By Craig Weston
Photo Credits to Kelsey Livingston Photography
On the heels of his last three widely-successful Can-Am builds, The Adrenaline, Hot Wheels, and The Cortez, Craig Weston, aka “THE THRILL BILLY” decided to change it up, and tackle Can-Am’s newest side by side off-road platform, the Maverick X3.
When the Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada man set out to customize his 2018 Can-Am Maverick X3, he wanted to create something that would turn heads. “I wanted to take Can-Am’s newest platform, and do something with it that would really pop, and be in a class of its own,” he said. “There are lots of built machines out there, but not with the Thrill Billy touch.”
To say the machine stands out is an understatement.
Now black, manta green, and metallic blueberry, with custom graphics, the “Thrill Billy SwitchBack” machine is virtually unrecognizable from the black and white stock model he purchased several months ago.
“I worked on it all winter, till the sun comes back out,” Weston says with a laugh.
Modifications to the machine are extensive, including custom exotic powder coating, all professionally done by himself in his own shop, Thrill Billy Powder Coating, custom designed full body wrap, handmade roof plating, custom wheels, and a DynoJet Power Vision ECU reflash system, for fine tuning the 3-cylinder turbo engines’ power.
It’s his tenth custom build –the fourth on a Can-Am machine – and by far his favorite. “This was an awesome project to do, nothing like letting your imagination run wild on Can-Am’s newest, highest HP platform”
Although his custom builds eat up almost every spare moment he has (he estimates this latest project took 200-plus hours to complete), Weston loves the challenge of taking a stock vehicle and altering it. A handy guy already, designing and building Thrill Billy Powder Coating- customization gives him another outlet for his creativity.
“There are many builders out there that will take a machine and put parts on it,” he says. “But that’s not what I’m interested in. I want something custom, something that you just don’t see, lots of color, crazy looking designs, that will turn heads and break hearts.”
The desire to stand out drives Weston to think way outside the box with his mods. “I built and designed my Powder Coating outfit with the goal of wild custom machines in mind. How many builders out there have their very own powder system?”
Weston credits his father, who has built a number of custom motorized vehicles, with modeling a hands-on, work-it-out approach to building and fixing things and grinding away till he gets it right. Craig, 42, maintains that work-it-out mindset when bringing his vision for a machine to life. For example, he will start laying down powder, and if it doesn’t look just right, he will spend the money to start over, to get the look perfect.
“I just keep on doing it until it looks like the vision in my head,” he said. “I don’t care how long it takes; perfection takes time.”
There’s nothing Weston loves more than seeing positive results from the time and effort he invests. With three highly successful builds behind his belt, such as “The Thrill Billy Cortez Renegade,” Weston has gained a long list of company build sponsors. 16 to be exact.
“To build a machine like this takes many people and great products to be involved. I selected the sponsors based on what they could contribute to meeting my vision of the build. When I achieve a good outcome on a project it drives me to keep coming up with new fresh ideas for future projects,” he said. “I want to create builds that are head turning, that people can’t believe.”
One of Weston’s favorite mods to the Can-Am unit is the S&B Powered Particle Seperator system. “We ride in the Rocky Mountains, where the dust can be extreme, its great piece of mind to know that my engine is not sucking in a ton of dust past the filter” The S&B Particle Seperator works very well, removing up to 94% of airborne dust particles before reaching the intake air filter.
A close second on the list is the custom graphics kit. With the help of Patrick Holmes, from Pro-Touch Engraving and Signage, the graphics compliment the machine nicely and align well with the theme of the project. “Mountain riding is our thing, so I wanted a custom designed graphics setup to fit the SwitchBack’s look and feel”
Rounding out Weston’s top three favorite mods is the powder coating he produced in his own shop. “the manta green and metallic blueberry together look very impressive, it’s something that I’ve never seen on an off-road build”
To achieve it, Weston actually built his own full-service powder coating system which allowed him to custom coat all pieces right in his shop. The project was extremely labor intensive as he took the machine apart to powder coat everything from the custom checkered aluminum plating he cut, right down to the winch.
“I focus on really high detail,” he says. “I’ve seen lots of custom-built machines and I like to take it a step further, right down to having custom nuts and bolts.”
While Weston is enjoying his one-of-a-kind X3, he’s already planning his next custom build.
“The Maverick X3 is the leading platform in the SXS off-road world, very customizable, seemingly endless parts available, and high engine HP capabilities, making it the ideal unit to expand on”
UTV CANADA INC
MADD MACK MOTORSPORTS
MILE MARKER WINCH
PRO-TOUCH ENGRAVING AND SIGNAGE
RJWC EXHAUST SYSTEMS
ATV TIRES CANADA
PERFORMANCE FABRICATION AND MACHINING LLC
THRILL BILLY POWDER COATING
By Craig Weston
Photo Credits to Kelsey Livingston Photography.