The adventure to Penguin Speed Shop

I once met a guy at a car gathering that… I met this cool dude at a car show who… Yes, some of the opening lines to our statements we may have used once-upon-a-time. We are all familiar with ‘knowing’ or having ‘met’ a guy who owns or does something really out of the ordinary. Someone who really pushes the boundaries in their own world, setting the pace in which people follow and look towards.

I relate to one of the lines above, as I do know someone in particular who makes a big impact for all the right reasons. John Wilcox, owner and front-man of Penguin Speed Shop, a hot rod shop located in Holywell, Wales. It all began back at the Meguiar’s invite only Breakfast Meet I attended last year. I got talking to John about an amazing creation he brought along, and if I can remember rightly, it won best of show. He even kindly gave me a Krispy Kreme doughnut from a box he won, amongst other show winning items.


It was 3.30am and my alarm went off, with me thinking ‘fucking hell it’s early’ but with the excitement inside of me, I woke instantly. Packed my stuff together and out the door I went, first to collect my lady and then venture up to Wales. Quite the trip, from Kent to Newbury to Holywell, so a quick break was needed and there was only one thing we really wanted… Starbucks.

DSC_7635-Web DSC_7641-Web

After a long period of driving, we were finally there! The sat-nav did however make us detour slightly on a few occasions, so I’ll blame Apple for that, cheers bro… I was very excited to see what projects and automobiles lurked inside.

DSC_7706-Web DSC_7710-Web

As soon as we headed towards the building, these amazing looking rides were sitting around. First impressions count right?

DSC_7671-Web DSC_7666-Web DSC_7700-Web

So we entered the garage life, where the magic happens and everything come alive. The first thing I saw was this epic 1958 Chevrolet Brookwod, just sitting there looking all smiley and grinning. Penguin Speed Shop’s memorable Gold colour looked on point and stood out lots. They recently sold it but I know it will go to a good home.

It takes a rather special owner to keep it in its glory.


I guess when you visit a place like this for the first time, it’s quite overwhelming by the quality and uniqueness. There were quite a few things to look at so I had to pace myself, otherwise I’d be running round loosing my mind over these gorgeous rides.

DSC_7689-Web DSC_7652-Web

I turned around and this beautiful Harley Davidson appeared out of nowhere. I have a big soft spot for these classic and vintage motorcycles, they’re just awesome. Everything about it looked great and it had so much character, from the paint, down to the leather seat and heat wrapped exhaust.


Caught the girlfriend looking around. I had my camera, so of course she wasn’t going to get away from it that easily!

DSC_7714-Web DSC_7732-Web

This 1949 Chevrolet Fleetline looked insane. Such an iconic face to the car, which lets you know it’s American to the bone. Complete show-stopper.

DSC_7737-Web DSC_7745-Web

There was a nice selection of different builds in this place, ranging from your bare shell restoration project to a full on show ready example, plus the other stuff in between. The diversity here was impressive, as everything was completely different from others, in their own way.

DSC_7739-Web DSC_7741-Web

John’s 1932 Ford Model B is rather special and super loud, just how hot rods should be, seen and heard! It has had tons of work, I guess too much to list, but here we go; Roof has been chopped 4.5 inches, pickup bed shortened, engine is a Chevy 350 small block with Stromburg 97 chrome carbs, 16 inch social wheels, customised 1940’s Ford dash with brown tuck and roll Italian leather, suspension is all in either stainless or chrome, front disc brakes with Buick finned covers.

That is just a real stripped down and basic list, it goes on and on…


A little penguin inside, just hanging around being cool. The interior is as impressive as the exterior, the attention to detail is everywhere on this project.

DSC_7747-Web DSC_7757-Web

So my absolute favourite build was the 1928 Ford Model A Extended Cab. I fell in love with this straight away, probably because of the extremely dark paintwork and how the lighting hits it. I spent so much time admiring and just taking in its good looks. It’s not every day you see something like this, on this impeccable level.


The paint is a custom mix of Black Pearl with Purple and really pops when exposed to light.

It is all steel with custom fabricated pickup bed sides, tops and stake beds. Again, the Chevy 350 small block engine comes into play, with a Hampton 6/71 polished supercharger running two 500cfm 4 barrel carbs. Wheels are 15 inch Smoothies with white-wall tyres and the interior is custom made, using in-house marine grade vinyl. Disc brakes up front and Ford rear drums.


This is where it gets very interesting. Currently, it’s approximately 500bhp and once run in and shaken down, with tweaking of boost, she’ll be looking at around 600bhp. Pretty insane right? This ticks every box for me and it’s obvious as to why.


Such a hardcore, bad ass vintage car, that’s also extremely pretty. I could of sat down and stared at this for hours.


After looking around outside and grabbing a pulled pork burger to eat, which was INSANE, we both went back inside and this very old but heavily customised Triumph stood there, right in front of me. Fate? Probably, as it was screaming for attention and for me to shoot it. This motorcycle had so much presence in the room and you could almost feel it.


I’ll let the photos do the talking this time…

DSC_7779-Web DSC_7789-Web

The two beauties together, both very different but at the same time, stemming back from the same roots. I bet they ride like a dream too.


Considering the long drive all morning, 400 miles so far (roughly), we were pretty damn tired and thought it would be best to get back to Birmingham, to our bed and crash for a while. Before we left, we kept seeing new vehicles turning up which was great! The day would of been busier had the weather played ball, but that’s what you get from being in the UK. Even so, it was a lovely relaxed vibe and I for one, really enjoyed myself, exploring the shop and getting creative.


I’ve wanted to visit and feature Penguin Speed Shop for some time now, because I know they do some crazy builds and they are ‘real’ enthusiasts, who have such kind hearts. Since knowing John, it has been refreshing to be exposed to someone, and a brand, who strive for the highest qualities and inject their passion and care into these projects. It’s not about money with these guys, it’s so much more than that. The vision, process, from start to finish and further more. The obsessiveness, raw talent, inspiration and thinking outside the box.

A true garage and workshop, with the safest of hands.


I’m so pleased I decided to travel to Wales. No doubt I’ll be back in time, with more exposure to these insane pieces of craft. Just wanted to give the guys at Penguin Speed Shop a huge thank you for being welcoming and to John for being an all round awesome guy.


So the drive back to Birmingham was pretty tiring, as I felt like I was on my last legs! We managed to get to the hotel safe and sound, ready to chill and hit up Edition38 the next day. The life of an automotive photographer right? Well, something like that I guess, but I loved every minute of it.

Until next time though…

Related Posts