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New Hot Rod Shop Rolls Into Town

Check out Gary's Rods & Restorations during an open house all day Saturday.

Driving down Walker Street, it can be hard to spot .

With just a decal on the front door, the newest restoration shop in town doesn't look flashy from the outside. Step inside, though, and it's a whole different scene.

There's an orange and white Bel Air convertible getting reupholstered, an old woodie worth more than $100,000 and a the shell of an old Model A the crew is building into a coupe for a lucky teenage girl.

Saturday, the whole shop will be on display for an open house and barbecue celebrating the new business, which opened three weeks ago in Watsonville's industrial neighborhood.

"It'll be like a car show," promised owner Gary George, who expected customers and friends would bring their hot rods by for the event.

George, who lives in Corralitos, converted a warehouse at 546 Wallker St. into his restoration shop this winter.

With four work stations, George and his crew can do everything from minor repairs to complete restorations. Painting is done down the street at , and Fastenal and a sheet metal distributor are in the neighborhood.

"It's a great location," George said.

George said he's been looking for a site for his garage for some time and settled on Watsonville because of the resources in town and the price—cheaper rent means George can pass that savings onto customers. He said that cuts his hourly cost by about 25 percent, compared to similar shops in Santa Cruz.

"We're trying to keep hot rodding affordable," George said.

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