Ivan Tampi's journey into the automotive world started with a passion for late-model import cars. In the late-'90s, the demand for aftermarket products for these vehicles was at an alltime high. New products like body kits, intakes, mufflers, and lighting accessories were getting a lot of attention from younger kids. Because the cars were modern, reliable, and easily customizable, there was a boom of kids toying with these low-budget but cool rides.

It was a new market that hadn't yet been capitalized on by aftermarket companies or the leading auto manufacturers. Since the bigger automotive chain stores did not sell these products or services, anyone who opened up a tuner shop was bound to make money. Ivan realized the potential of this type of business when his sister opened up her shop in Southern California. The money coming into her shop was good, and Ivan wanted some of it for himself.

Ivan wanted to follow in the footsteps of his sister by jumping into a business just like hers. However, they realized that Ivan would be in direct competition with her, and it wouldn't work for either of them. So, Ivan's sister made a suggestion that he go into the business of making body styling kits, and her shop could be the storefront to sell them at. It was a good idea, since only a handful of pioneering companies were making these stylish parts.

Without any previous experience, Ivan started creating his own body kits. Once he designed a few kits that he liked, he had molds made of them, and the kits were mass-produced for high-volume sales. The kits were made under the name Ground Design, and the proper patents were obtained to make sure that no one else could capitalize on his designs. Even though the proper steps were taken to prevent copycats, Ivan's kits were eventually ripped off. His first instinct was to pursue every company that he caught reproducing the products, but it just took up too much time and money for what it was worth.

Soon enough, Ground Design was not a profitable business, and Ivan had to make some decisions on what to do for income. The automotive world was very addicting, with constantly changing styles and big respect for major players in the scene. Ivan wanted to go big, and with his experience making styling kits, he knew he had a talent for customization. Ivan started to talk about his design work and met with a few Ford employees who handle special project builds.

The door was opened, and Ivan handed over some custom renderings of the Ford Focus. They were sold on Ivan's ideas, and he was on his way to building a Focus to display how a stock car could be personalized. The SEMA project was a success, and Ford wanted to see what he could do for the next show. For his second build, Ford gave Ivan this '04 F-150 to see what he could do with a truck.

Knowing that there is a plethora of wild and crazy-low trucks already out there, Ivan decided to go with a more high-end and practical way to customize it. The idea was to go with more of a classy Escalade look with some street flash, while keeping its appeal to the everyday driver. To do so, Ivan wanted to enhance the alreadystylish Ford truck with some of his own schemes buzzing around in his mind. The most challenging part of the whole deal was that it was a SEMA project, and Ivan had only two months to make his dreams become a reality.

The other dilemma was that his reputation was on the line, because not only did he have limited time to do the project, but it would premier at the show, along with the best of the best. Ivan had an abundance of confidence and started by designing a body kit to accentuate the lines of the exterior. He used his own process of using foam for shaping, fiberglass to make it solid, and body filler to smooth out all the imperfections.

The body kit production process was the longest of them all, but in between steps, Ivan was able to work on other parts of the buildup. This included the interior pieces that were sent out to get covered in carbon-fiber-textured black leather. At Ivan's shop, the truck got a 2/4 DJM lowering kit to bring it down over a new set of 24-inch wheels.

Since the F-150 was getting an aggressive street look, it was going to need some growl under the hood to back up the style. So, Ivan called up Vortech Superchargers for a power-boosting blower at one end of the motor, while a JBA exhaust let out the gases from the opposite end. As the Ford reached its final stages and the body kit was finished, the truck was taken to Auto Explosion, where it received a new covering of BASF Candy Blue paint.

When the truck made it back from the paint shop, all the final pieces were added as the date for the Las Vegas show closed in quickly. Before he knew it, Ivan was at the SEMA Show, debuting this truck for all to see what he had created with Ford's newest truck at the time. It was a success, and Ford was pleased to have this project showing how stylish its newly redesigned F-150 could be. From then on, Ivan knew what he could accomplish and is now in business to do the same for others. Although he started out with small dreams of success, Ivan Tampi has gone on to making it, big time.