It’s pretty much a given that classic pickups are an important facet in all our lives. And even though classic trucks and their related pursuits are forever in the forefront of us enthusiasts’ daily lives. There are more important things in life of course—family, friends, and health being the first to come to mind in my case. What got me thinking about this over the last few days or so (above and beyond my daily appreciation of my extremely understanding wife, Candy, and my ever helpful pop) was my good fortune in that some dear friends of mine (actually almost family in my eyes)—who I’d regrettably sorta lost touch with over the last few years—have reentered my daily life. The dear friends of which I speak are renowned custom car, truck, and motorcycle designer and builder Gary “Chopit” Fioto, his beautiful wife, Cindy, and children Nick, Tiffany, and Fabian. The Chopit family count as some of the best friends I’ve ever had and I’d really missed ’em over the last few years.
For the few whom may not be familiar with Chopit, he’s one of the custom world’s most talented builders/designers, right up there with his friends and mentors Barris, Dean, Starbird, et al. Chopit began building customs, hot rods, and motorcycles as a teenager back in Long Island, New York. As time passed and his many award-winning cars, trucks, and bikes gained their well-deserved notoriety Chopit began to tire of the short summers and long, cold winters of the Northeast. Around six or seven years ago he relocated his family and Kustom Shop to Florida, where he found that not only was it much warmer there than it was in good ol’ New York, it was a hundred times more humid to boot. So, after six years of a jungle-like environment Chopit finally came to the realization that sunny SoCal was the place to be.
After countless trips back and forth between Florida and California, Chopit looked at over 300 potential shop buildings as well as countless home possibilities for he and the family—all pretty much on the QT (as well known and as in demand as he is as a builder he still likes to fly below the radar as best as he can). He finally found a suitable building just a few months ago in Stanton, and touched base with me and Candy once the shop and new home were occupied and set up for daily life and work. Chopit knew that the more people who knew what he was up to would have put things on the back burner so they’d be able to be of help with the move and shop setup—but never one to ask for help he and the family began to let their friends know that they were now here—only after all the moving, set up, and work was done. Even though he’d often be the first one to offer up unlimited help to any of his friends with no questions asked—Chopit is an all give, no take kinda guy …
So, now that I have my friends close at hand, a loving family of my own, moderately good health, the greatest readership and advertising friends in the world, and a yard full of classic pickup projects, my life is full and I’m a happy and extremely lucky guy. And we SoCal rodders have lucked out as well by gaining easy access to one of the most talented custom car and truck builders in the world. So, please join me and the SoCal-based automotive publishing world in welcoming Chopit and family to their new digs in California. And if you’re currently contemplating having a one-of-a-kind, show-quality classic truck, custom car, or street rod built, and you wanna deal with a straight shootin’, to-the-point, professional builder you gotta have a talk with my pal Chopit—you’ll be glad you did. Give him or his equally talented son Nick a call at 714-226-0860 and tell ’em your pal RIZ told ya to call! CT