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Passionate about cars

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by Mitchell de Moor, Nov 11, 2012.

  1. This is something I have needed to talk about and get off my chest since 2010. I am glad to be a part of a forum like this where I can express myself.

    I have been lying to myself, my family, and my friends for the past two years now. It was only until about last week that I slapped myself in the face and said it's time for a reality check and to stop lying to myself.

    All I ever wanted to do since I was a child was build kustoms and hot rods. I went to high school overseas where there was no access to any tools or cars. So in 2010 I put an advertisement here on the HAMB about doing an internship. I had a ton of people wanting to help me out right away. I eventually decided to go with Alex Gambino at Gambino Kustoms in San Jose, California.

    I moved back to the other side of the world to start apprenticing under Alex at his shop in San Jose. Although me being a Canadian citizen I could only be there for six months:(

    While working for Alex in 2010 I had a blast. Alex is one of the sweetest most generous people you will ever meet. I also got to meet pretty much everyone in the scene on the Left Coast. It was a total dream come true.

    However the magazines didn't tell me there wasn't much money in the industry or there wasn't much demand for kustom cars and hot rods (go figure:confused:).

    So I left Gambino Kustoms not sure if I should go back or if I should go back to school (college or university). Eventually I came to the decision of going back to school.

    So I started a two year (diploma program) at a college for a University transfer program. I thought okay I'll go to University and become some suit and tie ass hole. I kept telling everyone this is what I wanted and eventually I myself came to the realization I was happy doing this.

    I made it through the first year although I could tell my heart wasn't in it. I knew I wasn't putting in the same effort I was putting into cars. I kept lying to myself and family though saying this is what I wanted.

    Now here I am almost done my program. I am stuck with the decision of applying to university or going back into cars.

    My heart just isn't in this though and I am driving myself crazy thinking about cars all the time when I should be thinking about school.

    I can't sleep at night thinking I need to make a decision NOW or I'm screwed. I am only 21 but it feels like the world has a gun to my head saying DECIDE WHAT YOU WANT TO DO IN LIFE NOW. I am just not sure though.

    I am thinking I can do cars either full time or try and go do a design course and design cars and/or motorcycles and build cars in my garage on the side. I am just not sure.

    Should I continue going to school and land a good job and build cars on the side? Or should I just put all my effort into building cars?

    I am in a relationship now and I want to marry this girl someday and we already talked about having a family. Will I be able to support a family by chopping Model As and leading Mercs? Or will I have to get a better job?

    I am just not sure what to do at this point. I hate the school I am going to now and hate the program I am in. I miss welding and doing sheet metal work. My passion is hot rods, kustoms bobbers, choppers, vans and lowriders. I just don't have the same desire for doing silly assignments at school.

    What do you guys recommend? How many of you out there are doing what you love? How many kustomizers out there wish they went to school instead? How many people that went to school wish they built kustoms instead?

    Sorry for the long rant. You guys probably think I'm a little bitch (maybe I am), but I just wanted to get this out there. Maybe some of you guys have been through this and can offer some advice. Any advice will be greatly appreciated.

    Thanks!

    Mitchell de Moor
     
  2. Willy301
    Joined: Nov 16, 2007
    Posts: 1,426

    Willy301
    Member

    Well, I would say you are putting a lot of pressure on yourself. A decision that important is not one to be made on the spot, or taken lightly. Education is never a bad idea, even if the education is not directly related to where you want to end up in life. With the current economy, building customs full time may not be a great choice, but earning a respectable living while building cars on the side is a good way to get a start. While Gambino Customs is a widely known name, it is ultimately your name that needs to be known in order to get a foothold in the industry. With that said, if you get a further education, and get a good paying job to support yourself, your projects, and your future family (read:saving for your future) is a way to get started. Build a car or 2 in your garage, and get the word out that you are doing it so people can see the kind of work they can expect if they trust their project to you. It is great that you are highly motivated, but unless you have a fortune tucked in the bank or already gotten all your tooling together with allowance and Christmas money, it will take a lot of money to get your shop outfitted for this kind of business. A good job would go a long way in getting the tools pulled together. Then when you do decide your ready to open up full time, you have the tools that will earn the money.
    At any rate, I wish you sucess in it.
     
  3. Willy301 I want to thank you for you're response. These are the exact responses I was looking for. You are probably right I am putting a little to much pressure on myself. I just don't know if I should apply to another school next year or go off to a community college for welding or body work. I see you're point though. It probably would make a lot of sense to get a decent job after school and build a couple cars in my spare time. That way if I decide it's for me I can show people the work I have done. Thanks a lot for you're help and support:cool:
     
  4. go to school. you have the rest of your life to build cars, but school gets increasingly more difficult the longer you wait. and by the time you realize you should have gone to school, its usually too late.

    i'm like you. the only thing i've ever wanted to do is work on cars, so i went and got my technical degree. then i went to university. then i went back to working on cars. i own my own business now.

    working on cars is often thankless, backbreaking, low paying work. few guys can do it for any length of time and keep the passion burning. the guys who can, will at the very least, eek out a living, but few ever get rich doing it. most sacrifice family and personal quality of life to simply make a living. for some there is no other way.

    there is NO WAY i could ever go back to working for some one else, punching a clock and having some turd bark at me about this or that.

    here in the US we have to worry about health insurance and such. i pay 600 a month for my wife and i to have mediocre coverage. when i crashed and broke 4 ribs and collapsed a lung, the bill was over 30k. i still had to pay a bunch of that even with insurance.

    i love my work (general repair, but we do some hot rodding here and there) i wouldn't trade it for the world, but i really wish i had all the perks i had when i had a job. i made the decision in my 30's.

    give school and a job a go and see if its for you. build stuff on the side for yourself to showcase your talent. you really do have the rest of your life to follow your dreams. anyone who tells you otherwise quit on life.

    i'm not at the end of my road. at 40 is till have a bunch of dreams... like going into customs and hot rods full time once i get my repair business humming along, but in this economy, that might take a while.

    good luck!
     

  5. Don's Hot Rods
    Joined: Oct 7, 2005
    Posts: 8,319

    Don's Hot Rods
    Member
    from florida

    Some people are lucky enough to find employment at a job they really enjoy, it must be fun going to a job like that every day. But the majority of us go into fields that may not be exactlly fun for us, but it pays well and is secure. I have had jobs that I almost hated but I was making so much money and had responsibilities that I couldn't just leave.

    The custom car/ hot rod fabrication business is not an easy road to earning a living. For every one person who is making a good living at it there are probably 5 or 10 who are not making it. We have some very good, succesful car builders on this forum and I bet they will tell you it isn't the easiest job in the world, especially when you are sometimes dealing with customers who have champagne tastes and beer budgets.

    Years ago I worked for a body shop and the owner was very successful and had a waiting list to come in for work. But he had a very simple philosophy, he only did collision work where the insurance company was paying the bill. He would not take a self pay, or do a paint job, or any kind of custom work. He said those jobs were only problematic and got in the way of the jobs that would make him money. Plus, he didn't have to put up with customers trying to beat him out of paying what the job cost.

    My suggestion is to get your degree and education and find a good solid job that you can have security in, and maybe build a car a year in your spare time to sell. Then, if that takes off you might want to consider that on a full time basis.

    Don
     
  6. 34Flatty
    Joined: Nov 4, 2012
    Posts: 68

    34Flatty
    Member

    I agree with willy301...you are putting way too much pressure on yourself. I remember feeling the same way at 21 and was well on the way to a career as an airline pilot. I met the gal that is now my wife of 11 years and we have two kids, and decided being gone for 3 and 4 days as at a time as an airline pilot wasn't the kind of husband and father I wanted to be. Not saying that does'nt work for some, but for me, I needed to be there everyday. I'm now 33 and still am not sure what I want to be when I grow up:) Doors open and doors close. I currently run a volunteer program, but also work at an antique car dealership/salvage yard and have learned an amazing amount about old cars/parts/how things work.

    The important thing for you is that you are motivated and actually making an effort to be a productive citizen. I like the idea of getting an automotive related job that would provide a living, while also improving your skills whether it would be with engines or bodywork etc. Build on the side and see where it goes from there. Where I live, there are numerous small to medium car builders/restorers etc and it seems that it's always a hard time making ends meet. One last point. You can choose a simple lifestyle and probably make it work once you have some experience. The guys that start to get into some money usually end up increasing there spending on bigger/better houses/cars/toys etc. If you truly love old cars and want to make a go of it, keep pursuing it. I think if you are wise with your money and an honest businessman, you can make it. I really hope things work out for you.
     
  7. Thanks a lot! I really appreciate it! I always thought about maybe having a body shop someday and doing a hot rod or kustom a year in the shop as well, but do the regular shit to pay the bills.

    Thanks! I like the last paragraph a lot. It sounds like a very well thought out plan. It reminds me of the book Jesse James American Outlaw where he is working for a shop, but building stuff in his garage in his spare time. Eventually his stuff gets a huge demand and then West Coast Choppers is started. Thanks a lot!
     

  8. Thanks a lot man I really appreciate it! I will try and be wise with my money it's just hard when I see all these cars and car parts for sale:D Also my boyhood dream car was a 1968 Charger so I LOVE you're avatar:cool:
     
  9. Dave B.
    Joined: Oct 1, 2009
    Posts: 225

    Dave B.
    Member

    Hi Mitchell

    Well, first off, it’s a really good sign that you have come to realize that you have to make serious choices when it comes to a vocation.

    What you learned during you apprenticeship is exactly right: for most people, there isn’t a lot of money to be made in the car hobby. Yes, there are those here on the HAMB who have made some serious money building customs and/or providing supporting parts or services. But, I’m also sure that almost anyone in that group will tell you that it not only takes skill, it takes a huge amount of commitment and not a little luck... and the road to success generally isn't either short or smooth!

    I’ll give you my side of the story… after working in the parts business and taking a stab at selling cars, I came to the same point where you stand a little over 40 years ago. I was into racing instead of customs, but I was a deeply committed car-guy and it would have been easy to just stay in some part of the business. I looked at all my options and thought about what other jobs I could do and not hate to go to work each day. I had always liked math, so I decided to go back to school and get a degree in accounting.

    For me, it was the best decision I could have made. The job I finally landed gave me enough free time and money to stay involved in the part of the car hobby I loved. It also gave me excellent benefits and allowed me to save for my retirement (both VERY important considerations).

    In the end, the decision YOU make will have to be one you can live with; but… First, make sure that your future wife is in agreement with your choice and is willing to support you in your decision. Second, keep in mind that working full-time modifying cars and bikes isn’t the best environment for your health. At 21, most of us feel like we’re bullet-proof. That attitude usually changes when you have a wife and kids. A lifetime of breathing paint and welding fumes, as well as being exposed to all the accidents that can happen in a shop, will probably have at least some negative effect on your body. So yes, as you've already realized, almost everything is a compromise. The important point here is that you have to identify your priorities and choose a vocation that will both satisfy your creative side AND provide for you and your future family.

    Sorry for the long post… I do wish you all the best in choosing your path in life!

    Dave B.
    Just an old, retired guy who still hasn’t grown up
    <!--[if gte mso 9]><xml> <w:LatentStyles DefLockedState="false" LatentStyleCount="156"> </w:LatentStyles> </xml><![endif]--><!--[if gte mso 10]> <style> /* Style Definitions */ table.MsoNormalTable {mso-style-name:"Table Normal"; mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0; mso-tstyle-colband-size:0; mso-style-noshow:yes; mso-style-parent:""; mso-padding-alt:0in 5.4pt 0in 5.4pt; mso-para-margin:0in; mso-para-margin-bottom:.0001pt; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:10.0pt; font-family:"Times New Roman"; mso-ansi-language:#0400; mso-fareast-language:#0400; mso-bidi-language:#0400;} </style> <![endif]-->
     
  10. rocket8
    Joined: Sep 14, 2006
    Posts: 621

    rocket8
    Member
    from antioch CA

    Moose, having worked with you, I know the passion you have for hot rods and customs. Your education is golden. You're young still and have time to figure it out. If you and your lady want to get married and start a family there's lots you have to think about when being able to provide for them as well. Like mentioned before, you can always do custom stuff on the side. Extra cash on top of your pay check ya know? Don't jump because you think time is short.
     
  11. Thanks a lot Dave! I am trying to look into other things I have a passion about. I know what you mean about all the fumes involved in building cars. Also my future wife will support me no matter what. She wants me to be happy and she always helps me research things for my future and backs me on all my decisions. I appreciate you're long reply a lot. Thank you!
     
  12. Thanks man! I was actually going to shoot you a message about what you thought about me getting into bodywork. Is that something you recommend?

    P.S. It's the fucking Catalina Wine Mixer!!!:D
     
  13. Jim Bouchard
    Joined: Mar 2, 2011
    Posts: 640

    Jim Bouchard
    Member

    All good advice here. These guys are right. It is a tough, funny business to be in that has alot of challenges.

    My 2 cents is to do it on the side first for fun then for profit. At some time in your future after an education and a good job and lots of experience you can decide if you want to stay with the regular job or jump off into a shop of your own. You will know when the time is right and which way to go.

    My father told me many years ago dont turn your hobby into a job because eventually you will want a new hobby. He was right!
     
  14. Don's Hot Rods
    Joined: Oct 7, 2005
    Posts: 8,319

    Don's Hot Rods
    Member
    from florida

    Those words from your Dad are very true. When I worked at a body shop I couldn't stand to see another car at night, so my own projects just sat. When I was in the marine business I sold my own boat because I was around them all day and that took all the fun out of it. I don't know how guys like Langy can work on a customer's car during the day and then go into the garage and build his own after hours. He is more of a car lover than me, that's for sure. :eek:

    It is like the guys who work at a doughnut shop, I bet they never have the urge to eat one.

    Don
     
  15. Lurker McGurk
    Joined: Apr 8, 2011
    Posts: 159

    Lurker McGurk
    BANNED
    from next door

    I just want to say one word to you. Just one word.
    Are you listening?
    Plastics.
    .
    .
    .
     
  16. 34Flatty
    Joined: Nov 4, 2012
    Posts: 68

    34Flatty
    Member

    Thanks man...my dream car has always been a 68/69 Charger, and 34s are a pretty close 2nd...I never thought at this age I would be debt free and own one of each...I've never made over 30K in a year, and just living simply and paying down debt as quick as possible pays off. GOOD LUCK!!
     
  17. deto
    Joined: Jun 26, 2010
    Posts: 2,620

    deto
    Member

    Nice graduate reference...

    Here is my take. I understand your conflict. I have worked in shops since I was 18. I stayed In the car scene and got a BA from a private university. 4 years later I'm welding for a living. Take what you want from what I am gonna tell you. I never built a car for a "car guy". The guys who could afford really nice rides figured out how to make money and had somebody else build it for them...


    Posted from the TJJ App for iPhone & iPad
     
  18. precisely.

    it took me almost 8 months to get around to pulling the clutch on my harley. its less than an hour job, but the thought of working on something that i'm not getting paid for.....

    i almost all but quit what i REALLY love which is painting and pinstriping because i turned it into a job. now i'm just very selective of the jobs i take, whether or not theres any money in it. its actually quite therapeutic in comparison to diagnosing late models and turning wrenches.

    now i have a 48 plymouth in my garage that needs my hands on it. its really a mental game because i do it all day for a living and after work i just wanna hang out with my wife and dogs and watch a football game once in a while.

    finding balance in ones life is something that is only achieved through being out of balance. it teaches you what is really important to you.

    you're already one step ahead in that you're thinking about it.
     
  19. gemcityrenegade
    Joined: Jun 9, 2007
    Posts: 171

    gemcityrenegade
    Member

    I love hot rods, bikes and 4x4s so much I don't ever want to work on them for a job. My plan is to get my MET degree and let that take care of my super massive car and metal habit. If I had to work on cars all day I wouldn't want to touch on when I got home. Look around at some of the older mechanics you may know. They hate cars. You can still be a nut job about this and not work for Barris.
     
  20. Jim Bouchard
    Joined: Mar 2, 2011
    Posts: 640

    Jim Bouchard
    Member

    ^^^exactly!^^^
     
  21. Jim Bouchard
    Joined: Mar 2, 2011
    Posts: 640

    Jim Bouchard
    Member

     
  22. TRUTH. I have three friends that have there own shops. now we are not in the Bay area or Portland or LA. but I would almost bet you can hear the same story even there
    and I think Carlo would tell you its a hard life. up 6 days a week 12/16 hour days. hoping the client pays you on time, and you have to be a slave to the shop theres no being sick. Education is most importent here go get the sheep skins get a good job then look at building a few rides for your self, build a car on your wages and look at the expense of the tools shop gas wire ETC. remember as an owner you may or may not get paid. its a hard road to go down. Great luck with your choice.
     
  23. Tudor T-Rod
    Joined: Sep 20, 2012
    Posts: 8

    Tudor T-Rod
    Member

    A lot of great advice so far. Here is my two cents. Find a career that has some interest to you and pays well without having to work 60 hours a week. Make sure that there are job oppurtunities in that field. Too many people get an education and then find out that there a no jobs available when they graduate. Hobbies=fun and enjoyment and most people work to fund their hobbies and pay the bills. I think most people will tell you that work sucks and time flys, so make sure you can make the most out of your time at work, so you have the time to spend enjoying your hobbies and afford them at the same time. My last bit of advice is this: your priorities in life will change right now it is your girlfriend and your carrer choice/school focus on them. Soon enough it will be starting your career and advancing in that and some day marriage. And then there will come a time when none of the stuff I just typed will matter or compare to starting your own family, but you will have a good paying job, a hot rod or two in the garage, and the time to cruise with them to a car show to meet your friends.
     
  24. chopolds
    Joined: Oct 22, 2001
    Posts: 5,896

    chopolds
    Member
    from howell, nj
    1. Kustom Painters

    Great advice here!
    I have to add to the "get a good education and good job" group.
    If you get a good job making good money, you can really build yourself nice cars. If you are in the "biz" you won't have the time or energy to build yourself something to drive.
    I've been building cars for over 30 years, PART TIME! Due to having a decent (not great) job, I have built myself a shop that most people are very jealous of, and have a few cars I'm working on. I build cars for other guys, for fun, for extra money for MY projects, or for fame and fortune (haha!)
    When I worked in someone else's shop, I didn't have the enthusiasm to work on my own. when I tried to do this as my OWN business, same thing...and I also had to (and still do occasionally) take in cars, and projects I really don't enjoy doing, to make money. And when guys can't pay up...you can't pay your mortgage! If you work regularly, you can take care fo the important things to get along in life, and still have fun and enjoy working on your own cars! A "real" job will also provide you with medical coverage...VERY important as you get older, and a retirement fund.
     
  25. 3onthetree3
    Joined: Jul 12, 2008
    Posts: 267

    3onthetree3
    Member
    from Saugerties

    I feel like this was me 20+ years ago. All I could think about was cars, and maybe girls a little. I worked at a shop for a bit, loved it, but could not make enough money to have my own hot rod. I did not go so school, but I did get into an industry that I enjoy (I help to manage outdoor events), but as I look back, I would not change a thing. I have a great career that lets me build my own cars for fun, and I an very thankful that I get to do that. If your passion is cars, follow it, but in my case, that meant working hard at another career to be able to build my own hot rods. Good luck buddy, and In my opinion, whatever decision you make will be the right one for you.


    Posted from the TJJ App for iPhone & iPad
     
  26. pitman
    Joined: May 14, 2006
    Posts: 5,037

    pitman

    QUOTE=Don's Hot Rods: Some people are lucky enough to find employment at a job they really enjoy, it must be fun going to a job like that every day. But the majority of us go into fields that may not be exactly fun for us, but it pays well and is secure. I have had jobs that I almost hated but I was making so much money and had responsibilities that I couldn't just leave. "These are called Golden-Handcuffs."

    The custom car/ hot rod fabrication business is not an easy road to earning a living. For every one person who is making a good living at it there are probably 5 or 10 who are not making it. We have some very good, succesful car builders on this forum and I bet they will tell you it isn't the easiest job in the world, especially when you are sometimes dealing with customers who have champagne tastes and beer budgets. True, (Don is damn near always, spot-on.) and the work continues IF you have a good business sense, and be able to walk away, to take a break, before it eats you alive.

    Years ago I worked for a body shop and the owner was very successful and had a waiting list to come in for work. But he had a very simple philosophy, he only did collision work where the insurance company was paying the bill. He would not take a self pay, or do a paint job, or any kind of custom work. He said those jobs were only problematic and got in the way of the jobs that would make him money. This an issue of weighing time, and meaning, found in-the-work.
    Plus, he didn't have to put up with customers trying to beat him out of paying what the job cost.

    My suggestion is to get your degree and education and find a good solid job that you can have security in, (unfortunately, this often approaches fiction these days) and maybe build a car a year in your spare time to sell. Then, if that takes off you might want to consider that on a full time basis.

    You can seek work that compliments the passion you feel, as your feet hit the floor in the morning. Over time this will change, even 'mature'...most of us come to find. Keep a sense of appreciation, as unexpected things will happen. And it's a long road too, of lessons that 'inform' about the time-for-money exchange, and the generative vs extractive mindset-s.
     
    Last edited: Nov 12, 2012
  27. Finish what you started. Even if you never work in your chosen field finish what you started.
     
  28. go to school get educated, earn big money

    i went to tech school for auto mechanics and auto body both crappy choices for earning a good living no money in it and cripling work on your body


    and forever regreted the choices as far as earning money

    but the personal satisfaction was great
     
  29. There is lots of good advice here. I was not unlike you when I was in my early 20's. All I wanted to do was build cars. I had a pretty good side business built up doing custom paint on Harley's and restoration-type paint jobs on cars. However, I started getting to where I didn't like my hobby anymore and I probably could not have made good enough money only painting to support a family anyway. My wife talked me into going back to school for engineering which I am thankful for. I can now support a family and can also enjoy my hobby. I didn't actually finish my engineering degree until I was 28, but thankfully we didn't have kids yet. You are still young and have time to figure this all out. Good luck!
     
  30. Very true!
     

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