It all started with model cars...
My family sparked my interest in classic cars and hot rods when I was a kid. I remember stories my uncle and cousin would tell me about the cars they had growing up and it made having one sound so cool. I grew up near Astoria, Oregon and I have always liked working on stuff, from BMX bikes to dirt bikes, and to eventually cars. My first car was a ’54 Chevy Belair, which I still own to this day and I am currently modifying.
The passion for working on cars all started when I was 15. I got a wrecked 1974 Ford Courier Pickup for 150 bucks. I rebuilt it from the ground up and added some custom wheels and lowered it. That truck went through 3 engines! Back then, I didn't have any money so I learned how to fix things myself. I learned a lot from that Ford truck. Wrenching and customizing was in my blood. Since that one truck, I have worked on 100s of cars and trucks that I have personally owned over the years.
I first moved to Bend at the age of 21 and got a job in the aircraft industry. With no real experience, I was put into the body and paint department. This is where my passion for painting led me to paint classic cars and do custom work on my own hotrods. People started to take notice of my rides and I started painting their cars. This went on for about 15 years. From there, I helped start-up and run a hotrod shop in Sisters, OR for a number of years where I learned even more skills on higher-end builds. I then had the amazing opportunity to work for my idol and mentor, Charley Hutton at his shop, Charley Hutton Color Studios in Nampa, Idaho. This shop was the name of the game when it came to body and paint. I learned a lot working with Charley and I have huge respect for the work he still creates to this day.
After working in Idaho for a number of years, I found my way back home to Bend, Oregon where I started work at Flyte Camp as a shop manager. My background in custom metalwork and paint was exercised on a daily basis restoring vintage travel trailers. We had great experiences there from our TV show, rallies, sema-builds, and our amazing customers. During this time, I always had a project or two in the works at home.
I’m always pushing myself to create more custom builds every day focusing on engine swaps, air ride, chop tops, and other custom metalwork. After building a record-setting truck for Barrett Jackson, I decided it was time to do my own thing. I have always thought about running my own business and even first registered my business back in 2006. But, I have always had great employment opportunities, and with a family and bills, it was too scary to go off on my own. When things lined up in 2019, I grabbed at the chance and took things into my own hands. I finally decided to open my own shop, Retro Rides, the same name I had actually registered back in 2006. It was meant to be! I had finally come to realize that there is no perfect time to start your own business. But I knew it was time to do what I love and show it.
Now that I have my own shop, I am learning every day all aspects of running it. My previous experiences have paved the way for doing what I love, building custom cars.
At Retro Rides of Bend, we specialize in custom metal fabrication like chop tops, body mods, sheet metal work, suspension setups, air ride, motor swaps, paint, and body.
I am a real person who strongly believes in hard work and treating customers fairly. My passion goes into each and every one of our builds.
Eric Uht - Retro Rides - Hotrods and Restorations