For almost 20 years now, I’ve been involved in some way, shape or form in the car industry. In that time, I’ve been mostly concerned with building show quality vehicles. I’m not sure exactly what it is about them, but I never really wanted a beater. For me, a custom car is finished top to bottom, paint and everything, and ready to be put on the floor at SEMA.Even after all the hard work though, I want to drive my cars as much as possible, which always makes me paranoid about getting a ding or a dent. Sometimes, it takes the pleasure out of driving them, which ultimately leads to me selling the ride and moving on to the next one.
Then I met Dino. A few years back, I was called by one of my editors and told to go shoot a piece on a guy who lived in Central Phoenix, and feature the many different trucks in his collection. At the time, he owned quite a few – six, I believe – mostly in the ’60-’66 C-10 era. He owned one show car, but the rest were just laid out trucks with reliable motors and big wheels. No fancy paint, no shaved handles or roll pans; just pure, simple, drivers. I asked Dino why he never really took his trucks to that next level, and his answer surprised me.
See, Dino lives a different lifestyle than most. His cars live in his backyard, which is also where his 100+ pound rottweiler spends most of his time. On more than one occasion, Dino would go out into the yard and find the dog sleeping on the hood or in the cab, leaving scratches and dents in his wake. Owning a show truck didn’t make sense for Dino, because he didn’t want to worry about an accident with a dog or a ding from a shopping cart. The main thing for Dino is that he owns a mechanically sound vehicle that runs and drives excellently, lays low, and that’s it. Forget the primered shell or the faded paint. For him, it’s about function.
This concept seemed foreign to me at the time, but after spending more time with Dino, I learned that it was just his way. Dino loves his trucks, but he doesn’t hang onto them for years at a time unless he really likes them. Instead, he buys them and flips them fairly quickly, but only once he’s gotten his fun with the vehicle out of his system. It made me see that I don’t need to spend thousands of dollars to have a cool truck, I just need to have something cool that I enjoy, and that’s ultimately all that matters.
Tonight, I went out and shot Dino’s latest creation, a 1953 Chevrolet 150. This gorgeous car sports the original inline six cylinder engine, stock faded paint and a redone interior. It’s mechanically sound, airbagged and rolling on 1949 Cadillac wheels. It’s not only fun to drive, but it’s fun just to look at, and gets tons of stares wherever it goes. For Dino, this car is just about perfect. Sure, he could buy a 350 and throw that under the hood, and yes, he could chop it and paint it with a heavy flake. But for him, this car is just fine as it sits and for now, he’ll drive it all day long.
This car, and people like Dino, are the reason I do what I do. It’s not always easy to find inspiration, and sometimes my job can be downright frustrating. But today, I found it in the faded patina of a 1953 Chevrolet.