Undercar: Diagnosing And Repairing Wheel Bearing Noise
Numerous design awards hang on the walls inRich Evans castle-turned-shop in Huntington Beach, CA. His awards include recognition of The Skull King project, the Chevy pick-up he turned into a Hummer limousine, the wheelchair-friendly DeLorean-esque PT Cruiser, his latest Ford Mustang GT Project — every design a true original, a piece of modern art. But in the end, nothing says more about the character and career of Rich Evans than the work ethic that once drove him to finish 750 auto body jobs in one year.
Like many technicians, Evans grew up in a shop. His father was a mechanic and shop owner, and Evans grew up fabricating, doing mechanical work and building hotrods. He spent his spare time as a kid taking apart and rebuilding broken tools his father had thrown away. A true prodigy, he rebuilt his first car when he was 15.
As Evans got older, he searched for more challenges. He began working at his grandfather’s auto body repair shop in North Hollywood. It was there that he quickly became a fabrication expert. During his late teen years, he learned the latest repair and fabrication techniques under body professionals at no less than nine auto body repair shops.
None could keep Evans busy enough for his liking. Constantly asking for more work, Evans made deals with his employers to do side jobs at their facilities, while he worked on other projects in his garage at home on the weekends.
Evans had taken his father’s advice to heart, “If you are going to do something, be the best you can be at it.”
With his tireless work ethic, Evans kept an unyielding schedule, all the while dreaming of the day he would open his own shop — a place where he could create an energetic environment and surround himself with professionals who shared his passion.
In 1992 his dream became a reality when he opened Huntington Beach Bodyworks. He first operated out of his own garage, and he survived — then thrived — because of his relentless pursuit of perfection. Evans worked on every aspect of collision repair and restoration, gaining enough respect in the market to attain a job completing a restoration for late-night talk show host David Letterman.
Through the ‘90s, Huntington Beach Bodyworks would grow through a combination of collision work and a burgeoning creative side, eventually growing into today’s million-dollar custom design empire. And while collision work still pays the bills, Evans and his crew live to design. His current 13,000 square-foot shop is an artists’ playground featuring every necessary tool and material for a custom-design paradise.
Evans says he received a lot of help and good advice while learning fabrication techniques from his father, grandfather, and numerous shop owners throughout Southern California. He spent his early years honing his fabricating skills in shops across Los Angeles.
Evans’ design talent was molded through the influence of friends and former employees from New Zealand, who introduced Evans to Terry Stevens, an airbrush artist from New Zealand. The airbrushing skills Evans learned from Stevens allowed him to expand his designs into heavy graphic art on vehicles. With this newly developed skill, Evans was able to generate unique designs on vehicles that he could not create before.
His time with Stevens further cemented Evans’ commitment to helping others discover their talents in this industry. It is one of the reasons he places such a great importance in guiding the next generation of technicians and designers and why he is involved with the T2 School of the Year presented by Chicago Pneumatic. By participating in the search for America’s best automotive school, Evans hopes the story of his professional journey inspires future technicians to achieve great things in the profession.
“Some people in the industry like to hold on to their knowledge, fearing that someone will come along and take their job,” Evans said. “I believe it’s our obligation to teach the next generation. Inevitably someone will follow us, and it’s our responsibility to make sure they have the knowledge and skills to advance our craft.”
Evans has produced a library of educational training DVDs, covering topics from complete body restoration assembly to painting with flake. He has shared his design talents with television programs including MTV’s “Pimp My Ride,” the Speed Channel’s “Cut, Chop and Rebuild” and the Learning Channel’s “Junkyard Wars.”
While show-stopping design work has made Evans a bit of a celebrity, he credits old-fashioned hard work for building his business and making him a successful technician. He shares similar advice with young technicians that his father once gave him.
“I tell them to work hard. Ask questions. And don’t let anything stop you from achieving your goals,” Evans explains. “The most important thing is realizing that things can always be done in bigger and better ways. Coming to grips with this fact early in your career is what will keep you ahead of the competition.”
For more information on Evans and his shop, visit www.huntingtonbeachbodyworks.com.