Derrick Maurer fit a cutoff wheel onto his angle grinder and walked across the Maurer Hot Rods Garage. A gutted 1967 Chevelle SuperSport was parked in the far bay, ready to begin its year-long transformation into a one-of-a-kind piece of rolling art. “One of our strong points is that we’re not afraid,” Derrick said, as he placed the tool’s sharp face against the sandblasted bare steel of the car’s C-pillar. “We’ll cut this roof right off,” he said. “We’ll tear into anything, because we know we can do it.
”After 25 years in the garage, it’s easier for Derrick to list what his shop doesn’t do: “We’re going to do everything short of upholstery,” he said, sketching out his vision for the hot rod. “We’ll rebuild the engine, do some custom body work, fabricate sheet metal. We even mix our own paint in-house.” When this car rolls out of the shop, it will look like nothing else on the road today.
The Chevelle, with its bare frame rails and missing grill, is typical of a new arrival. “These cars start out in really rough shape. They’re mostly cars that people had as kids, in high school. It’s like they’re trying to relive a dream they once had.”
Holding onto the Dream
Derrick can remember that dream. By the time he was old enough to get his drivers’ license, he’d already brought his first hot rod to life. “When I was 14, I saved some money up and bought a 1969 Chevelle for five hundred bucks.” The car became his first project, taking two years to complete. “The car was in pieces when I got it. I painted it, did all the body work, fixed the engine,” he said. “I did all the work in an old chicken coop. Put down plastic over the dirt floor to keep the car clean.”
“That was my first car,” Derrick said. “I’ve been doing it ever since. Now I’m 41. It’s been a long journey, but it’s always rewarding.”
More Than Repairs
The work at Maurer Hot Rods goes far deeper than simple repairs. “We build everything from new to old, customs and restorations. A little bit of everything,” Derrick said. “These full customs generally take a year, the big ones can take a year and a half. But they’re 100% fabricated, and that’s what sets our cars apart.”It’s all about the attention to detail. “We’re not just painting a car and sending it down the road,” Derrick said. “We’re actually making a new car--we’re adding all these custom touches, so when people look at it, they say, ‘Wait, what was that?’ and they try to figure it out.” The customs in his garage feature paint jobs, interiors and hand-fabricated body panels that are unique to Maurer builds. “And that’s the enjoyable part.”
The Personal Touch
Derrick’s passion for cars goes beyond the custom bodywork and glossy paint. “I’m a car guy,” he said, “but more than that, I like people. That’s why I really do it. We’re not doing this to get rich. We do it because we love it, for the look in somebody’s eyes when it’s done. It’s a really good feeling."