Hotrod & Restoration

January/February '13

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The shop recently put the finishing touches on this 1936 Ford custom coupe, which was built for customer Darren Moore. On his way out, he walked by the college's auto repair facility, and ended up signing up for one of the auto classes. Soon, he was working on his first project, a 1977 VW bus that he shaved, lowered and customized. Before long, his teacher was offering him private jobs to work on the side of his classes. After graduating from El Camino College with a degree in auto body collision repair and painting, Scott took a job at Performance Paint, where he began detailing and painting high-end cars. "That's when I decided to go out on my own, and started my own mobile detailing business," said Bonowski. While the mobile business garnered him several high-profile clients and a lot of business, Bonowski was eager to settle into a shop of his own. Putting Down Roots Bonowski rented a 2,400-square-foot shop in Redondo Beach, California, and word began to spread that Bonowski knew his way around a paint booth. Soon, customers were bringing their cars in to be painted and show-detailed, and Bonowski had to expand his shop. He rented out a shop in nearby Torrance that was about twice the size of his original shop, and kept churning out eye-popping paint jobs. He also began to take an interest in exotic cars, and took home several awards at the Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance and the Concourso Italiano for his paint jobs. Soon Bonowski's customers were asking him to customize their cars, and after doing his first complete custom show car, a 1934 Ford with candy paint, the custom jobs started rolling in. One of those custom jobs—a 1951 Ford convertible called "Pandora's Box"— put Bonowski's name on the radar after it was named the 2006 World's Most Beautiful Custom. He followed up that build with "Blackie," an exquisite 1936 Ford he purchased from hot rodding legend Blackie Gejeian. Additionally, at that time, he built a 1958 Porsche 3565 for noted car collector Bruce Meyer and designed, fabricated and built "Helleanor," a 1968 Mustang Fastback that Bonowski did in all steel. In 2007, Bonowski decided to move his shop to Signal Hill, California. The 13,000-square-foot facility that Hot Rods & Hobbies currently occupies includes a dedicated color-sanding and polishing room, a downdraft paint booth, cross draft body shop, metal work and fabrication area, and mechanical area. He also keeps a 1,500-square-foot storage space in the building across the street from his main facility to store cars and parts. Getting Down to Business Bonowski's shop employs 14 people: one doing paint (in addition to Bonowski himself), four guys in the body shop, three doing metal fabrication, four in mechanical, a dedicated parts guy and an office manager. That's down from the 17 employees he once had. "When the economy tanked, we had 17 employees and we had to drop that down to eight people," Bonowski said. "We dropped down to 32 hours a week for three months to cut down on overhead. We began to stockpile work and ended up getting so busy that we had 2013 January/February Hotrod & Restoration HRR_Jan/Feb13_Pages1-63.indd 25 25 1/24/13 2:18 PM

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