A Signless Hot Rod Shop in Deep Ellum Attracts Plenty of Attention (Like, Say, a TV Pilot)

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Photos by Leslie Minora
Aaron Kaufman will pimp your ride -- oh, and his beard is better than yours.
A long-time Deep Ellumite gave me a tip the other day: If you want to see a cool place where a guy with a great beard makes motorcycles from scratch, check out the gray building on Main Street.

So I did, and that's where I met Aaron Kaufman, the 29-year-old self-taught hot-rod builder and motorcycle maker. After working at Gas Monkey Garage for nearly 10 years with Richard Rawlings, a rock-star presence on the hot-rod racing circuit, Kaufman opened his Main Street shop a little over a year ago. "So many cars are good-looking, but they're not sexy," Kaufman told Unfair Park. "You can fix a lot of that."

The shop operates like a plastic surgeon's office for cars and motorcycles, and it moonlights as a recycling facility, giving old cars a second chance at life. While the bulk of his business is smaller nips and tucks -- lowering a roof, lifting a car, routine maintenance on old hot rods -- he also builds vehicles nearly from scratch.

When I visited last week, Kaufman had a '67 Ford pickup in the works. With a replaced engine, suspension and brakes, the beat-up shell was nearly in street-racing condition, with transplanted parts that came, ironically enough, from recycled Crown Victoria police cruisers.

"Cars don't really die," Kaufman said, "They just have multiple lives. They reincarnate."

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Truck on the outside, police cruiser on the inside.
In the back room, a much more beautiful vehicle held court: a 1940 Ford Coupe, covered with fabric for protection. It was in the shop for maintenance work and upkeep.
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Kaufman uncovers the 1940 Ford.
Kaufman became hooked on the craft of hot rodding shortly after learning to drive. A Jeep Cherokee was his canvas. He lifted it, rebuilt the suspension and made a new bumper. "You have to fix all the things that bother you," he said. "I like to fix things that are perfectly fine."

In order to improve his craft, Kaufman has surrounded himself with older, more experienced hot-rod builders. A self-described "hippie" who previously wanted to become a park ranger, he's become hooked on tricking cars, and that addiction landed him the job working with Rawlings.

Rawlings and Kaufman's life on the road caught the attention of a St. Louis production company.The pilot for the resulting show, Fast and Loud, centers around Rawlings's life of partying and racing and features Kaufman. Discovery Channel bought the pilot, but no concrete plans for a series have been made.

In the meantime, Kaufman is busy with his shop, ready to hit the road at a moment's notice if the show gets picked up. Whatever he hits it in will probably be damn cool.
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19 comments
methanenation1
methanenation1

Show's okay. I admire Aaron Kaufman and the other mechanics' skills, but the show is misnamed. It should be Fix n' Flip, not Fast n' Loud, as there's more flipping going on than anything else.

sparky123
sparky123

absolutely THE BEST show on tv -you guys ROCK - LONG LIVE RICHARD & Aaron!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Kirsty Sistare
Kirsty Sistare

I would like to say congrats! ***** five stars for me!! OH BY THE WAY MY NEWLY WEDDED HUSBAND IS LOOKING TO SELL OUR COLLECTION! SOMETHING YOU AND THE WORLD MUST SEE.. IF INTERESTED WE ARE BASICALLY RIGHT DOWN THE ROAD, LORDSBURG, NEW MEXICO! leorod440@gmail.com / sistare_kirsty@yahoo.com

Mean Ass
Mean Ass

If you want to see some cool beards, go to The Old Bike Shop. It's east on Empire Central right off 35E

Stephanie
Stephanie

Saw the announcement about the show's premier-----the very very best of luck to you Aaron!!!

Walcyrn
Walcyrn

It got picked up...Good luck guys !!

Joerodder
Joerodder

Ah it reminds me of the days when I had my Fuzzy Dice hanging from my mirror in my 69' Chevy

Jesse_J
Jesse_J

Oh sweeet. Another dumbed down car show. I hope Discovery passes on it. Maybe a show about all the things that hippie finds in his beard would be more interesting.

poo
poo

Very cool place.  Check it out but don't stay too long.  Those things don't build themselves.  

Josh's broken records
Josh's broken records

Rawlings is an old friend of mine, if there is one thing he knows..it's partying. 

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Amazon Promotional Code

There are different products but bike in the last is awesome and completely different from the other and i love most that bike than other things.

Robert
Robert

I'll watch it. I like watching Chasing Classic Cars, Top Gear, Wheeler Dealers with  Mike Brewer & Ed Chiner (I know how to spell thank you), Mecum Auctions, West Coast Customs, and some others. Jay Leno and Tim Allen are even interesting when they're talking cars and not trying to be funny.

My grandfather had a '68 short wheelbase Ford truck similar to the '67 pictured with 3 on the tree and Armstrong steering.

Bigjondaniel
Bigjondaniel

Sweet!  I believe all three generations of Wilonsky men would probably dig that place

Harvey Lacey
Harvey Lacey

That is great.  I'm not so sure the television thing is a good thing.  I mean have you seen some of those shows?  But the working on stuff and doing it different, that's too kewel for words.

Coleman
Coleman

I had been wondering about these guys for a while...sure do hope their pilot gets picked up for a series, that would be neat.

G_David
G_David

Man, I hope he vacuums all the beard hair off the floorboard when he's done with a car.

DuckDuckGoose
DuckDuckGoose

The car/bike 'reality' shows that torque me off are the ones that have a component of "oh my Gawd it's 12 hours until the big show! Will they make it on time?"

As long as they stay away from faux dramatics (and Lord help us the Chip Foose 'overhauling'/punk'd BS show), this might be interesting ..

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