Ionia Hot Rod Shop tour.

Posted: December 23, 2011 in Ford Roadsters, Hot Rod

Christmas came a couple of days early for the students and mentors in the Gilmore Garage Works program today, when Dennis and Matt Lesky opened the doors of the “Ionia Hot Rod Shop” for a Holiday tour.  The Lesky’s, builders of traditional, high end Hot Rods, gave the kids, and the “grown-ups” a lesson in hot-rodding, craftmanship, and creativity, showing off the in-progress cars in the shop.  Their trademark builds are completely “in-house” done, with as little, or NO, readily available “off the shelf” parts used.   The group gathered around Matt’s mocked up, Buick bodied, Nailhead motivated, modified roadster outside the shop, and it was just a teaser for the group was about to see inside.

Dennis and Matt, in their typical casual style, showed the group how they apply imagination, craftsmanship and creativity to each of their projects.  In the shop today they showed off several of their trademark ’32 Ford chassis, and a ’34 Chevrolet chassis being built for a customer.  That one is requiring them to step outside of their “comfort zone” a bit, but as evidenced by the work, they’re not letting that stop them, even on “Brand X”. 

Dennis is seen here giving a bit of his philosophy about Hot Rod building, turning what some would call scrap into the amazing bits of sculpture that characterize their cars.  Showing the group a custom-built licence plate holder for his own ’32 RPU project, Dennis was asked if  he hadn’t considered using a commercially available retractable licence plate holder.  “Yes”, he said, “but it doesn’t fit the style of the build, as a mid ’60’s type car.  I made this from scrap tubing and boiler plate.  It’s about imagination, and being true the era.”  

And not taking the easy way out.  After all, a Hot Rod or custom car is supposed to be about the builders style, imagination and craftsmanship, not about ordering parts on-line and assembling them according to what the current trends are.  Come to think about it, it’s not just cars that applies to, but life in general.

After shop tour and conversation, Dennis took several lucky students for a ride in “Regret”, his well-known “survivor” hot rod.  It’s been part of his family for decades, and still wears paint from its drag race duty in the ’60’s.  With is period correct Pontiac 389, traditional early Ford suspension, all updated with Ionia Hot Rod Shops chassis work and craftsmanship, the car is a rolling billboard for their style and exemplifies what a Hot Rod should be.  Let’s hope that even a small part of Matt and Dennis’ enthusiasm and attitude rubbed off.

I know it did on me.  Thanks guys for a great day!


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