Fast-forward to the late ’80s and the Garcia family started working on cars literally in their front yard. “We have always been into cars. I don’t know how, but I never really pushed it onto my sons, they just seemed to pick it up from me. But as far as an actual shop to make money, well before it was for fun, make a couple of dollars just to go out to eat. When it got serious is when I got hurt on the job as a delivery driver for a local liquor distributor so I had to make some side money to keep things afloat. I got hurt in 1988 and really got the first shop going around 1989.”
So how did he become involved with the great Bill Hines? “It was in the early ’70s. I had seen his work but didn’t really know who it was who was doing all this work. But in 1989 I met him through Johnny Luevanos of Street and Show Kustom Auto Accessories. I was in pretty bad shape, not physically but mentally I was bad. There were times also where we had no money at all for weeks. Well Johnny would be going to all these car shows and in 1988 persuaded Bill Hines to go to this show up in Paso Robles. Bill was so impressed that he came back with an idea to build a custom for the following year.”
How David really got to know Hines and Watson is actually kind of funny. “I was just one of the guys who would come by their shops to see what they were doing. In 1989, Johnny told me Bill needed help building the ‘Little Bat.’ ‘Why don’t you go over and offer him your help.’ It was on a Saturday and my worry was what if someone was to see me working at Bill’s while being on disability. Johnny said that no one would know and if they did ask he said to tell them I was just visiting the shop.”
Once he was there it was very relaxed, Bill and the Garcias were just chatting and in comes Larry Watson. “It was nice to be actually talking with them and not just bugging them, so they were all happy and what really set the tone was when I brought up all the times I’d come by. Larry would remember my delivery truck and all the times I’d block his place off at his Hollywood shop. Lots of laughs and from there it grew into a friendship. We really started hanging out together from then on.
What also helped was doing work for Cypress Auto Body and at one point there was so much work that the Garcia family opted to have the Drag N Shop stay open while also freelancing for Tom Rodriguez at Cypress.
As for true recognition, the car photos featured in this article are true blue to the people who worked on them, whether it be Chris Gomez’ Kaiser, or Ron Gomez’ bitchin’ ’41 Buick, the Drag N Shop dudes had their hands, grinders, and torches all over them. So let the info stand corrected, period.
“With us it has always been about custom work, we never really did collision work,” David says. He added a little tidbit, “Years ago a guy came up to us and said ‘Hey, don’t take offense but do you know what they call you guys? The Mexi-Cans. Don’t you get it? Because if no one else can do it you Mexicans can!’” David chuckles.
How Blurring The Lines Between Customs And Low-Lows Got Lower, Slower, And Cooler