The owner of Smitty's Custom Automotive, Chris Smith, started his business as a basic body shop in 1999, but since has had 20 full magazine features about restorations he has completed.
"It started when I built a 1967 GMC Truck within a year of opening and we took it to large shows," Smith, 37, said. "I got a magazine shoot and it was voted top 10 custom trucks of 2001."
Smith said he has one the biggest awards in the business, by making the "Great 8" in 2007 and 2010.
PHOTO BY AARON POST
Chris Smith, owner of Smitty’s Custom Automotive, works on a ’67 Chevy truck in his shop. While Smith owns this truck, he has worked on seven other vehicles at this shop so far this year.
"This recognizes the top eight cars in the country," Smith said.
Customers hear about Smith's custom-designed cars at car shows or read about them in magazines and bring in their own sketch or painting of a customized vehicle they want built.
"We have customers come from around the country that come to us with an idea or a rendering and we build them the car of their dreams," he said.
Smith did some work on a truck for Bascom resident Paul Hemminger.
"Nobody in Tiffin can do a paint job like Smitty," Hemminger said. "All I can say is he is recognized by what he does. His work speaks for itself."
Customers bring in a vehicle, and often have it stripped down to the frame to be redesigned.
Smith said he is working on seven cars this year.
Jobs can take from 800 hours to 6,000 hours, Smith said.
Smith said his shop, located on TR 98 just south of Tiffin, has the capability and resources to make "absolutely anything."
"We went from basic restorations and body work to building full custom ground up show cars and race cars," Smith said.
Smith's vehicles have been featured in many magazines, including Sport Truck, Truckn, Classic Trucks, Street Trucks, Car Craft, Hot Rod and Super Chevy.
"My dad was always into old cars and going to car shows, so naturally was I," Smith said. "I told him we could start a small body shop - in the shop -and do some old cars too."
Smith bought the shop from his father within two years of opening and since has added personnel, trailers and equipment.
"We have 48-foot and 30-foot enclosed trailers that allow us to transport vehicles safely from coast to coast and sometimes Canada," Smith said.
"Over the years we have added employees," Smith said.
Smith said five work in the shop now.
"In 2002, my brother Tony started working with us and my dad taught him the metal fab stuff and I taught him how to do body work," Smith said.
Some tools in the metal fabrication section include an English wheel, pneumatic bead roller, MIG and TIG welders, equipment for shearing and tube bending and notching, band saws, car lifts and racks.
"We also sell custom wheels and tires and there is a soft mount machine, capable of rims up to 26" in diameter," Smith said. "We can ensure safe mounting with no damage to the rim."
Smitty's also handles car audio and electronics, regular
collision work and the basic oil change.