At long last, fall is finally in the air. The leaves are turning, and pumpkin spice everything is the flavor du jour. More importantly, football is back. The NASCAR playoffs are ramping up. And the only thing on every shop owner’s mind is to watch the calendar pages drop until the last week of October. We’re extremely excited for SEMA 2018—and we know you are, too. As for Joel Smith, owner and operator of Auto Definitions in Claremore, Oklahoma—he and his team are ready to perform at their best for SEMA. Like, they’re really ready. And based on the amazing builds these Sooner State fellas have been bringing to the table lately, we are waiting with baited breath to see what they’ve got up their sleeves.
A Proud Past and a Bright Future
Auto Definitions has been around for 26 successful years, with Smith at the helm since the summer of 2017. It is a business built almost completely on word-of-mouth referrals. The wait list just to get a ride in the shop is two weeks long year-round. These guys do their jobs with care, an effort that is reflected in the sheer volume of business they handle. “We just want to show everyone what our passion is, and help people,” said Smith.
Auto Definitions will have the distinguished opportunity to build and show a 2019 RAM 1500 at the 2018 SEMA Show—a coveted honor, indeed. And while the specifics of that build are still very much under wraps, one need not look any further than their efforts at this year’s Keystone BIG Show to know that this crew is dead set on bringing their A-game.
We’ll have plenty more to share about Smith and his gang of young hotshots in the very near future through a proper shop profile, but let’s get the basics out of the way to provide readers with a little perspective. He’s a third generation motor man, with a staff of guys all under 30. And they are, quite frankly, taking this industry by storm. There are even whispers of a reality TV show following the adventures of this hard-working, fun-loving work family. But for now, suffice it to say that Auto Definitions takes pride in its work, the staff loves what it does day in and day out, and they have a blast together in the shop. Judging by their recent work, that is plain to see.
Making a Splash at the BIG Show
At the Keystone Automotive Big Show earlier this year, Auto Definitions gave us a glimpse at what they’re capable of accomplishing. With three vehicles featured (a rare occurrence), they announced their presence on a national stage and received a thunderously positive response.
Having two Jeeps in the BIG Show is exciting enough, an honor that most never get to experience. And with both Jeep builds, they knocked it out of the park. A JK was front and center at the Iron Cross Automotive booth, with the company’s fender flares, stubby bumper, rear tire carrier stubby, 37×12.50×17 MAXXIS RAZR tires, and a 4” short arm lift.
The other, a 2014 Jeep JKU for the Maxxis booth, started out as a stock JKU Sahara. “We added Rubicon axles with artec trusses, Rugged Ridge diff covers, a 6” short arm lift with Fox Shocks, and 40×13.50×17 MAXXIS RAZR M/T tires. There was a custom cut-out with true 32-bolt bead locks and welded rings, as well as an Iron Cross Automotive front stubby bumper and rear tire carrier. We threw on Smittybilt flat fenders and a rock slider frame with TrailFX tube doors and a 9,500 lb. WARN winch,” added Smith.
A Build That Can Walk the Walk
Yet perhaps the most exciting build from Auto Definitions so far this year is a 2016 RAM 2500. Purchased brand new from a dealership by a friend of Smith’s, the only preexisting modification was a 6″ lift. Needless to say, Smith and his team of wunderkinds took things much farther than that. Too many modifications to name them all, Auto Definitions modestly covered the basics.
“It had a lift kit on it, but we changed it all,” Smith told us. “Everything is custom painted and powder-coated.” And he couldn’t be happier with what this rig is riding on. “These Mickey Thompson wheels [20×12 with a -44 offset] are very impressive. I’ve been a die-hard Mickey Thompson fan and always run them in Jeeps and rock crawlers.”
The wheels are wrapped in MAXXIS RAZR tires. An ADD Honey Badger bumper was initially installed, but then replaced with a Stealth model. They added a Fabtech dual-steering stabilizer, a brand that Smith can’t say enough about.
“I love Fabtech products,” he confided. “They have a really good price point and they stand behind their products. For the everyday guy, Fabtech is a great option. And it’s not going to break the bank.”
One of the finest features of this build is its ability to do actual work. The Auto Definitions gang isn’t afraid to take it out of the showroom and get ‘er done. “This thing will leave here and hook up to a 30 foot dovetail gooseneck with those two Jeeps behind it,” Smith gushed. “And it can haul ‘em to the rocks. It works almost every day.” They use it for everyday tasks such as towing in customer rides that have broken down. It’s a true shop build, a genuine workhorse, and a real show piece that was deserving of being front and center at the Keystone BIG Show.
All Eyes on SEMA 2018
So now, with the seasons changing and the clock winding down, Smith and Auto Definitions have deliberate tunnel vision. Apart from the day-to-day madness at the shop in Oklahoma, SEMA 2018 is the only thing on their minds. That 2019 Dodge they’ll be showing is being worked on around the clock. Its modifications and upgrades are being kept shrouded in secrecy. But for this little shop that is quickly gaining nationwide recognition, the unveiling can’t come fast enough.
No matter what their feature build ends up looking like, we can rest assured about a few things. It will look amazing. It won’t just be some pavement-princess eye candy. These guys pride themselves on building things that can look good, work hard, and play harder. And finally, we can guarantee that Smith and his crew will put their personal stamp on this highly-anticipated project build. With all they are capable of, that is by far the most exciting part.