Fathers Know Best
Hot rodding has always had an inter-generational component to it. Sure, some of the earliest hot rodders were likely rebelling against their parents, but in the decades since, countless car enthusiasts have been inspired by fathers who let us help in the garage, showed us how to change a spark plug or tune a carburetor, and taught us to drive. So many of our fathers instilled in us a love of cars and a knack for tackling automotive tasks.
Lucky are those whose fathers also took us to rod runs, let us hang out in the pits at drag races, or showed us how to modify cool cars. By passing along their passion, these fathers have kept the hot rodding flame burning for decades. As Father’s Day approaches, we wanted to celebrate those rodding dads, along with their children who have picked up the torch and run with it. We’ve highlighted a few of the multi-generation teams who have shaped and influenced the hot rodding world; we know there are countless more out there. Who are some of your favorites?
Gary and Marc Meadors
Gary Meadors grew up in California’s central valley and discovered a love of custom cars at young age. His first rod? A ’47 Plymouth at age 16. While working as a traveling deodorant salesman, Meadors dreamed of ways to have fun with cars, and in 1973 he started the Nor-Cal Early Iron Car Club; later he became a regional director for NSRA. In 1987 he launched the Goodguys Rod & Custom Association. The rest is history, as Goodguys became a wildly popular car-crazy, fun-filled organization putting on the best automotive events anywhere. Son Marc grew up in this petro-fueled environment. After college, he joined Goodguys and by 2007 had worked his way up to President. Gary passed away in 2015, but the organization has continued to thrive under Marc’s leadership.
Vic Edelbrock and Vic Jr.
A native of Kansas during the dustbowl era, Vic Edelbrock Sr. moved to Southern California to start an auto repair business. He soon began experimenting with intake systems for Flathead Fords, even before WW2. After the war, he continued to develop components for lakes and salt-flat racers. After the first Edelbrock catalog appeared in 1946, the company boomed into perhaps the most recognizable brand in hot rodding. Following Vic Sr.’s untimely death at age 42. Vic Jr. took the keys and continued his company’s success, becoming a hot rod legend in his own right. The Edelbrock brand is as prominent today as ever.
Andy and Roy Brizio and Terri Brizio Hollenbeck
Born in 1932 in San Francisco, Andy Brizio caught the hot rod bug in high school. He was a regular at Half Moon Bay dragstrip, sometimes acting as starter; he once dropped the green on Don Garlits. He opened his own shop in the early 1960s and his first product was the “Instant T” roadster kit. In 1970, Andy drove his wildly painted Model T C-cab to the first Street Rod Nats. His son Roy grew up in the shop, absorbing his father’s skill set; daughter Terri was equally immersed in the rodding industry. Today, Roy is acknowledged as one of the industry’s premier builders; rock stars are particularly fond of Roy’s talents, including Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck and Neil Young. Terri, meanwhile, helps to oversee one of the country’s top hot rod paint shops, her husband Darryl Hollenbeck’s Vintage Color Studio.
Sam and Chip Foose
Sometimes the son becomes better known than his father – but Sam’s career paved the way for Chip. Born in 1934 in L.A., Sam parlayed junior high school shop classes into impressive skills as a metal man. He first worked at AMT creating full-size hot rods as inspiration for model kits. In 1970, he opened Project Designs in Santa Barbara, where his most famous build was a 1949 Ford coupe, done with designer Harry Bradley. Chip was schooled informally by his father and formally at Art Center College of Design (plus a stint with Boyd Coddington). His catalog of standout cars includes seven AMBR winners! He’s also the host of the popular TV show Overhaulin’.
Neal Gerber and Sons
Jeremy Gerber started as a young employee at the Roadster Shop in Mundelein, Illinois, learning the craft of hot rod building. When the shop owner was diagnosed with cancer in 2004, Gerber teamed up with his brother, Phil, and father, Neal, to purchase the business. Under the Gerber family’s guidance – aided by father Neal’s previous experience running and growing his family’s collision and glass shops – Roadster Shop has grown exponentially in size, scope, and influence, expanding its chassis offerings to include muscle cars, Tri-Five Chevys, and classic trucks. Stunning cars are the shop’s calling cards, like the breathtaking “Inferno” ’69 Camaro that earned the 2017 Goodguys Street Machine of the Year award. Sadly, father Neal Gerber lost his brave battle with cancer recently, but Phil and Jeremy are well equipped to carry on the family legacy.
Bill Smith and Sons
Known as “Speedy Bill, ” D. William Smith lived up to his nickname. He successfully raced motorcycles, midgets and sprint cars. But he ultimately realized he was a better at business, so in 1952 he founded Speedway Motors, converting a small soda pop stand in his hometown of Lincoln Nebraska, into what is today one of the largest performance mail-order and online businesses in the world. Speedway Motors is entirely family run, with sons Carson, Craig, Clay, and Jason continuing to oversee the day-to-day operation of the business since Smith’s passing in 2014 at age 84. You might even find Carson at an occasional Goodguys event helping Team Speedway compete on the AutoCross track.
Jack and Troy Trepanier
Jack Trepanier was an Air Force mechanic who worked at Continental Airlines before he started his own general auto repair shop in Manteno, Illinois. A fan of stock cars and drag racing, he imparted this interest in son Troy, as did Troy’s grandfather John, a welder by trade who gave Troy his first car, a ’66 Chevelle. The youngster tricked it out best he could – then he built a ’60 Chevy Impala – “Pro Box,” he called it – which earned Hot Rod magazine’s Car of the Year title. Yes, Troy had talent, and started Rad Rods by Troy with his father, Jack. Troy’s rides have won major awards from Goodguys, HRM, and the 2014 AMBR.
Pat and Bill Ganahl
One of hot rodding’s most accomplished writers and historians, Pat Ganahl has authored more than 20 books and been the editor of Hot Rod, Street Rodder, Rod & Custom, and The Rodder’s Journal – a resume few journalists can match. Two of his most acclaimed books are biographies of customizer Ed “Big Daddy” Roth and pinstriping legend Von Dutch. Moreover, his auto acumen trickled down to his son. After a college run aimed at being a literature professor, Bill Ganahl eschewed the ivy halls for hot rod building. He parlayed an initial gig as shop go-fer with Roy Brizio into being full-blown, multi-talented car crafter. Today, he runs his own successful shop, South City Rod & Custom, turning out tasteful and well-crafted rods and customs.
Steve Moal and Sons
The name Steve Moal is synonymous with masterful metal shaping and car restoration. His talent harkens back to the European coachbuilders of yesteryear. In fact, Steve’s grandfather was a skilled wheelwright who emigrated from France in the early 1900s, and his father ran a body and fender repair shop. Steve came of age in the 1950s and ’60s and became smitten with hot rod culture. As Moal Coachbuilders thrived, his sons joined in the fun. Michael and David grew up around the business and learned the craft. David even abandoned an engineering degree and a job in high tech to join his father. The result? Some of the finest cars in hot rod history.
Art and Craig Morrison
Art Morrison Enterprises Inc. got its start as a full-service drag-race chassis building shop in 1971; Morrison-crafted cars set many records in NHRA’s Competition Eliminator class. The company expanded into mail order n 1983, as drag racing popularity boomed. By 1985 Art Morrison Enterprises was a NHRA sponsor. The company has continued to thrive, entering the hot rod and muscle car realm with custom suspensions and both production and custom-tailored chassis. Another factor in the company’s success? Son Craig Morrison, who brought his college business degree smarts to AME, handling marketing and new product development.
Jesse and Jeff Greening
Jeff Greening and son Jesse started building cars professionally in 1999. Based in Culman, Alabama, the dynamic father-and-son team produce two to three full builds a year, along with providing custom machining services at Greening Auto Company. Amazingly, their first complete car, a 1933 Ford Speedstar coupe, won the 2000 Ridler Award. They are committed to a style that melds a sense of cleanliness with attention to detail. This approach has yielded multiple awards from Goodguys, NSRA, and GM, plus a handful of magazine covers — Street Rodder, Super Rod, Street Rod Builder and Custom Rodder. Jesse earned the Goodguys Trendsetter Award in 2006.
James Grundy Sr., Jr. and Children
In 1947, James A. Grundy, Sr. used veterans benefits after World War II to create the James A. Grundy Agency, Inc. or Grundy Insurance as we all know it — which pioneered the concept of Agreed Value Insurance policies. When Jim Sr. entered the collector business, he never anticipated the future that classic cars would have on our society. Son James Jr. resisted joining the agency following college; he raced sailboats and worked in a relative’s steel factory instead. Once he joined, he worked up from salesman to marketing. He helped the agency grow — today it boasts 1,000,000 policyholders and over 3,000,000 insured vehicles. Junior’s three children, Josh, Sam and Gwen, all work at the agency as well.
Jerry Kugel and Children
One could argue Jerry Kugel changed the face, or at least the underpinnings, of the hot rod aftermarket, for Kugel popularized independent suspension components for street rods. Born in Chicago, the family moved to LA after WWII – meaning Jerry grew up around the postwar California car boom. Hot rods drew his attention during his teen years – and he a has pursued that passion evens since. His suspension designs revolutionized the industry, and his interest in Bonneville has changed the record books, as well. Because of Jerry’s passion, Kugel Komponents has grown steadily, in part because it’s a family affair, with children Jeff, Joe, and Jerilyn all playing a key role in the business.
Richard Griot and sons Nick and Alex
After the typical car-crazed teen years – painting three cars, nearly pulling down the garage from the rafters hoisting an engine, and performing countless brake jobs and tune-ups – Richard Griot wanted his cars to look sharp, too. But he found car care products wanting. So, he started Griot’s Garage in his home garage in 1988. The first Griot’s catalog appeared in 1990, introducing the first padded lay-down creeper, non-lifting floor paint, quality car care, and unique tools and garage gear. Today, Griot’s dominates the car care aftermarket, in no small part due to the contribution of two of Richard’s four children, Nick and Alex who both joined the family business. Nick heads up the VP of Marketing role while Alex runs the Griots Motors shop.
Boyd Coddington and Sons
Born in 1944, Boyd Coddington grew up in tiny Rupert, Idaho. At age 13, he traded a shotgun for a 1940 Ford. After machinist trade school, he moved to L.A. at age 24 and opened his own shop. His fame began with a ’33 Ford coupe for Vern Luce, which debuted Boyd’s smooth, minimalist look, accented by components whittled from billet aluminum. Another gem: the stunning 1949 Cadillac – CadZZilla – built for Billy Gibbons of ZZ Top. Boyd would earn seven AMBR trophies. He passed away in 2008 at age 68, but his three sons – Gregg, Chris and Boyd Jr. – have all worked to sustain their father’s legacy, with hot-rod related businesses of their own, including offering wheels and car design and construction.
Chris Alston and Children
For more than three decades Chris Alston Sr., a self-taught welder and former racer, has been creating top-quality components for street and drag race chassis applications. Alston developed the first door-slammer chassis kits in the mid-1970s, primarily for drag racing. Since then, Chassisworks has refined its installer-friendly chassis kits – one reason why the NHRA has bestowed its Best Engineered Award to Alston many times. Chassisworks is a true family affair, with son Chris Jr. running the machine shop, Alston’s daughter Stephanie Collins on board, and three grandchildren employed there, too!
Marcel De Ley and Sons
Acknowledged as one his generation’s finest metalsmen, Marcel De Ley — who passed away last year at age 89 — was a throwback artist, relying exclusively on an English wheel and hammers to create everything from Ferraris to Deuce roadster bodies. A native of Belgium, he learned his craft at 14 during WWII building bodies for military trucks. In the late 1950s, a G.I. spotted a car De Ley had built for himself and convinced him to move to America. Stateside, De Ley’s career flourished. He eventually built countless customs and classics, plus performed hot rod work for Boyd Coddington, Chip Foose, Roy Brizio, Jerry Kugel, Rick Dore, and many more. Along way he was helped by his sons Luc and Marc. Luc keeps his father’s business and legacy alive today.
Mike and Talbert Goldman
When Mike Goldman sold off his trucking business in 1990 to pursue building hot rods full time, he didn’t realize he had a secret weapon running around the shop: 4-year-old Talbert Goldman. Few father-son hot rod tandems forged a partnership at so young an age. Talbert learned to weld at age seven. He started worked at the shop during high school and joined the business full time after graduation. Since then, Mike Goldman Customs has created some of hot rodding’s finest rides, including the Goodguys 2014 Truck of the Year-Late and Goodguys 2015 Street Machine of the Year. And in 2018, Talbert was named Goodguys Trendsetter at the SEMA Show.
Tom and Gary Medley
An original staffer at Hot Rod magazine (February 1948), Tom Medley was instrumental in popularizing hot rodding post-WWII. Titled “humor editor,” he created the Stroker McGurk cartoon character and photographed dozens of HRM covers, events and features. Later as publisher of Rod & Custom, he kicked off the modern street rod movement by founding the first Street Rod Nationals in 1970. He passed away in 2014 at age 93. His son, Gary, has worked in the industry, as well, as editor of StreetScene, a Car Craft staffer, publicist for Goodguys events, Indy car event PR director, and columnist for the Goodguys Gazette.
Gabe Lopez and Sons
Gabe Lopez opened Gabe’s Custom Interiors in October of 1994 in Bloomington, California, and since then has been one of the go-to upholsterers for elite hot rodding builders. Gabe’s client list reads like a who’s who in rodding — Boyd Coddington, Chip Foose, So-Cal Speed Shop, Squeeg’s Kustoms, Barry White, and more. Awards? Oh, just four AMBR awards and a Ridler Award. It’s a true family business, with sons Gabe Jr., Jesus, and Adrian, all accomplished trimmers, too.