The year was 2006, a very significant year in the world of illusions and artful deception. So much so it was commemorated as the year in magic. Some of the most renown and recognized magicians who captivated their audiences with levitation and vanishing acts, were now capturing headlines and appearing on national networks all around the country.
Monte Carlo Resort magician Lance Burton kicked off the New Year in the Tournament of Roses Parade in Pasadena, California. Burton, who signed the longest entertainment contract in Vegas, appeared once again that same year on prime time TV, during the Jerry Lewis MDA telethon.
Also in 2006, Simon Caldwell of American Idol fame, announced a new show that was in search of magicians. That show was America’s Got Talent and magicians were now sharing the stage and spotlight with other specialty acts and performers. Criss Angel secured the second season for his show Mindfreak that year and Disney launched Disney Live, Mickey’s Magic Show. Even the richest and possibly best known magician David Copperfield got in on the act. After he and his party were approached at gun point, Copperfield magically thwarted the robbery attempt by making his pockets appear empty. The culprits attempted a vanishing act of their own but were later apprehended by the authorities.
2006 has come and gone however, Carter Ingram kept a memento from that year and has a trick up his sleeve. He and his team of builders plan to work a little magic of their own that will delight car show spectators abroad starting this fall.
The stage is set for The 2012 SEMA Show ( the leading automotive products trade event in the world) at the Las Vegas Convention Center; Las Vegas, Nevada; Oct 30 – Nov 2, 2012. Carter will not attempt to pull a rabbit from a hat or perform card tricks. What he has planned will be much more fascinating and spellbinding. On the grandest stage in the automotive world, Carter will unveil a 2006 Trailblazer SS that has been transformed and reincarnated into what he describes as, “an asphalt assassin with nearly 670 hp and 625 ft lbs of torque”.
Whip Appeal caught up with Carter to tell us more about his project “Smoke N Mirrors”. We have also included a special video presentation that features current progress of the build leading up to SEMA 2012.
(Whip Appeal): Carter, give our readers a little background on you. How would you describe yourself?
(Carter Ingram/Owner of Smoke-N-Mirrors): I’m a leap-year baby, born in 1968. I am self employed, doing legal research at a family law firm in southwest Virginia. My hobbies include music, all custom vehicles, and enjoying the fellowship of my friends. Being in the Blue Ridge Mountains, a lot of outdoor adventure awaits you all year round. You can find me and my wife- yes I am married- blazing the Blue Ridge Parkway, seeking out the next festival or vineyard on any giving weekend, blasting Zeppelin and Queen for all within ear shot to hear.
(Whip Appeal): When did you first become fascinated with custom vehicles and what made you decide to take on the challenge of customizing your own at this point in your life?
(Carter Ingram/Owner of Smoke-N-Mirrors ): I’ve always enjoyed cars and really enjoyed car components, stereos, paint jobs, motors and interiors. When I moved to FL, I saw car competitions with car audio. The Daytona nationals were an eye opener to say the least.
I was 44 years old when I decided to build Smoke N Mirrors, Sitting at my desk in my office. In October 2011, I wanted a rendering as a Christmas gift. As luck would have it, Bill Denham of Karbon Kreationz just happened to call the very night I was looking for his number. Bill and I had worked together on a related project called DARK DREAM 3 years prior. Bill and I started talking SEMA and as the rendering started to come along, so did the idea of doing a real build with the Trailblazer SS. Kris Carroll agreed to jump on board with his team and new shop. So from there, we loaded up the SS and shipped him (referring to the Trailblazer) to Fort Smith, Arkansas where he is getting ready to dazzle the senses and delight the mind’s eye.
The team involved with this build has always felt like family, excited members clamoring to join.
(Whip Appeal): What club affiliation if any are you associated with?
(Carter Ingram/Owner of Smoke-N-Mirrors ): I do not belong to any car clubs, way too much drama. I have seen 1st hand how small this truck scene really is.
(Whip Appeal): From all accounts this is going to be one hot project once completed and unveiled at SEMA 2012, tell our readers more about Smoke-N-Mirrors and how it was conceptualized.
(Carter Ingram/Owner of Smoke-N-Mirrors ): After Brainstorming the project with Bill Denham of Karbon Kreationz, we came up with the name and theme for the project. The theme was to ‘trick the eye, see things that aren’t really there…”illusion”. I suggested Smoke N Mirrors. We set out to make a vehicle that sets the standard for years to come (not to add to it). This build is not just about me, I want this project to generate business for my team members.
Smoke N Mirrors is my vision of a re-entry vehicle. A future enforcer and street freak. This SS is unique because each artist/craftsman on the team has full creative freedom. They have my permission to do what they want to anytime they want to do something, I don’t micro manage. This build is for me to treasure for all time, not to be sold to the highest bidder at Barrett. He (Smoke-N-Mirrors) will be blistering the asphalt all around the nation, destroying the competition on the East coast while setting trends for the west coast to follow. The team and I are creating an asphalt assassin with nearly 670 hp and 625 ft lbs of torque. My vision is to cause chaos wherever I go and for the fans to be amazed at the incredible craftsmanship my team family has given to the world.
(Whip Appeal): When and where did you buy this Trailblazer and was it purchased specifically to customize?
(Carter Ingram/Owner of Smoke-N-Mirrors ): TheTrailblazer was purchased stock from the dealership. It was originally going to be a garage kept weekend warrior.
I was in the market to buy a new car. The Trailblazer test drove well and after seeing the SS badge, I bought the 2006 Trailblazer SS AWD new from the dealership, right off the transport truck. I had to have it because of the rarity of this vehicle. Plans of it being a daily driver soon dissolved into custom dreams. I had not seen one yet and had to have this monster in black. Because it was new I was scared to take him out in public so the mileage was low, only 12,572 on the odometer when Kris Carroll tore him down.
(Whip Appeal): After plans transformed from daily driver to show custom, explain the conversations and processes that took place once you were all in on creating this one of a kind custom build.
(Carter Ingram/Owner of Smoke-N-Mirrors ): I talked to Kris Carroll, he started the storybook tale, he said yes he could do the build, and yes it could be done in time for SEMA Show 2012. I was extremely excited…on a scale of 1 to 10, it was definitely an 11!
I was enthusiastic, eager, like a child with his first toy. When I was talking with Bill Denham and we started putting the family together we had 1 rule; excitement must be ground zero for that person in regards to my build. We went through quite a list, but we weeded out the bad components and blazed a bold new path to achieve our goals for SEMA. From day one, I have always let my team do what they do, without confining them to my pre-conceived idea about something from this I like to I like that on that truck, etc. I gave each artist a canvas with the expectation that they would, with passion and true friendship as opposed to just another client, return a masterpiece back to me.
(Whip Appeal): Once the ball got rolling was it smooth sailing or were there setbacks along the way? When did you know for sure this vision would be reality?
(Carter Ingram/Owner of Smoke-N-Mirrors ): Well now, it gets a little crazy here. With a deep breath…….! It all started by phone as we began making battle plans to conquer the show scene when I realized, Dang, I am not a rock star, nor a pro athlete, what shall I do? Bill says we must have marketing. Steve Burkett from SCI comes on board and like a shooting star, gets 2 sponsors and slowly burns out. After that happened, I challenged the family to step up. Kris Carroll calls his contacts, Robbie Bryant helps out and then it hits Bill and I like a ton of lead…”WE CAN FREAKIN MARKET”!!!!! So we hit the phones ourselves, sent e-mails and made even more calls. At the time of this interview, we are still getting folks on board with the hottest build of 2012.
(Whip Appeal): What’s unique about the project and your team?
(Carter Ingram/Owner of Smoke-N-Mirrors ): Well for starters the vehicle is rare to begin with. It’s an all wheel drive. It’s only the second one to be done…ever.
My team is unique, the best of the best, the cream of the crop, in my opinion.
There’s a lot of one off stuff on this project like custom ½ steel frame, hand made custom solid 1 piece spindles, upper and lower control arms. More custom tricks include a 1-off engine cradle to hold the stroked LS2, which is not common place. A custom exhaust sits under the beast. Next let us discuss the body, it’s as smooth as a prom queen. Smoke N Mirrors is devoid of outside distractions which only confuse those already in ah of what they are seeing before them. Finally the paint is being done by the artist formally knows as Ed Williamson. What we envision is several months of intense air brushing work both inside and outside, bumper to bumper. That is just the tip of the illusion.
(Whip Appeal): When will Smoke N Mirrors be complete and where will it be unveiled?
(Carter Ingram/Owner of Smoke-N-Mirrors ): This Halloween at SEMA (Las Vegas, NV 2012, baby!) Right now we are set to unveil at the street trucks booth but you never know.
(Whip Appeal): Any future projects planned after Smoke N Mirrors
(Carter Ingram/Owner of Smoke-N-Mirrors ): Yes I’m looking at a couple. Either a 300m or the new Buick enclave could be the next victim. I may even do the wife’s 2001 ford escape for her.
(Whip Appeal): I do understand how addictive customizing and modifying cars can become. Well Carter, what final thoughts or comments would you like to make?
(Carter Ingram/Owner of Smoke-N-Mirrors): Of course thanks to all my sponsors, you can see the list from the stickers on the Smoke N Mirrors rendering. And thanks to my mom who inspired me to follow the yellow brick road to Vegas!
(Whip Appeal): We wish you much success at the unveiling at SEMA and will follow up for more images of the completed project afterwards. We would love to share them with our readers!
When Carter first shared his vision and rendering with his team it was if they had responded, “your wish is my command”. But words like abracadabra and hocus pocus did not produce Smoke N Mirrors, hard work and creativity did. There was no waving of magic wands or granting of 3 wishes. Although the name may imply optical illusion, this truck is no hologram, its real! It’s a testament to the master craftsmen and artists including the fabricators, painters and other team members and sponsors who used their skills, shops, resources, products and imagination to turn this street dream into a roaring and rumbling reality.
The intricate paint scheme, airbrush work and other intriguing details of this project will mesmerize you but make no mistake about it, Smoke N Mirrors is not the work of magic. It’s a work of art !
CLICK BELOW- to see the video of the current progress and transformation of this one of a kind build.
Make sure to check out Smoke-N-Mirrors at SEMA Show 2012!
Until Next Time,
D. Smith/WhipAppeal Blog and WhipCreamz CarWax
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