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Original Gangster--Mobsteel creates a set of wheels any modern wise guy will love

Rafay Ansar


If you squint just right, you can see them spilling from the vehicle, trench coats tied tight and fedoras tipped low over their eyes, tommy guns held not so discreetly at their sides as they quickly step away from the splaying suicide doors and disappear into an inky, rain-soaked night. Gangsters, old-school, on a job. This is their ride, and not just for all the badges that read “Mobsteel.”

Blink. The fedoras make way for bandanas and knit caps, the trench coats for black T-shirts and grease-stained jeans slung loose and low, the tommy guns for tattooed arms crossed tightly across chests. As you check out their ride, their eyes stay glued on you.

Except for Adam’s. The owner and founder of Mobsteel, in Brighton, Mich., Adam Genei has an affability that belies his ruffian image, and he talks easily about his latest creation, the Mobsteel Flex, while his crew quietly hangs back, watching.

The stock Ford Flex “is a little more realistic for middle America; it’s no Porsche Cayenne. But it’s still a girl’s car,” says Genei, smiling. “It has to have some sort of toughness for me to want to drive it.”

The Flex lends itself to a lot of toughening up, with its naturally strong lines and square stance and proportions that tend toward the long and lean. Genei started by dressing up his SEMA show car in Mobsteel’s trademark all-black palette.

The triple-black treatment is at once understated and graphic, a simple, declarative sentence punctuated thrice: a glossy jet-black body and a flat hot-rod-black roof, courtesy of SEM Products’ Color Horizons, with a full black leather interior, custom-stitched by C&S Stitch Works.

A one-off Mobsteel front fascia replaces the stock, with a blacked-out mesh grille filling out the maw where the Flex’s original triple chrome bars once lay. The headlight buckets have been blacked out, too, and a glance at the back end reveals a similar treatment: customized rear fascia and blackened taillight housings.

The flanks still boast the original strakes, but the door handles have been shaved, the better to disguise the fact that the back doors now open rearward. A pair of enormous billet hinges, custom pieces from Street Dreams by Ross measuring every bit of six inches across, allow the back doors to open extra wide.

The body sits low over its custom Mobsteel wheels--24-inchers painted the same flat black as the roof and closely wrapped in Pirelli 255/30Z P Zero Nero tires--lower even than a slammed stock model would, given the additional steel welded to the Flex’s skirt all around. It gives the vehicle a stance as menacing as that of any of the sleds for which Mobsteel typically is known, such as the Heavy Hitter, sitting across the garage, an all-black 1968 Lincoln Continental hardtop that almost scrapes the asphalt.

The Mobsteel Flex doesn’t look driveable but for a full hydraulic suspension that lifts the body up off the wheels to give the rubber some turning clearance, with adjustable

Air Runner custom front struts and Low Rider Depot air-management components.

The heart of the 2009 Ford Flex remains largely untouched, with the powertrain--a 3.5-liter Duratech V6 tied to a six-speed automatic--getting little alteration but for a Magnaflow cat-back exhaust that peeks out from the bumper through a pair of siamesed tips.

Inside, there’s little of the flashy stuff seen on the typical SEMA show car, the Mobsteel guys instead opting for the same minimalist look as on the exterior. Some of the trimwork has been replaced, with detailed pieces stretching across the dash in a black-over-silver perforated pattern by VC Finishes. Scosche Industries supplied a custom stereo center stack, and the backs of the front headrests house Invision monitors, each with its own built-in DVD player.

From the sheer decibels cranked out by the Rockford Fosgate system, you’d expect

to see an interior stuffed full of speakers, on display in every nook and on every sur-face, as with so many SEMA vehicles. Instead, the Mobsteel guys have hidden most of the 18 tweeters, woofers and subwoofers discreetly behind panels in the doors or behind the seats, all the better to maintain the vehicle’s unmolested simplicity. Only a bead of red piping stands out against the pitch-darkness inside.

“At the end of the day, when I go home,” says Genei, “I want to look out my window and see only black cars sitting in my driveway.”

That’s just as it should be with a modern-day mobster.
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