This Local Garage is Home to World-Class Craftsmen
Photography by Aaron McKenzie for Petrolicious
Say the words “artist’s studio” to most people and what springs to mind is stretched canvas atop easels, nude models posing for a sculptor, or perhaps a potter throwing clay on a wheel. For those of us in the car world, however, the definition of such a space is a bit more expansive. We find artists at work in the shop that cuts and stretches leather for the interior of an old 911, in the paint booth as an E-Type is being resprayed, and in the bay of a old garage where a small team tunes race engines for maximum performance. In each of these places, you’ll find artisans making something where previously nothing existed, applying creative solutions to practical problems, interweaving function and form.
Take, for instance, Mr. Steve Hogue’s shop in Torrance, California, near Los Angeles. Housed in a nondescript industrial area of the city and with space for only a dozen cars, the garage appears at first glance to be one of the many small-scale body shops that populate the local streets. Wander inside, however, and you’ll find yourself standing next to an original Cobra, its chassis barely concealed under a bare-metal deck-lid and nose-piece. Turn around and there sits a Porsche 718 RS 61, awaiting new bodywork. Other rare Jaguars, Ferraris, Pierce-Arrows, and even a ‘shoebox’ Mercury fill in the other spaces. Clearly, this is no ordinary body shop.
Hogue grew up close by in Culver City, Calif., where from an early age he was immersed in the vibrant car culture and where he gradually developed his reputation as one of the region’s best metal-shapers. In 1990, he set up shop in Torrance and along with his crew–composed of British transplants Messrs. Kevin Masson and Peter Malin–he now spends his days playing not only with aluminum and steel but also with fiberglass and even wood.
We recently paid the Hogue team a visit on an unusually quiet day in their shop. This gave us a chance to wander the shop, nosing into crevices and peeking behind the body panels that hang from every high surface, and to grab a few photographs. We hope you enjoy this glimpse into a true artist’s studio.