At Pure Vision, the cars and people are anything but ordinary
Located in Simi Valley, Calif., Pure Vision has become a world-renowned street machine fabrication shop.
Pure Vision cars have a very signature concept and build style that can be described as simple, straightforward and well-detailed. People just seem to know when it’s a Pure Vision original.
"The stuff that influenced me when I was younger, and to this day — that mixed bag of different things I like from super cars and sports cars to muscle cars — has allowed me to have my own unique design style that, love it or hate it, is its own thing,” says shop owner Steve Strope.
The upstate New Yorker moved to Southern California in 1995 to “try the car thing,” convincing an aluminum street rodder parts builder to hire him.
From 1995 to 97, he paid his dues, while also building a ’66 Dodge Charger he called Skully in his free time from his shared, underground two-car, tandem parking garage. That car went on to become cover and Top 10 Car of the Year with Hot Rod Magazine, and it was done on a shoestring budget.
“That (build) had a lot of media open their eyes to this kid named Steve,” says Strope. “Hot Rod called me up and invited me to build a giveaway car for Penzoil and I had to sheepishly tell them that I had no shop, to which they let me use their shop.”
The evolution from a kid who had no garage of his own to the operation that stands today took a lot of hard work and dedication. When Strope opened his first shop (down the street from his current facility), he had no money to speak of. Strope had to choose between a place to live and a place to work.
He slept on a bed next to the lift in a space he rented and joined a local gym for use of the showers. Mornings were spent eating Cheerios while ordering parts, and work on cars went into the early morning hours.
It was a ’71 Duster named Dust’ya, a car built by Strope in this small shop, that was noticed by Chrysler at a Hot Rod Power Tour. Dust’ya went on to be a cover car, centerfold, Top 10 Car of the Year for Hot Rod Magazine, a die-cast replica and more. The Duster, which Strope claims was his first big deal to come out of that small shop he also lived in, was later purchased by former Major League Baseball right fielder Reggie Jackson.
Today, Strope and his team work out of a nearly 4,000-square-foot facility featuring two bays and more than 10 project cars at a time. The fabricators use Miller® welding and cutting products exclusively:
“Anything that allows me to raise our game and create a higher-quality build makes my company look better and that’s very important,” said Strope. “I’ve got top-quality tools that help us to build a top-quality car, which keeps my longevity in my industry and people spending money with my company.”
Projects range from troubleshooting and basic modifications to building a car from the ground up. As they work to put a car together, Pure Vision takes pride in the shop’s ability to incorporate a theme throughout the build.
“We call it the Easter egg hunt,” said Strope.
From the fasteners to the interior elements, the theme becomes more and more visible to car enthusiasts. People will go back to his car three and four times at a show and keep finding something new that they didn’t see before.
“That means I did my job right because there are hundreds of modifications, and you saw a bunch of them, not all of them,” said Strope. “They all didn’t stand out, which means it looked like it belonged there — even though it’s a handmade piece.”
A recent build — the T5R Martini Mustang — resulted from Strope brainstorming, “What if Martini Racing got together with Ford in the mid-’60s?”
Unveiled at the 2012 SEMA Show, the car took home the Ford Best of Show award for Outstanding Achievement in Design and has received extensive editorial coverage. Learn more and watch overview video of car unveiling at SEMA.
Currently the shop is building a ’72 Chevrolet Camaro nicknamed TT, or Twin Turbo, which they are hoping to unveil at SEMA 2013. Watch the following videos for more information on the build and related work taking place.
When Strope is not at the shop wrenchin’ on cars or attending his daughter Camber’s dance recitals with wife Allyson, he gives back by supporting a variety of charitable organizations.
Most special to him is his involvement with The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis. The organization works with many corporations and previously had a Mattel wing with a design center.
It just so happened that Strope had a long-standing relationship with Mattel, Inc. He’d done prototype work, built them a full-size ’66 GTO for promotional use (in the Mattel wing of the museum) and had a 12-car line of Hot Wheels® cars with Pure Vision branding. He visited the museum a few times annually, working to educate and inspire the children, some of them suffering from illness.
Strope hopes to someday build a car there and let kids watch something go together. His goal is to have a little fun and encourage youth to get interested in the car culture.
“I was a little kid and all I needed was that little race gas, just injected in, and you can’t get it out. You’ll never get it out,” said Strope. “Some people tell me, ‘I remember when I had my car phase…’
“Car phase…?” says Strope, in awe. “I don’t even know what that means.”