September '20

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52 THE SHOP SEPTEMBER 2020 T here are many types of specialty shops in the automotive industry, and we're going to look at one of the most unique. In fact, the word automo- tive doesn't even appear anywhere in the company name. The business is Heiden's Woodworking in Vista, California and its proprietor is Ron Heiden, whose name is one of the most renowned in the industry of woodie restoration. Heiden's love for the automobile began at a very young age. Fifty-five years ago, when he was 14, Heiden bought his first car, a 1958 Volkswagen panel van, which he restored himself. He installed a powertrain that included a Chevy 283 engine. After high school, he began working as a general contractor, where he honed his woodworking skills; Heiden still has his contractor license today. This gearhead didn't get into the automo- tive industry until he was in his early 30s. It was then that a neighbor asked Heiden if he'd like to do some occasional automo- tive work with him—forming, cutting and installing wood for customers' cars. It wasn't long before one day a week WOOD IS GOOD The legendary Ron Heiden is still driving Heiden's Woodworking. By John McCabe Coronavirus Update Thankfully, Ron Heiden has mostly positive news to share when asked if the COVID-19 pandemic has affected his California-based woodie custom- izing and restoration business. "Yes, a little bit," says the owner of Heiden's Woodworking. "Some cus- tomers are holding back just a little. But, overall, things still are moving forward." Heiden's busi- ness combines his passions of surfing, car repair and wood- working.

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