June '19

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34 THE SHOP JUNE 2019 N o doubt about it, hot rods are hot right now. Usually I cover the 12-volt industry. However, the sophistication in designing hot rod interiors has melded the worlds of relays and hog rings. In other words, fabricators today have to work with fine leathers of yore and com- bine them with sophisticated electronics so they don't look out of place. Keeping a traditional patina while adding modern conveniences can be a real challenge. One fabricator leading the charge of combining the old and the new is Bryan Schmitt, president and lead instructor of Mobile Solutions. He cut his teeth designing show vehicles for manufacturers such as Rockford Fosgate, and has also worked in the retail sector as well as in the installation bay. Schmitt created a special training seminar specifically for hot rod interiors, joining forces with Juan "JT" Torres of retailer Automotive Entertainment, a recently named installer of the year in the 12-volt world. Also on hand was 12-volt specialty product manufacturer Orca Design. Orca imports the Focal brand of speakers and has partnered with a manufacturer in the U.S. to design subwoofer enclosures that fit underneath the rear seat of pickups. Everyone at the seminar was all ears to learn how to get the same results in a custom hot rod interior. CALIFORNIA CONNECTION Schmitt previously worked with Ron "The Stitcher" Mangus to explore the newest techniques for custom interior design. Mangus, of course, is known for building interiors for high-profile hot rods including some made famous by rock bands such as ZZ Top and Van Halen. "California is a special market for the industry," Schmitt notes. "The consistently good weather lets hot rod enthusiasts drive their cars year-round, and that means there is a lot of profit opportunity for (elec- tronics) retailers who can meet the demand for customization. This special class we offer is designed to open the door to the category and let local and visiting retailers see what it takes to become an expert in Seminar teaches 12-volt professionals how to work today's electronics into custom interiors. A recent seminar offered tips for blending today's high-tech electronics into custom vehicle interiors. Hot Rods & HIGH-TECH By Brett Solomon

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