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John Stimac

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John Stimac got into hot rodding early. When he was 11, he, his next-door neighbor Mike and another neighbour built a 'Monogram' scale model of a '32 Ford Highboy. After that John built quite a few more models. They were pretty affordable back in '56 - 77¢ or so!

In 1957, John's mother sent him to pick up some groceries. When he exited the bakery, he saw a memorable sight - a '32 Ford 3-window coupe parked out front! The coupe belonged to photographer Tom Peter, who later became fast friends with John. These days they attend shows together, photographing the autos in attendance, and John sends both of their photos in to Hot Rod Hotline to share with other auto enthusiasts. Tom and John both have '32 Fords today.

In 1959, John bought a full-size '49 Ford and took the motor apart. He had a burning desire to get involved in hot rodding culture. He's always found joy in working on cars as much as owning and driving them - owning a great rod is nice, but knowing he built it with his own hands makes it special. Over the next several years he had a number of Fords, selling one to get another after wrenching on each. He rented a spot in the garage from his grandmother so he had a proper space to keep his projects.

John and his two neighbours, who had worked together as children on model cars, all ended up becoming mechanics. John worked with autos at several different places over the years, and when he went to serve in the armed forces, he worked as an airplane mechanic. Getting out in '68, he spent time studying with a painter, which gave him a solid grounding in how to show an image to its best advantage.

He started photographing cars for Hot Rod Hotline about 18 years ago. Photographer Ray Schuler, a good friend of his, had been taking pictures of cars at Goodguys shows down in Indianapolis. Knowing John had been taking pictures all his life, Ray suggested he try photographing autos and sending the pictures in to Hot Rod Hotline.

These days, John has seven cars of his own in Lake Havasu City, Ariz. Five of them are '32 Fords, just like that first model car he built back in the '50s. These include a black roadster, a silver Victoria, a red street rod 3-window coupe which he used to race at Indianapolis, a 4-door sedan and an original 2-door sedan with a rebuilt Mercury engine. He's also got a '51 coupe - also a Merc - with a Turbo 400 transmission and a '42 Ford 4-door survivor sedan, which he bought and cleaned up recently after it had been parked for 30+ years. He makes sure to drive each car to keep them in top condition.

John's favorite cars are '32 Fords. The building where he keeps his is like a museum, sporting original '32 Ford grilles, NOS fenders and the like all over the walls - you can see a gallery here, which includes more than a few of his amazing cars. Of his own impressive '32 Ford collection, he can't choose a favorite - but the red racing coupe might be the most exciting. While he hasn't raced it since 2005 or '06, before that he raced it for four or five years in 1/8 mile shootouts, and it still runs as strong as ever. He services the engine regularly, and the results show - the coupe has had the same sturdy powerplant for 23 years.

John enjoys seeing the many different flavors of hot rodding culture, but likes the retro look best - a car with everything Henry Ford put on it never fails to impress. He also loves making hot rods, preferably keeping an old school appearance.

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