes we get on such a good flow you forget you have to be able to show how you got there.”
Another short video segment shows one of the IAD crew members hand-cutting the distinctive arches on a router table to form the blue LED-backlit center console that splits the middle of the interior. After shaping, the console is upholstered in blue suede and black vinyl to match the rest of the double-stitched custom interior. IAD incorporates its logo into the tops of the seats, the etched acrylic panels in the trunk and on the custom door panels, each of which holds a Phoenix Gold Ti65cs and a Ti5cx along with two Ti series tweeters. There's an R4cx center channel speaker on top of the dash.
The midrange speakers are powered by a Ti800.4 amplifier that Phoenix Gold describes as an overbuilt, competition-level amplifier with built-in low- and high-pass ranges. Meanwhile, the subs are driven by a powerful Ti1500.1 mono amplifier. Both amps are mounted to a swing-out aluminum amp rack in the trunk, and above the “flying Phoenix” etched bottom acrylic panel, which covers the five Optima Blue Top batteries.
Since the only rule in the competition is that the builders must use Phoenix Gold products, everything comes from AAMP (the parent company of PG), including the Stinger wiring, cloth and vinyl used in the trunk upholstery, the fuses, wire connectors and even the Roadkill sound deadening material. Only the source unit – an Apple iPad cleverly mounted horizontally in the center console – comes from outside the AAMP family.
When the contest ended and the worldwide votes tallied up, this evil C topped impressive builds from Europe, North America and South America. Sure, this 300C was impressive to start with, but in just 30 days IAD transformed it from show-goer to show-winner. In fact, at the recent West Coast Nationals it swept up first place in the full-size car category and also won the 'Best Interior' award.
“As far as being chosen as the #1 USA and #1 global winner, it was a social media contest, which meant voters had to go to the site and vote online. This was a new hurdle for us here,” says Evers. “Not only were we on a time crunch, but we had to remember to film and photograph a lot of our work along the way and produce videos and slide shows with music and effect and post them along the way.”
“The crowds at local shows and the comments we received are what keep us doing what we do,” he says. “At Industry Auto Designs, our main focus is enjoying what we do daily; being able to be creative using the right tools and hardware to create masterpieces that people of all ages will enjoy. We like to be challenged. We don't like the norm or things that can be easily duplicated.”
Mission accomplished, gentlemen. Mission accomplished. The only question left is: 'Is it too early to start planning for the next Builders Challenge?'
Vehicle: 2006 Chrysler 300C
Driver: Rory Griffith
Built by: Industry Auto Design
Location: Las Vegas, NV
Engine: 5.7L HEMI
Horsepower: 650 hp
Torque: 600 lb-ft
K&N air filter
Injen air intake
Magnaflow exhaust system with custom piping
D3 (performance transmission, 1,000-hp axles)
ACT triple plate clutch
Driveshaft Shop (carbon fiber driveshaft, pro level 1,600-hp axles)
Winters quick change differential
CHASSIS / SUSPENSION
Parker bladder accumulators suspensions
Hand built upper cylinder mounts, body dropped rear pan 2 ½”
Custom (front upper control arms, spindles, frame rails reinforced and plated with fabricated mount)
Rear trunk has been tubbed,
1 pump 5 dump Hydroholics manifold with 4 corner accumulators for ride comfort.
Hydraulics and hard lines
WHEELS / TIRES / BRAKES
Velocity 725s wheels – 26x9 (f/r)
Fullrun HP199 tires – 275/25 ZR26 (f/r)
Rear doors tubbed to fit 26” wheels and still lay body
Shaved gas door
6K HID headlights
iPad dash bezel with modified vents
Vinyl, suede, paint, hydro graphics with aluminum flat stock upholstering
Hydro dipped (shift knob, steering wheel)
Smoked and back lite gauges
Re-upholster with custom stitched seats
Custom (fiberglass door panels, 1-pc. center console, true captain’s chairs rear seats, rear deck lid fiber glassed)
Carpet color match interior
Suede headliner, suede pillars,paint, and vinyl on doors)
Industry Auto Design logo’s integrated into front doors
LED back lighting
AUDIO / MOBILE ELECTRONICS
Apple iPad3 head unit
Industry Auto designs processors
Phoenix Gold (Ti8800.4 and Ti500.1 amplifiers, Ti10D2 subwoofers (x4), Ti65CS component speakers (x4), Ti5CX coaxial speakers (x4), Ti Series Tweeters, R4CX coaxial speakers)
Optima Blue Top battery
Stinger (fuse holder, main power wire, distribution block)
Phoenix Gold, Industry Auto Designs, Best Muffler Shop, Tommy Rocker Auto Fab