It has been another amazing year in Las Vegas at the annual SEMA show. What is SEMA and why is it so significant to a little hot rod shop in Washington State? SEMA is the leading aftermarket trade show for automobiles in the world. Ford, GM, Audi and every other manufactures are represented here. Every form of automotive customizing is also present from lifted trucks and jeeps to imports and hot rods. We formed a relationship five years ago with the amazing people at Rancho Dynomax. Each year we have the opportunity to debut a new creation from our little shop in Washington State. See the connection? It is a great platform to show off a new build each year.

This year was one of the best times yet. We wrapped up the 1956 Belair just hours before it was loaded up into the transport truck. Jeff the owner didn't get to see it completed until it was under the lights of Vegas which added to the excitement.  So many people came through in the final hours to get everything wrapped up. There is a certain high about the teamwork and dedication that happens during those final days. The staff of CHC led by Mark Ahrens was put through the test again and worked until He drove it into the trailer. 

The car was well received when the doors to the convention center opened on Tuesday morning. The pride of craftsmanship showed throughout from the stainless trim polishing to the impeccable red leather interior. The black paint was buffed to perfection and the mechanics were all dialed in. They had to be, with zero miles on the car(because of the bad weather in Washington) I loaded up the car owner and drove in the SEMA cruise in front of 20,000 spectators on Friday night! The car preformed flawlessly. 

A special visitor stopped by Wednesday afternoon wearing a GM badge and invited the crew to the GM awards banquet the following morning. This little breakfast is given to recognize top builds in 8 categories.  I found myself sitting in a room with friends and heroes alike. The car was recognized by GM with a "Best Exterior" award. The design team asked how I came up with such a stunning combination that stopped them in their tracks. I couldn't take much credit as the car was built through a group effort. Jeff, the owner came up with the colors and even the paint code of grey. Doug Wright's crew crafted the panels straight and laid out the amazing paint. Jamie McFarland nailed the perfect red leather interior with the right twist of factory and updated styles. It really was a group effort including the right Forgeline wheels and translucent Baer brake calipers. The Dynomax exhaust was coated to a perfect shine to match the powder-coated Art Morrison frame. In all, nothing jumped out at you. It all just flowed together like the team that made Jeff's car possible.

After being home for two weeks and life becomes normal again one thought begins to emerge.....Let's build something for SEMA 2016! 

Car Restoration: A DIY Guide - Part 1: Finding the Right Car

I have been working closely with Chris to conceptualize a multiple part blog series that will hopefully serve as a guide for the "at-home" DIY builder.  This is the guide that will seek to compile Chris' years of experience into a compact series of posts that can hopefully help others not make painful, time-consuming, and ultimately budget wasting mistakes.

Since this series is aimed at providing exceptional value to you, the reader, we welcome any and all questions or comments!


Part 1: Finding the Right Car

In the first part of this series, we wanted to tackle the first step -- finding the right car.  The reality is, when seeking to restore a car, we are typically dealing with 40+ year old cars, so there are many factors that must be considered.  The end goal should seem obvious: find the best car for the cheapest price.

However, before actually being able to find the best car, its important to take the starting point of determining two specific starting points.

1. What is your budget?

It's very important to determine a budget going into your project, for obvious reasons.  This will save a lot of trouble further down the road, because there are many decisions that will come up that can greatly alter the price.  

2.  What is your intended purpose of the car?

This might seem obvious as well, however, its important to determine this aspect from the start.  What purpose does this car fit?  Will you and your family of 4 be using this car to drive around Washington state? -- if this were the case, you probably don't want a 32 roadster.  Do you want to drive this car on long road trips?  -- you probably don't want to install drag racing suspension.  Just because something looks cool, or is seemingly higher quality, doesn't mean that it will fit the specific purpose.

Stick to the Plan

Once you've brainstormed the two previous questions and clearly defined an answer, it's important to stick to this plan.  Another way of looking at this can be picking your genre and filling it.  Budget and purpose work together to solve any confusion further down the road, even when it might be tempting to add certain upgrades.  If they aren't practical, or within the budget, it's a simple answer.  Now that you have your goals clearly defined, it's important to move forward and actually work on finding the car itself.

6 Steps to Finding the Right Car

Now you have your 2 goals defined, its time to decide which car is going to be your project car, and further, actually shopping around for different cars.  We've put together a list of 6 steps to making sure you find the right project car that fits your needs and also saves you money in the long run, leaving you with a car you can be proud of having built yourself.

1. Stay Away from Obscure Cars

Cleaner cars that are more common are simply easier project cars, especially if this is your first project car.  It's also important to consider the fact that more common cars have more appeal and a higher resale value.  If this isn't in your long term purpose for the car, thats fine, however just keep in mind that a more common car often comes with cheaper parts.  Choosing a car that is very obscure has many problems associated with it, including harder to find parts, also increasing the price. 

2. Stay away from Disassembled Cars

Be very careful when choosing what car you purchase.  Cars are listed as complete, until you actually personal start to take it apart and realize that you're missing several key components to a fully functioning, safe vehicle that you can be proud of.  This is even more so for cars that are disassembled.  You will not actually be able to fully take inventory of the parts that you need until you take it apart, so its important to be wary of any cars that aren't listed as complete.  Keep in mind your overall budget.  Even though a disassembled car might be listed cheaper, you might be spending much more money in the long run trying to account for various missing parts.

3.  Stay away from Rust

Major reconstruction already is an absolutely time consuming process.  Adding major amounts of rusting to any vehicle becomes a huge multiplier for time spent, plus there will be hundreds of hours of time put into the car before it even starts to look like a car.  Lastly, if you don't know how to do rust repair on a professional level, it's going to cost much more money in the long run.  Avoid rust as much as possible.

4.  Ask a Professional

This is an extremely important step.  If you have no idea what you're looking at, make sure you consult a professional before handing over the money in a purchase.  There are far too many people in this industry that are seeking to take advantage of your money and enthusiasm.  There are many professionals who are willing to check out a car with you for a decently small fee (including Chris).

5.  Check the Numbers

VIN numbers are extremely important to check.  Just because the owner hands you the title to a car doesn't mean that you are purchasing a legit car.  To further explain this point, we are dealing with 40+ year old cars.  Therefore, the person you are purchasing from may not even know that the VIN isn't clean.  It's always best to check and be sure.  You don't want to end up that guy who poured thousands of dollars and hundreds of hours into a car, only to have it eventually returned to its rightful owner.  There have been cases of owners who had their cars stolen over 30 years ago, only to be returned a professionally restored car when the builder tried to ship it.

6.  Reaffirm the Plan and Stick to it (again).

Yes, we keep driving this point home, but this is one of the most important steps of the whole process.  If you don't care about a full restoration, don't but a specific car as a project.  For example, an SS Chevelle is much more expensive than a Malibu with a 283.  If you are absolutely set on the SS Chevelle, do a full restoration on it.  However, if the general idea is what you're going for, stick with the cheaper alternative and do a more extensive restoration.  Always seek to build a full, complete car that you can be proud of in the long run.

Hopefully this blog was of help to you.  Please feel free to leave any comments or questions below, or contact CHC.  Our next part in this series will be "Shopping for the Perfect Project Car."

The Biggest Frustration in the Hot Rod Business

We wanted to take the time to be quite transparent for a moment -- the hot rod business can be quite frustrating!

Don't get us wrong, we absolutely love our jobs at CHC.  Our crew is incredible, and we get to combine our passion with our skills to provide incredible results in our full builds.  However, our crew is highly specialized in many areas that you might not think of when you see CHC at SEMA.


"Fresh Restoration" "Show quality" "Drive Anywhere"

What does that really mean?

Currently, we have a feature magazine car in the shop with all the top quality parts; custom frame, modern drive-train, beautiful leather interior. It sold at Barrett Jackson with only 200 miles since completion.  

However, it came to us barely running with multiple issues that required several thousands of dollars to repair. The car had bad wiring, was unsafe to drive, etc. 

Even though we show complete builds and high dollar SEMA cars - the bulk of our work is hot rod repair and updating.  Engines, suspensions etc. Punch problem. We can get the car or truck to function at its best.  

We pride ourselves in those three areas: "Fresh Restoration, Show Quality, and the ability to Drive it Anywhere.'  We come from a mechanical repair background specializing in the drive train brakes suspension ----wiring AC etc, we can make that car safe.  For instance, We have done more LS engine swaps than any other shop in the state of Washington and possibly the Northwest. We are LS swap specialists. 

The frustration comes when the emphasis in the industry is placed on a car with top quality parts, but there is a lack of emphasis in safety, completeness, and ability to drive.  These are a few of the areas that CHC takes a huge pride in -- it's all about this little things. "Show Quality" is something that we pride ourselves on, even on the smallest of jobs, but that same "Show Quality" must also include the ability to "Drive Anywhere."

Countdown to SEMA 2015: 10 Weeks Out

As we get closer and closer to SEMA 2015, we wanted to give you guys a few updates along the way so you can follow our journey.

We are extremely excited as this will be our 5th Anniversary of partnering with Dynomax.  As you already may have noticed, this year will feature our '56 Chevy.  

If you've been following CHC, you know that we pride ourselves in providing quality and extreme attention to detail.  Once finished, this '56 Chevy will arguably take that to a whole new level. 


Conceptually, this '56 Chevy is a fusion of the Pro Touring and Classic look.  This '56 boasts an LS3 and automatic transmission, to create a perfectly balanced modern, classic ride.

This week, we are fine tuning the wiring, and will be firing it up for the first time -- video to follow.  In the next week, the upholstery will be finalized, featuring all red interior to give it the classic look.

We are excited about the progress we have made, and it was great to display the progress at Goodguys Spokane this past weekend.

Make sure you stay tuned for more updates, we know we have a lot of work left to do.

Goodguys Spokane (2015): Weekend Recap

This year was our first year at Goodguys in Spokane, and it was an exciting one to say the least.  On Friday, we were met with 50 mph winds and a dust storm, only to have it clear up for a great turnout for the rest of the weekend.  

On display were our featured SEMA 2016 cars, the '56 Chevy and the '65 Mustang.

We were absolutely thrilled by the unique car culture that we experienced in Spokane, as we met many people from a wide reach of places.

One of the biggest highlights of this show was really just being able to interact with the various people that had heard of our shop before, and wanted to connect with us face to face, while also making new friends and spreading the word about our brand as a whole.  

We met people from Alberta, Montana, Idaho, Iowa, and even Hawaii.  To those of you that were able to grab some merch, thank you guys for your support!

In summary, we are definitely coming back next year!  It was an incredible opportunity to connect with old friends, and meet some new friends as well.