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Be it from an underground parking garage space, or from his top secret laboratory deep in Simi Valley, CA, Steve Strope has produced some of the most controversial Mopars ever. From Skully to GTX-R and more recently, Hammer, Strope's company, Pure Vision and crew continue to crank out creations.

Strope began early in his career of building and modifying vehicles. As a young lad in the small upstate New York town of Apalachin. Strope modified nearly everything he could get his hands on. Normal was never good enough. From completely reconfiguring small toy cars and repainting Star Wars figures, to overwinding the armatures on slot cars and combining AMT model kits into completely unique creations, he could never leave anything alone.

As time went on Steve would mask out a flame job on the family riding lawn tractor, and repaint his Dad’s car more than once while the folks were out on vacation. Steve Strope moved out to California in 1995, and at 38 years old is just getting rolling despite having more than a few creations to fall back on. We had a chance to talk with Strope recently. Following is the first in a two-part interview with the man behind the machines.

MM: Were you a cars kid?

STROPE: Oh yeah, I modified every toy that I had.

MM: How did you modify them?

STROPE: I can show you. You ever hear of Stomper 4x4s? They are AA-battery powered, with little foam wheels. [He places the actual modified Stomper 4X4 from his youth on his desk.] When I was 10, I actually rebuilt this. I made the rollbar. The tonneau cover. A little Bigfoot style dual air cleaner thing, I made the push bar. I cut the bodies. The body mounting tabs, and then welded them in with my dad’s soldering gun, which he got really pissed about because I put molten plastic on the end of the soldering gun. 

I just took my model plastic stuff and made basically a lift kit, and extended the cab, and these tires were made out of Legos, and then I took the mounting tabs for the AA battery and soldered in this, which fits a 9-volt battery, now basically -- I’m on nitro. Compared to all my friends (cars) I had three times the ground clearance and ten times the horsepower.

MM: What were those cars called?

STROPE: Stompers.  You can go on the web and find all types of stuff.  Guys have collections you wouldn’t believe.

MM: So what was the first real car you ever owned?

STROPE: I owned a 1973 Olds Cutlass.  It was an awesome car, when I was 16. Bought it off my cousin.

MM: How long did you have that?

STROPE: I had that thing for a year or two.

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