Ace in the Hole

Spade Kreations may have hit high-roller status, but they'll still deal you in.

Every custom shop started with a modest foundation—typically spawning as a corner detail joint or rim spot feeding chrome to local riders. And while some remain content in maintaining local celebrity stature, others strive to become a household name; Spade Kreations is the latter. But just as they have reaped the benefits from time in the limelight, they have also paid the price.

Spade Kreations opened its doors a decade ago with a petty 1,000-square-foot facility but gradually positioned itself as the custom fabrication destination for those not on the left or right coasts. Originally featured in RIDES July/Aug ’06, Spade has made quantum leaps since then with its creation of one of the most recognizable big-wheeled custom cars in the world, the Phantom Donk; a build that garnered attention from virtually every media outlet known to man, commanding magazine covers (including its world debut on RIDES TK), Internet hype and even driving Cash Money’s Birdman to claim it as his own on MTV Cribs. The Phantom Donk, along with countless other overhauls—such as their ’64 Impala Roadster (RIDES July/Aug ’08), which received its own national attention at SEMA and other high-profile car shows—helped to increase Spade’s status and relevance in the automotive arena, as well as on the street.

But with the fame came misfortune. Although their budding status around the country helped them accumulate plenty of high-profile clients, the locals weren’t spending their greenbacks with Spade anymore. “People were almost intimidated to come to our shop for just wheels or a radio,” explains marketing director Ken Thornton. “But we do everything. If you want 18-inch rims, we do that; if you want to spend $300K, we can do that, too.”

Spade’s return-to-grassroots campaign, coupled with their SPADEMADE branding initiative, has heightened their status on the national scene but, more importantly, put them back on the boulevards of Cincinnati. Yeah, they may still be banging out Bentleys for Bengals, but don’t feel like you can’t follow suit. They’re customizing Cutlasses for local fame as well.