Customs & Classics
The only way to ensure you are driving the rarest cruiser in town is to invest in a one-of-a-kind, custom-built auto.
So after craving for something fun to park in his garage but refusing to settle for anything remotely common, that's exactly what Terence Costello did.
The New Plymouth man was quietly notified about a hand-built 2000 Ford Customline that had just hit the market, and for the hardcore Ford supporter it ticked all the right boxes.
Individuality was at the top of Costello's future automobile wish list and with the intricate blend of the body from a 56 Ford Customline grafted on to the bones of a 93 ED Falcon XR6 there was no disputing its uniqueness.
"It's a one-off car that no-one else will ever have," he says. "If I run into a truck tomorrow I can't go and get another one."
Costello became owner of the two-door coupe about three years ago. He had only just purchased a Falcon XR6 road car and wasn't in the market for another auto, but when the Customline became available he wasn't about to miss his opportunity to own such an exclusive vehicle.
He always admired the harlequin finished hardtop, explaining he knew of its existence through a mutual friend of owner and creator Whanganui man Rod Sklenars.
"I knew the history of it and I appreciated the workmanship that went in to it."
Costello says the car was hand-built by Sklenars, who spent 6000 hours manufacturing the car he named Alien. The Whanganui man already owned a supercharged coupe and longed for an economical and comfortable cruiser with all the modern conveniences. Merging the two donor cars was the obvious answer for the panelbeater who was also a Ford man.
The 1956 Customline replica is Ford through and through with much of the parts being fabricated by Sklenars who even painted the custom auto.
Under the hand-crafted bonnet roars a six-cylinder XR6 engine while it rolls on 16-inch Centrelines wrapped in BFG "O-rings".
Sklenars enjoyed the fruits of his labour for a few years before selling Alien to Costello - who then revamped the car by painting it purple and renaming it The Phantom.
"Because it became mine I wanted to change the name," he explains. "It was almost like a fresh start."
Costello says he dubbed the modern classic The Phantom as that was the name of the shade of purple used to redecorate the car, and he chose the colour purple because it was a Ford XR8 factory colour. "You have to paint a Ford a Ford colour," he says.
The Egmont Rod and Custom Club member and speedway frequenter says he is a natural-born petrol head who has loved cars his entire life.
"I'm not really sure why I like Fords, though, probably because I had a couple in my earlier days and they were good cars."
Costello says he is entirely content with The Phantom and all its distinctiveness, and continues to make the most of the car by taking it out on club runs and weekend cruises.
"I'm pretty happy with it; it's like a late running model car to drive."
- Taranaki Daily News