In the fast-paced world of the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), careers aren’t always financially rewarding, especially in the early 2000s. However, Brazilian lightweight sensation Fabiano Iha found an alternative path that not only ignited his passion but also proved to be highly lucrative after his time in the UFC’s cage.
A skilled ADCC medalist, Iha had his moment in the PRIDE ring back in 1999 when he faced off against Frank Trigg in the electrifying city of Tokyo. Hailing from Florianopolis, Brazil, Iha’s interests weren’t solely confined to fighting – he was a dedicated aficionado of fast cars. While still a young 18-year-old, and as he honed his jiu-jitsu skills under the tutelage of Crolin Gracie, Iha took a surprising step by purchasing a gas station and launching his very own car shop, specializing in enhancing street cars for exhilarating drag races.
After a detour to kickstart his MMA journey in the United States following a third-place finish in the ADCC tournament, Iha serendipitously encountered a car that would reshape his life trajectory. With a spark of enthusiasm, he began collecting cars for enjoyment. Starting with an old VW Kombi that he transformed into a camping vehicle, he found solace in the process of restoration. This became his personal therapy – hours spent lost in the world of car renovation with his trusty headphones on.
As his knack for car restoration became evident to onlookers on California’s streets, Iha began to attract attention and inquiries about his vehicles. This organic interest paved the way for his participation in car shows, where his trophy-winning cars – including a vibrant purple and white Kombi and a striking blue Mustang – turned into lucrative opportunities. The profits from these successful sales enabled Iha to continue acquiring and reviving more cars.
Transitioning from merely reselling cars, Iha ventured into the realm of car restoration, guided by his newfound passion. Amidst this journey, he stumbled upon a treasure: his first International Harvester Scout. The year was 1978, and the vehicle’s condition was relatively decent – a “6 out of 10,” he recalls. However, Iha’s dedication to perfection was unwavering.
Under his careful craftsmanship, the Scout underwent a remarkable transformation, with upgrades to its engine and suspension, including the integration of a robust 345ci V8 powertrain. The final result was nothing short of astounding, catching the eye of buyers at an auction where it was eventually sold for an impressive $61,500. This success was just the beginning; a red 1977 Scout, featuring a 350ci Chevrolet V8 engine and Iha’s meticulous restoration work, fetched a remarkable $84,000 in a subsequent auction. However, it was a beige and white 1972 Scout, boasting a Corvette engine (the powerful 6.0-Liter LS2 V8), that marked Iha’s ultimate triumph, selling for an astonishing $120,000 in March of 2023.
As Iha’s passion and skills in car restoration gained recognition, he and his team took a bold step by establishing the Scout Club in the vibrant city of Los Angeles. This was no longer just about turning old vehicles into valuable commodities; it was a testament to Iha’s commitment to preserving automotive history and injecting new life into forgotten gems.
In today’s MMA landscape, Iha might not be as familiar to the young generation of fans who have flocked to watch contemporary superstars like Conor McGregor and Ronda Rousey. Yet, Iha’s own MMA journey is nothing to scoff at, with a respectable record of 10 wins and 5 losses, including victories over notable opponents like Daiju Takase, Phil Johns, and LaVerne Clark. Having also battled it out against formidable opponents such as Din Thomas, Caol Uno, and Dave Menne within the octagon, Iha’s prowess is undeniable.
While his accomplishments in the fighting world are noteworthy, Iha’s heart truly beats for his love of restoring vehicles, particularly the iconic Scouts. As he continues to create masterpieces like the eye-catching 1973 orange Scout, complete with a powerful 5.3-liter Vortec V8 engine, his legacy grows stronger within the realm of car enthusiasts and beyond.
Iha’s latest creation, the aforementioned 1973 orange Scout, is currently up for auction on Bring A Trailer, inviting admirers and collectors alike to marvel at his transformative touch. The journey of Fabiano Iha, from the exhilarating chaos of the UFC cage to the meticulously crafted beauty of restored Scouts, stands as a testament to the power of following one’s passion, even when it leads down an unexpected and enriching road.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Restoration
Who is Fabiano Iha and what is his connection to the UFC?
Fabiano Iha is a Brazilian lightweight fighter who competed in the UFC and PRIDE. He had a notable MMA career, facing well-known opponents like Frank Trigg, Din Thomas, and Caol Uno.
How did Fabiano Iha transition from MMA to car restoration?
After his MMA career, Fabiano Iha discovered a passion for restoring cars, particularly iconic Scouts. He found solace and therapy in working on cars and eventually turned this passion into a profitable business.
What is the Scout Club that Fabiano Iha established?
The Scout Club is a venture started by Fabiano Iha and his team. It’s a hub for car enthusiasts, specializing in the restoration of classic Scouts. The club not only preserves automotive history but also offers a platform for showcasing their restored masterpieces.
What notable achievements has Fabiano Iha accomplished in car restoration?
Iha’s restoration work on Scouts garnered attention and impressive prices at auctions. Notable sales include a 1978 Scout with a 345ci V8 engine sold for $61,500 and a 1972 Scout with a Corvette engine that fetched a remarkable $120,000.
How does Fabiano Iha’s legacy continue in the car restoration world?
Despite his MMA background, Iha’s legacy has grown in the world of car enthusiasts. He continues to create stunning restorations like the 1973 orange Scout with a 5.3-liter Vortec V8 engine, leaving a lasting impact on the automotive community.