Rich Pichette is a close friend of the custom car community. He was stricken with a terrible, debilitating disease-Alzheimer's-in the prime of his life. This man has been a huge driving force behind the resurgence of awareness and appreciation for customs on the West Coast for the past 30 years. He is the man responsible for conceiving a show to celebrate kustoms and their builders, West Coast Kustoms Cruisin' Nationals, formerly known as "Paso".
We in this community miss his physical presence and are continuing his legacy by coming together to produce a one-off 1954 Mercury roadster kustom, appropriately named "Memories" in his honor, which was one of his own projects.
The build team is comprised of the best in customizing for the past 60 years. Names like Bill Hines, Art Himsl, Larry Watson, Sam Foose, Rod Powell, Daryl Hollenbeck, and Rick Dore, to name a few, are all donating their talents, time, and effort to get the job done. The build process will take 36 months to complete, with "Memories" debuting at the Grand National Roadster Show. The kustom will then begin its forthcoming international touring life of indoor/outdoor car shows, raising awareness of this debilitating disease. At the conclusion of the tour, the Merc will be auctioned off through RM Auctions-100 percent of the profit will go directly to Alzheimer's research and daily care giving under the direction of the National Alzheimer's Association.
So far, all of the aftermarket parts are gathered and we're on our way to starting this historical build for one of custom's biggest admirers and one of society's worst illnesses.
Speaking of parts, I took an interesting trip up to Turners Auto Wrecking in Fresno, California, to gather the unique "items" from other cars and, yes, I cut the quarter-panels out of not one but two '57 Chevys for the heart of the beltline. The frame and running gear will be transformed into a strong foundation to sit and roll on with the help of Max at Bio Kustoms. From here the entire body will be stripped of all paint and rust and then sealed. Once this is complete, the car is off to Keith Dean's shop for the removal of the A-, B-, and C-pillars as well as the roof section. With the help of Sam Foose, we will section in the cowl and A-pillar from a '66 Galaxie convertible to complete the new windshield and latch system to attach the removable hardtop.
Also, while at the '09 SEMA Show, I had the opportunity of sitting down with Bob Larivee Jr. (Show Promotions/ISCA show producer) to discuss the project being a featured car at all their shows once it's completed. So be on the lookout once we get this beautiful kustom completed for it to be appearing at all the AutoRama, World of Wheels, and other ISCA-sanctioned events!
The project still needs
the public's help. Show us your support by donating to the worthwhile, tax-deductible cause. You'll be able to follow along with the build at: www.richpichette.com
Or make all donations out to:
RP Alzheimer's Project
25717 Margaret Ave.,
Moreno Valley, CA 92551