Troy Ladd’s Hollywood Hot Rods – Respecting Tradition
Since 2002, Troy Ladd’s Hollywood Hot Rods has been the epicenter of both traditional and trendsetting builds. With humble beginnings, this award-winning hot rod emporium is now internationally known.
Most people get started in this crazy business and hobby of ours through their dad who was into it and gave their kids little choice, dragging them along to car shows or races. But Ladd took a different path before falling under the spell. He studied business and obtained a Bachelor’s degree from Vanguard University in Costa Mesa, California. He built cars in his spare time, hated his white-collar corporate job and so in 2002 took the plunge and opened his own shop in “Beautiful Downtown Burbank”, as they used to say on TV.
Naming it Hollywood Hot Rods was all part of Troy’s big plan as he knew that selling T-shirts and other merchandise with the word Hollywood in there was a ‘no brainer’. And, he was right. His shirts were the number one selling brand in the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles.
The first home of Hollywood Hot Rods in Burbank had an unassuming facade located on a small street that ended at Interstate 5. Unfortunately, that building, like so much of Los Angeles is slated for redevelopment and Troy spent the last couple of years looking for a suitable building to buy. Eventually he found a 4,300 square foot location not too far from his old shop at 2617 N. San Fernando Boulevard, Burbank.
Let’s back up though. Troy first came to the public’s attention when he won the 2005 Goodguys “Rodder’s RepPick” with “Big Sister” – a ’32 Ford built on the Rides TV show. Two years later he was a finalist in the Grand National Roadster Show’s American Most Beautiful Roadster (AMBR) competition with “Respect Tradition”, – a Hemi-powered Deuce Roadster. The copper lowboy went on to win the “Deuce Doins” award at the Goodguys Del Mar Nationals. That was followed by the “Outstanding Elegance Award” at Blackie Gejeian’s invite-only Fresno Autorama. That year also saw Goodguys bestow him with their “Trendsetter” Award at the SEMA Show.
That somewhat untraditional traditional roadster was followed by a string of projects that just continued to enhance the reputation of his shop. One that garnered attention was actually a full-size rendition of what had previously only been a plastic model kit: The “Black Widow” roadster pickup. Several more roadster pickups (rpu) followed including the road-race inspired, Ardun-powered “El Correcaminos” (Spanish for The Roadrunner) and the stack-injected, Coyote-powered rpu giveaway car for Raybestos Brake Corp that went on to win the SEMA “Showstopper Award” in 2010. Other significant builds included the “Platinum Bomb” and the “Brooklands Special”, – both Deuce roadsters and a recreation of the famed HOT ROD Magazine cover car and Monogram model “The Grasshopper”. Unfortunately, before it could be finished, the customer sold that car to Galpin Ford where it was completed.
Besides the more traditional hot rods Hollywood has also built some notable customs including a ’63 Mercury S-22 Comet convertible and a ’60 T-Bird called “Hammered”. Oh, and to show the shop’s versatility there was even a late-model Mustang convertible powered by a 700 hp supercharged engine. It was a supercar designed for the track yet retained all of the comforts of a streetcar.
In 2012, Troy was named the LA Roadsters’ “Builder of the Year” and, the accolades didn’t stop. If you look at the list he had a significant award almost every year up until last year when the ’36 Packard convertible he and his team created for Bruce Wanta won a string of trophies including the AMBR Award, the Custom D’Elegance Award the Sam Barris Award and the Goodguys Street Rod D’Elegance Award in Del Mar.
2017 was a busy year for Troy as that was the year he finally found a building and moved his shop and, if you’ve ever done that, you know what a challenge it can be moving all that heavy equipment. However, it was Wanta’s “Mulholland Speedster” that became a game changer from its hand-fabricated chassis to its retractable, cantilevered top that folds back into the trunk. This is not a mere hot rod; it is a coach built car in the tradition of the creations of the 1930s.
The new Hollywood Hot Rods is a tight space but there’s room enough for offices and a meeting space above the workshop that accommodates about eight cars.
We’ve visited several times recently and there’s always cool stuff to see and in process. All of the projects are interesting but I particularly liked the clone of Edsel Ford’s Deuce-based boat-tail speedster. Four cars share that space and they include a Hemi-powered Model A roadster and a highly modified ’32 3-window with a split-windshield. In the adjacent area there are another four cars including a Falconer L6-powered ’34 Roadster for which they had hand-formed the fenders. Attached to that area is a tidy machine shop containing a mill, lathe, plasma cutter, etc. Outside there’s a fenced yard with room for six or eight cars and the inevitable pile of spares and castoffs. It’s a very impressive shop with an obviously strong work ethic.
At this year’s GNRS Hollywood Hot Rods displayed two very distinct, bare-metal cars in process. One was an Art Deco-meets-Steam Punk Model A roadster with lots of hand-formed brass accoutrements that was really different from what others are building but without being odd. The other car was the split-screen 3-window being built for Pat Gauntt out of Texas.
As we wrote this, Troy appeared on the cover of SEMA News under the headline “How Famous Builders Grow The Industry.” Well, since he started 16 years ago Troy, with the help of his team and his significant other, Davida, he had certainly achieved what he set out to do when he hung the suit in the closet. He’s built a business and a brand that is known the world over for its creative, award-winning builds. We can only assume that the next chapter at the new location will be an equally exciting page-turner.
Meanwhile, as if that all is not enough, Troy has teamed up with Courtney Hansen, known in the automotive world as the original host of Overhaulin’, and Power Block on Spike TV, for a new build show called The Ride That Got Away. It will be a feel good show that builds and reunites deserving people with their ride “that got away”. The show is currently in production and the first episodes should air at the end of the summer.