Hot Rods by Dean Uses Blue to Craft Custom Impala for 2014 Street Rodder Road Tour
For Dean Livermore, founder and owner of Hot Rods by Dean, the satisfaction in creating custom vehicles is in seeing a project gel and come together. Custom projects at his Phoenix, Ariz.-based shop include hot rods, street rods, roadsters, muscle cars and vintage trucks. The shop's 10 employees complete in-house fabrication, body work, mechanical work, paint and design. Their projects often include building custom chassis, interior and body work, and even manufacturing their own custom-made parts such as sub-dash panels and stash boxes, which keep the authentic appearance of vintage vehicles while hiding modern touches such as stereos and air conditioning.
“Everything is high end, high class, high finish,” Livermore said. “I enjoy the building the cars and getting the car to the final stage. I enjoy the journey. That’s the satisfaction for me, is making it all come together.”
The birth of Hot Rods by Dean
Hot Rods by Dean started in 2001, at the prodding of a local client who brought his 1967 GMC pickup to Livermore for a custom rebuild. Livermore had worked at other shops before launching his own business.
“He was the driving force of pushing me down the road to say ‘look, you’re going to build my car the way we want it. Our style, our look, nothing bought off the shelf,’” Livermore said. “I started that project in my house.”
Livermore continued to add employees as Hot Rods by Dean grew, with the shop now housed in a 15,000-square-foot facility. At any given time, the 10 employees are working on about 30 cars, with 10 to 20 percent of those complete builds. The rest of the projects are updates, maintenance and refurbishing. The shop also is expanding into the manufacture of custom parts. The shop’s custom-built chassis are what set Hot Rods by Dean apart, Livermore said, because then the fit, finish and styling of a project are unique.
Livermore’s first custom build — the 1967 GMC — went on to become a Great 8 Finalist for the prestigious Ridler Award when it debuted at the 2008 Detroit Autorama. That’s one of many accolades Hot Rods by Dean has garnered over the years. The shop also won the World’s Most Beautiful Custom trophy at the Sacramento Autorama in 2007 and the Goodguys Trendsetter of the Year award in 2005.
“Over the years we’ve gotten a lot of recognition on building high-end nice cars,” Livermore said.
Watch this video to learn more about Dean and his shop.
A showcase of quality
In recognition of that quality, Hot Rods by Dean was chosen to assemble the 2005 AMSOIL/Street Rodder Road Tour car, a 1936 Ford three-window coupe. The shop was selected again to build the 2014 Street Rodder Road Tour car, a 1959 Chevy Impala that will be unveiled at the 2014 SEMA automotive show.
“It’s quite spectacular, and we’re honored to be a part of the build,” Livermore said. “The ‘59 Impala will be a unique and cool car. That fact that it will look very factory, traditional ‘59 Impala, but everything underneath it and everything throughout the car will be custom.”
Street Rodder magazine picks the make and model of the Road Tour car, and Livermore said the ‘59 Impala reflects where the custom market is heading: bigger cars that are more drivable and comfortable for road trips involving several people.
“You can load the trunk up with luggage and all that and really drive it from coast to coast,” Livermore said. “It’s a car to be driven, not to be shown and just to sit in a glass cage and to look at. Though it will be beautiful to look at.”
That expectation will be put to the test once the car is finished, when the Street Rodder Road Tour hits the highways for thousands of miles in the Impala, stopping at rod races and events across the country. Street Rodder’s annual custom build highlights the fact that a contemporary street rod, built with parts from sponsors, can be a fun, safe and reliable car.
Retro style, modern power
The Impala, which will be painted red with black leather interior, will feature a custom Roadster Shop chassis, a Flaming River column and steering components, a Rock Valley fuel system, a LS motor with 550 horsepower, overdrive transmission and independent front and rear suspension.
“It’ll drive like a new Corvette, but you have the styling of a ‘59 Chevy Impala,” Livermore said. “It’s really cool.”
To fit the new chassis and the fuel system for the LS motor, the car needs a lot of modifications. As the main builder on the project, Hot Rods by Dean puts all of the top-of-the-line products provided by the premier vendors into the final package, and it must have fit, form and function. Miller is a proud sponsor of welding machines and equipment for the fabrication work for the Street Rodder Road Tour.
“There’s a lot of fabrication that will come into play, and we’re using Miller equipment to make all that happen,” Livermore said.
Hot Rods by Dean has always been a Miller shop, so Livermore was excited that Miller for several years has been a Street Rodder Road Tour sponsor. The Miller products used at the shop for TIG welding, MIG welding and plasma cutting on the project include:
“We buy it and use it, and it works and it works flawlessly,” Livermore said. “My shop’s always been Blue.”
Hot Rods by Dean also uses Miller equipment to manufacture the shop’s custom car parts, an expanding part of the business. The parts are used in the shop’s own projects, and also are sold to customers locally and even shipped internationally for do-it-yourselfers to use in their own custom work.
Making connections and building relationships with clients, other shops and custom creators is a great part of the journey for Livermore.
“We enjoy going out, enjoying the cars and with the cars comes friendships and all the people you get to meet,” he said. “At the end of the day, that’s what’s important to me, is the friendships and the long-term friendships that you make along the way.”