By Jim McGregor/ Special to the Langley Advance Times
When Karl Fisher’s 1938 custom-built Dodge truck was announced as the winner of the first Shine Speed Shop Award of Excellence at last Year’s Good Times Cruise-in, Karl was blown away.
“I wasn’t even aware Jimmy Shine was at the show and I wasn’t by my truck when he came by,” recalls Karl. “I have been a big fan of Jimmy Shine since high school and followed all his builds, so to receive recognition from one of North America’s premier car builders is a real honour.”
Karl built his award winning truck in his Maple Ridge shop where he operates Japhands Kustoms.
“I built it from the ground up, fabricating many of the parts, the chassis and suspension are hand-made, and the box is actually from a 1937 Dodge that I was using as a fire pit,” he said.
Karl recalls being seven or eight and building with Lego and playing with Hot Wheels. “I was always taking stuff apart so my Dad cleaned out my closet so I can could use it for a shop and I began building mini bikes, go karts and even a dune buggy. By my teens, it was in my blood and eventually I became a certified welder and got a job in a welding shop.”
That didn’t last long as Karl wanted to build cars and found he didn’t like working with other people so much. “I found a hot rod shop that gave me a chance so I got into car building fairly early. Then after a couple of years I went on my own and worked out of a little shop in my backyard doing chassis builds.”
Like Jimmy Shine, Karl also built custom motorcycles.
“I worked for a local shop building custom bikes for five years and then we got a TV show so we moved the business to Phoenix for a year, then I got married and moved back to B.C. and fabricating hot rods,” he said. “For me it’s always been if it goes fast and you can possibly hurt yourself, I’m in.”
But Karl always ‘overbuilds’ his projects.
“I firmly believe in safety first. Any time I put something out there I have always built stronger and safer than it needs to be. Rat rods have had a reputation for being unsafe but that has changed, and we’re seeing a lot better built vehicles on the road.”
Karl’s shop does mostly metal work and chassis fabrication.
“We are busy, and I’d like to see the business evolve into just custom builds.”
Karl’s Dodge truck sits in his shop being rebuilt for Cruise-in. “It’s in a million pieces right now but I’ll have it ready to be displayed in the Shine Speed Shop booth at this year’s show. It’s getting a face lift and some chassis work and I’m displaying it all bare metal this year.”
Karl will be choosing this year’s Shine Speed Shop Award of Excellence with Jimmy this year. “That is super cool that I can be part of that and present the award to some lucky car owner. I’m looking forward to it.”
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