Dowtown Escondido Magazine - The Art of Restoring Classic Cars.

When thinking of great works of art, customized classic cars may not be the first thing to come to mind but restoring a classic car is more than just rebuilding the engine and slapping on some paint. For starters, pretty much everything on a classic car has to be refurbished, replaced, redesigned or re-something. Then the detail work is far more detailed and time consuming than it would normally be. And finally the paint is worked and buffed until it looks like glass.

The whole process starts when someone finds an old car with some potential. And potential just means that some vision exists in the owners mind. Hot Rods and Custom Stuff in Escondido is a one stop shop for rebuilding and customizing a car. Randy Clark, the owner, explained the process a bit. It starts with the car being completely taken apart. Every piece is inspected and inventoried. That's every piece right down to every last hinge and up through every engine component. When the car is completely apart, every piece is evaluated and it is determined whether or not that piece can be used. If the piece can be used again it is prepped by blasting. Blasting is a process that removes everything from the part including any rust and all the paint. Blasting also allows the part to be inspected more closely for cracks or anything else that may need repair. Once that is done work begins on ordering parts that need replacing and building the pieces that will be customized.

The design of the car is discussed with the owner. Research is done to determine the style of the car; the colors, the upholstery design, the detailing from when it was originally made. Generally, people restoring a classic car want the look that the car had when it was first created but they want all the comforts and performance advancements that have been introduced in cars since then. Visually the car is old as the hills but underneath it is state of the art. Everything mechanical on the car is new; the engine, the transmission, the brakes, the steering systems, the air conditioning, the heating, power windows and so on.

Then the customizing comes in. The dash is actually redesigned to accommodate those things that weren't available when the car was first made. If there is not room on the dash in the original style adjustments are made. One car had the radio installed in the glove box. That keeps the new radio hidden which upholds the illusion of the car being like it was from the word go. Throw in a couple of hide away cup holders for another fun update. The upholstery is made custom as well and the material on the dash and the interior of the doors are all made to match the color scheme.

One of the most important details is the paint. Roger Stroyer, manager of the body shop at Henson and Sons in Escondido, has decades of experience working with auto body repair and painting. Roger explained that once a color scheme is selected, every part of the body of the car is painted to match. The interior of door frames and hinges inside the body of the car as well as, of course the outside. Roger also explained that the actual paint is slightly different. Usually paint has an "orange peel" texture. To prevent that, the paint is cut with sandpaper to smooth it more. And then hours are spent buffing the paint until it shines like glass. That's the paint reflections can be seen in, making it "show quality" paint.

At Hot Rods and Custom Stuff, the doors are removed to be painted inside and out. Randy explained that research is done to get the original paint formula for the car. Then paint is ordered from a company that can translate the out of date paint formula to a current one that will have the car be the same color as the day it was born. Another thing that gets done right around the same time as the painting is the insulation. A product called Lizard Skin is applied to the interior of the car and the interior of the door panels for heat and noise reduction.

Another very important detail is all the chrome work. The chrome pieces are inspected during the break down of the car and most are re-chromed during the process. After body work and before paint the chrome pieces are checked again to make sure everything will fit like a glove after paint.

Once all of that is complete the car just has to be reassembled. Then it's the fun-loving, high performance, full of creature comforts like a car of today but it looks like a blast from the past. And if that's not art, what is?


Roger Stroyer is a manager at Henson and Sons body shop in Escondido. Take a look at the website or give them a call at (760) 743-5363.

Randy Clark is the owner of Hot Rods and Custom Stuff in Escondido. The website there is www.hotrodscustomstuff. com where there are pictures of quite a few of the cars that have been rebuilt. See the before pictures, every step that is taken to refurbish the car and the amazing after pictures of the most beautiful cars ever. Or give them a call at (760) 745-1170.

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Hot Rods & Custom Stuff, 2324 Auto Park Way, Escondido, CA., 1-800-HOT-ROD-5.
Hot Rods & Custom Stuff - builds, restores, paints, services and sells parts for classic autos, cars, trucks and street rods.