Super Street - - Contents - WORDS Sam Du PHO­TOS Cade Gar­rett

What is it and why is it in this month’s Toy­ota is­sue? At one point in time, this or­ange-tubed con­trap­tion was a daily-driven ’06 Lexus IS350, be­fore owner and Chicago na­tive Con­nor Keough de­cided to drive it down to Alabama. There, start-up com­pany Krowrx trans­formed the once lux­ury sedan into its lat­est ex­oskele­ton car, adding to the shop’s port­fo­lio of stripped-down builds. Think they’re crazy? The ma­jor­ity of peo­ple seem to think so, and th­ese exo builds are stir­ring up more con­tro­versy than Trump’s lat­est tweet. But one thing is for cer­tain, the in­ter­est in ex­oskele­ton cars is grow­ing and peo­ple want to see and know more. In our Jan­uary ’18 is­sue, we broke our first story on a pair of cus­tom ex­oskele­tons from Krowrx, in par­tic­u­lar, a ve­hi­cle called the Xte­gra, based on a third-gen Acura In­te­gra. You ei­ther thought it was badass and looked fun as hell to drive, or you thought it was a death trap on wheels. I sat down with Krowrx co-founder JD Durham and posed some of the ques­tions that many key­board war­riors were rais­ing. He was more than happy to shed some light.

Su­per Street:

The ar­ti­cle on your Xte­gra re­ceived the most crit­i­cism we’ve seen in the his­tory of our mag­a­zine. Was it what you ex­pected?

JD: We never ex­pected to be in Su­per Street or any other mag­a­zine, re­ally. Hav­ing the op­por­tu­nity to be in a mag­a­zine was very ex­cit­ing. For all of the crit­i­cism, we didn’t re­ally think of it as a good or bad thing. Be­ing who I am and my per­son­al­ity, I look at ev­ery­thing that has or will be said as an op­por­tu­nity to bet­ter my­self and Krowrx.

Has there been any build in­quiries since our story? In­quiries have been non­stop! We have set up a fea­ture on our web­site to al­low our clien­tele to build their own cus­tom exo that meets their bud­get. We also of­fer to our clients a ba­sic ren­der of a cus­tom-built exo de­sign that is their own per­son­al­ity and style. Let’s talk about the Xte­gra … Lots of folks say­ing a front-wheel-drive exo made no sense.

The rea­son I built a front-wheel-drive exo is to show that you don’t have to have just rear-wheel drive for this type of build. Do not get me wrong, RWD is very fun, but so is FWD. My first exo builds were RWD: ’05 RX-8 with a 383 stro­ker and ’95 BMW 540i V-8, six-speed—both very fun and ex­cit­ing to drive. I wanted some­thing dif­fer­ent, so be­ing very fa­mil­iar with Hon­das, I chose an In­te­gra for my next build. I be­lieve that it all de­pends on what you are more com­fort­able driv­ing. With that be­ing said, I do not be­lieve it is sense­less to exo a FWD. But I’ve done both front and rear wheel and they are ab­so­lutely a blast!

Matt Farah of The Smok­ing Tire had a neg­a­tive re­view on the Xte­gra. What was your re­sponse to his video? Matt’s take made me laugh a lit­tle. Sev­eral rea­sons: a 6’4” guy driv­ing a cus­tom-built exo made for a 5’10” guy makes for a tight ride. I did not build the Xte­gra for any track pur­poses, specif­i­cally, just for my leisure. I also wear a full-face hel­met when I’m out and about. I build th­ese exos cus­tom to their own­ers and strate­gi­cally to their ideas of what they want. I have watched Matt’s video mul­ti­ple times, prob­a­bly as many times as he said “sketchy.” The Xte­gra has a B18B1 NON-VTEC engine. Hon­estly, I do not be­lieve he pushed the Xte­gra as hard as he could have, but he was wear­ing an opened-face hel­met at Road At­lanta, so I will give him some slack on not push­ing the car to its max. All in all, I love the feed­back from him.

We un­der­stand an exo ben­e­fits from less weight, but what about drag co­ef­fi­cient and lack of aero­dy­nam­ics? My builds can be mod­i­fied with aero­dy­namic pan­els at the cus­tomer’s ex­pense. De­pend­ing on the cus­tomer’s re­quest, we can build a full track car that would per­form bet­ter than a tra­di­tional exo and still be light­weight and aero­dy­namic. The open exo builds that we’ve done haven’t had any aero­dy­namic pan­el­ing so as a re­sult, they do tend to per­form poorly at higher speeds. For ex­am­ple, the Lexus IS350 starts to drag around 132 mph and the Xte­gra around 115 mph.

Thoughts on the con­cerns about safety?

Any per­son driv­ing an exo car, or any car/mo­tor­cy­cle for that mat­ter, has to have a sense of di­rec­tion and be aware of their sur­round­ings at all times. I do im­ply safety into th­ese builds. I want my clients to en­joy their builds and not worry about safety is­sues. That is why ev­ery build is built to each in­di­vid­ual.

Do you feel there’s such a thing as too much power in exo cars?

You wouldn’t need a high-horse­power build to have fun in an exo, but it would make the ex­pe­ri­ence more thrilling! Build­ing an exo with any amount of horse­power is taken in con­sid­er­a­tion when de­sign­ing the ’cage. In fact, I have a po­ten­tial 700hp A4 we are build­ing for a client as we speak, and en­gi­neer­ing it as if it had 1,000 hp.

Were there any proven track times in the Xte­gra or other exos?

So far, all of our cars have been for leisure only. The Xte­gra hasn’t ever been tested on a track; it was re­ally never built to col­lect data. I am up for the chal­lenge, though, if there is a per­son or shop out there that would want to build sim­i­lar cars and go head-to-head with an exo ver­sus non-exo. It would be very in­ter­est­ing to test in dif­fer­ent cat­e­gories such as Time At­tack, au­tocross, drag, and drift.

What would be your ul­ti­mate Krowrx build?

I don’t think there will be an ul­ti­mate Krowrx build. I love to build new and ex­cit­ing things, but I will be mov­ing onto a tube chas­sis de­sign of my own soon. I have a de­sign al­ready built in CAD. Now it’s just putting the 3-D ren­der into ac­tion. I am very ex­cited when it will be fi­nally fin­ished, but there will al­ways be ad­just­ments and up­grades to do. Then I can col­lect data to show the ben­e­fit of a Krowrx build!

This Lexus, it’s 300+hp, RWD, and uses an eight-speed au­to­matic. How did this build start?

The IS350 was a build that shows more of a struc­ture ’cage de­sign. The de­sign and look were a mix­ture be­tween my­self and the client, Con­nor Keough. When we orig­i­nally spoke, he had been us­ing the IS350 as a daily driver and he has al­ways wanted some­thing dif­fer­ent. Con­ner has owned that car for a while and told me, “I think it would be cool to do it out of my Lexus. I’m al­ready fa­mil­iar with my car and there isn’t re­ally more you can do to th­ese with­out spend­ing a ton of money for power.”

What were your over­all thoughts on how the IS turned out?

The Lexus is one of the fastest builds that I’ve done so far. I wouldn’t un­der­es­ti­mate the exo be­ing an eight-speed auto. It would kick the rear end out on the in­ter­state at 70 mph with no hes­i­ta­tion. Af­ter the com­ple­tion of Con­nor’s build, we loaded it and took it up to Chicago. On the way, we stopped off at a truck stop and mea­sured the fi­nal weight to be 2,283 pounds. We re­moved a li’l over 1,000 pounds! In my opin­ion, we un­locked the po­ten­tial the engine needed to show its true power.


Still not con­vinced about Krowrx? It’s not for ev­ery­body. The av­er­age Joe isn’t go­ing to have it in him to put on a full-face hel­met and get be­hind the wheel, not to men­tion hack­ing up his pro­ject car along with fork­ing out the $4,000 to $6,000 Krowrx is charg­ing for a com­plete build. We don’t ex­pect there to be hun­dreds of th­ese pop­ping up, but for the brave few like Con­nor, it’s ex­cit­ing to see the en­ve­lope be­ing pushed by the guys from Alabama. For my­self, I hon­estly can’t wait to test drive one. I know it’s go­ing to be fast, scary, and maybe a lit­tle dan­ger­ous, but the thrill seeker in me can’t wait. Stay tuned.

››There are some things re­tained on the Lexus that you wouldn’t ex­pect such as the trac­tion con­trol, fac­tory alarm, and emis­sions sys­tem.

››What was once an Acura In­te­gra, here's a look back at the Krowrx Xte­gra.

››The essence of an ex­oskele­ton car is that it’s been stripped of all un­nec­es­sary weight be­sides what’s needed to make the car drive and han­dle. The wheels are po­si­tioned out­side of the frame or uni­body, and its struc­ture is a cross be­tween a race car...

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