Fun with exotic sports cars to CSI.
Can work be fun?
Thinking back at my child hood it was all about playing, yes I had odd jobs but I didn’t dwell on mowing the lawn or my paper route or baby sitting or even going to school. All of these things were put into a compartment in my brain and the less I thought about things like that the quicker I could get on to the things I really liked to do. Like riding my bike with my buddy Mike, playing Hot Wheels with my brother Paul, riding my mini bike, playing with model rockets, building model cars, or looking at Linda Vaughn in the latest Hot Rod Magazine. Not one of the above items took what I called work it was fun.
Toms Custom Auto Body was exactly the same. From the moment that I opened the door I couldn’t wait to get started but then reality would set in and someone would come in late and throw me completely off my game.
The game of life can be so cruel.
All I really wanted to do is go to that place where I didn't have to think about what I was doing, I just had to get it done.
From the moment I started Toms Custom Auto Body I was literally buried in work, maybe because I didn't charge enough and really wasn’t looking at the business side of what it cost, I was just looking at the Pantera’s, Ferrari’s and Porsche’s, and pinching myself because I and everybody who worked with me got a chance to play with real Hot Wheels.
Counting the cost.
Looking back at the business I should have looked at what it really cost to win best paint. The endless nights, asking favors from employees to help on a car that just wasn’t there yet. Na, that wouldn't be fun!
Showing a car and winning car shows are really different, if you don’t win or maybe you get 2nd place, wow what went wrong. In the beginning of Toms Custom Auto Body I was so excited to go to my first show, I’m very young with a awesome project.
It's a 1973 Pantera for George Peloquin, painted in House of Kolor, acrylic lacquer. I didn’t charge much to paint that car but I did work very hard for the money George spent.
It goes to the show, we missed a spot here, and there and so on. Didn’t even place.
Oh well back to work Monday morning, hopefully nobody comes in late, buried with so many projects.
You just put your head down and go. George would come back and we would discuss what happened. I looked at things I could do better and George comes up with the craziest idea I had ever heard. George was a contractor with allot of money.
He says let’s repaint the car, I'll build an electric turn table and Gold plate everything.
My brain goes into that happy place of OH MY GOD! This is going to be fun.
I call Jon Kosmoski the owner of House of Kolor, I beg him to show me how to paint candy brandywine. He flys right out and the next tens years is a complete blur. This happens at a RG Canning show on my 21st birthday. I know have been bitten with the car show bug.
George’s Pantera Pur Gold wins everything.
Picture a beautiful candy brandywine paint, On a turn table, spinning around with gold plating every where, the complete engine, suspension and every nut and bolt is Gold.
At the RG Canning series you are not allowed to have beer on stage. George buys a small black refrigerator has it pinstriped PUR GOLD in of coarse "Gold" makes it look like a safe and now you have a beautiful Pantera Painted in Candy Brandywine and dripping in Gold, spinning around with free beer. WIN, WIN, WIN, it never lost again.
If I look back and put a business plan to all of what happened it never would have happened. I would have missed out on every person I met along the way and CSI would not be here today.
Life can't only be about numbers sometimes its gotta be fun.
My history in the autobody trade
First Restoration, my dad helped me buy this car for $100.00. 1969 Fiat 124 Spider, I'am about 16 years old. My first car was black, It was painted with a new type of paint Ditzler Acrylic Enamel. They said you could not sand and polish, I did and I started my love/hate affair with polishing paint.
Moved to California. Its the late 70s Vans are all the rage. I make a big decision. Lets crop the only vehicle I own, 1972 Ford Van.
Sandy helps out as the project comes together.
notice my handy sketch artwork!
Van is all finished, The Odyssey wedge,
Thank you Odyssey Auto Body In Orange California for letting me work there and use the shop, Flames by the famous Steve Beam.
Notice the Huntington Beach sign in the back ground. It's now 1980, I've worked at a few shops - Like Odyssey then on to Can-Am Auto Body. Now starts Toms Custom Auto Body and Paint in Anaheim CA.
I don't know how I got so lucky. No business plan, just a desire to work on Hot Wheels! Lots of Pantera's, Cobra's, Ferrari's just cool cars. This continued throughout the 80s, 90's till 2008.
Car shows become as important as repairing cars. This is George Peloquin, Mark Peloquin and Sandy Horvath with PUR GOLD. PUR GOLD did very well throughout the 80's in the RG Canning car show series. This series traveled all over southern California and helped Toms Custom Auto Body display its work to a much boarder car market.
The 80's were a fun time at Toms Custom Auto Body, above there is a Group 4 Pantera, (Thats the Pantera with the Big Fender flares), this is Ron Huffs Car. A great friend and was the first ground up restoration Pantera we would restore.
As we were finishing Rons car a guy asked, can I do a poster of this car, I asked Ron he said yes. The Poster become very famous SQEAKY CLEAN. I wonder why? Like I said we had allot of fun at Toms Custom Auto Body.
The 90's become more serious. How do we take this obvious talent from all the employees and go to next level and generate a bigger business.
The Next level in the car show arena would be the Concourse car show's. The competition was no longer just a bunch of people doing what they love and showing off a project, now it was a serious business in regards to each and every step of the way.
First place Best paint In Huntington Beach. This 1st place paint award was an award we sponsored but also won. It was for a 289 AC Cobra.
Local yearly Concourse shows clearly have more money being spent on the cars then local monthly shows. Toms Custom Auto Body would jump right in. The competition was no longer smiles when you got to the show it was serious. Looking back and writing this I could clearly see a attitude difference, and I would have to adapt. For us it would be the Exotic car world, Pantera's of coarse because we repaired so many, But then it would step up to Ferrari's and all the others.
Now comes Pebble Beach!
By The end of the 90's we would win our 1st, 1st place class award at Pebble Beach Concour https://www.pebblebeachconcours.net Arguably the most prestigious car show in the world.
This is a brochure Spies-Hecker paint company put out commemorating the win that Toms Custom Auto Body would have at Pebble Beach. Thank you Spies-Hecker paint for all your support.
The greatest part of the restoration business is one thing, the people you meet along the way.
This is Paul Green he's 80 years old in this picture, He owns an Italian Restaurant in Los Angeles California. What a fun guy. Paul wants his picture taken to show how frustrated he was after running his all aluminum Cobra into a pole.
Pictures of completed Cobra for Paul Green.
We restored 1000s of automobiles from 1980 to 2008. I have so many found memories of a trade that was really fun.
From not charging enough, to winning car shows, to fighting with insurance companies to being buried with work, and yes having swirl marks to winning best paint. There are lots of ups and downs in this trade. But what a ride!
All and all it is great memories from people heading in the same direction allowing all of us at Toms Custom Auto Body to work out that direction we were going, was it always easy NO, but all and all I would not have changed a thing.
Every step I took I can see a path now, yes I made some mis steps, just like riding a bike, you get on fall down and get back on. There really wasn't a reason or a place I was going it was clearly about the journey.
CSI products is part of the entire journey, I'm 60 years old now, this product line is from that journey the difficulty we had on producing show winning finishes, what was important and what wasn't? CSI is very simple, very easy to use and in the automotive line of products we only have 5 products to answer every issue we could come up with. At the end of the day we as a company our trying to service you the customer that is what Toms Custom Auto body did for 30 years, that is what my dad did with his body shop and I believe that is what you are doing too. CSI just wants to help with that journey.
History of Toms Custom Auto Body to CSI
- by Tom Horvath
- August 17, 2019
- 7 min read