Tom Prewitt



The Monster Garage Interview



Q: How did you get involved with Monster Garage?

When Monster Garage was still in its concept stage, Hugh King (Motorcycle Mania 1 and 2) and Jesse James contacted me to see if I would be interested in the project. They explained the concept, and I was immediately hooked. I couldn't resist: I HAD to be involved. I'm having a great time with it, and it's been a very enjoyable experience so far.

Q: Of the monsters you've painted so far, do you have a favorite?

Yes, I do. Switchblade, the Mustang converted into a lawn mower, which was the very first monster car, has special meaning to me. Monster Garage was still in its starting stages and had not yet been set up to be the working garage it is today, so there were obstacles to overcome. The time factor, lighting, work benches everyday items that you take for granted when you are used to having your own shop were not readily available to me during this time. Luckily for me, I had a great assistant: my son Jason Prewitt, who proved invaluable in helping me overcome these obstacles. With his help, I was able to finish the project as scheduled; I couldn't have done it without him.

Q: Do you follow a standard process for painting each monster machine?

No, I don't; only production shops have a standard process. As you have seen, Monster Garage machines are very unique, and each presents a different challenge. I usually take a good look at the project at hand and get a general idea of how to go about getting the desired effect. Once I had an idea of how to accomplish this, I would go over the process with my crew.. Once we agree on how it should be done, the crew packs my bags, wishes me luck and sends me off to Monster Garage.

Q: How long does it take you generally to paint a monster machine? How about some of the bikes you work on?

Paint time depends on color scheme and design. Basic colors are usually only a couple of days. Pearls, candies, metal flakes and other exotic colors take about an extra two days. The Impala/Ice-Resurfacer was a two-day project, but in an upcoming episode you will see a Kyle Petty NASCAR project that took 126 man-hours to complete.

As for motorcycles, well, that's like comparing apples to oranges. You can't pick up a car and examine it from every conceivable angle in 10 different types of lighting the way many of our customers do with their motorcycles (as they should). So, when painting motorcycles, we take that into account and use different techniques not used in automotive painting. We strive for perfection, and our results speak for themselves. Motorcycle projects can range from three weeks to over a year, depending on how radical you want to go: mild or WILD!

Q: Tell us how you got involved in the custom-paint business.

A: First things first, I'm a third-generation body and paint man. Back in 1942, my grandfather Gordon Prewitt and my great-uncle Roy Prewitt started a body shop. All the knowledge and skills gathered through the years were passed on to my dad, Tom Prewitt Sr. My dad moved the shop from its original location in Bell Gardens, Calif., to what is now Prewitt's Quality Body & Paint in Klamath Falls, Ore. That body shop is currently run by my brother, Dave Prewitt. Cousin Rick Prewitt handles the body work and frame work, while at the same time training his son Travis to be one of the next generation of Prewitt painters.

My introduction to custom body and paint work came at a very young age. At 7 years old, I was already hanging around Big Daddy Roth's Garage, which at the time was located on Slauson Ave. in the city of Maywood, Calif. Big Daddy Roth was close friends with my dad, and on occasion we would take a trip to his shop for a visit with him. On one such trip, I can remember seeing one of his projects in action, the Hovercraft named "Rotar."

By age 9, I had already built my first bike well, minibike, anyway. With help from longtime family friend Jim Lemon, I was able to build the frame, front and rear suspension. My dad still has that bike. At age 16, I started building my '65 Ford Ranchero lots of custom body and paint with help from my cousin Rick.

After high school I decided to start my own body and paint business. I opened up shop in Brea, Calif. Shortly after opening up shop I met , Richard Perez. Richard had been working at a nearby production-type body shop. Being so close to my custom shop, it didn't take long before he noticed the wild work being produced by me and my cousin Rick. Rich would stop by to visit and was soon hooked on custom painting. Not long after the first visit, he was working alongside me and my cousin.

We shared our knowledge and techniques with Rich. It took us only about five years to be recognized as one of the top award-winning custom painters on the show circuit. Fifty percent of custom painting is talent; the rest is heart and determination. Many of the techniques and secrets we use today at Resurrection Customs and Hot Rods were learned through trial and error. Any slow time we had we used as "experiment time," trying out new ideas and techniques. With all that knowledge and experience, it wasn't long before we were on top of the custom-car painting biz.

Running a top-notch paint shop is tough enough on its own, but when the unexpected happens it can be devastating. Such was the case at a certain point of my career. Tragedy struck in 1984: I had a motorcycle accident that caused me to take a year off. Time to close up shop a while.

After I recovered from my injuries, I started working for a custom paint and body shop; I did metal finishing and lead work for six months. After a couple of years of working for other shops, I was ready to go on my own again. Luckily, my friend Damon Richie was getting ready to retire and had his shop up for sale. I, along with Richard, purchased the shop in 1989.

Damon Richie has since passed on to a better place, but not before one last visit to say he was really proud of what we had accomplished. He too is still a big part of what I am today, as it was he who passed on a wealth of knowledge and responsibility to maintain the quality, creativity and honesty that is lacking in far too many of today's businesses. Today we stand tall in knowing that we can honestly say nobody does it better. Our bikes customs and rods have been featured in numerous magazines. Our paint jobs have won countless shows. So when I say "our," that is meant as "Damon's," and "Resurrection Customs & Hot Rods" for it has been and continues to be a team effort for everyone involved, including our customers.

I travel some, and teach custom work, all over the states. I have been doing some paintwork for the big auto manufactures like Ford and Toyota. Plus, I took best of show at the S.E.M.A. show in Las Vegas 2005 with a new Mustang that I did for Ford. My kids are Jason and Shelby and sometimes, if I am lucky, they work with me. Jason is a rock star and is still in school; Shelby is beautiful and is twenty-four but still daddy's little girl. I pity the guy that mistreats her; if I don't talk to him first I am sure that Jason will. Some of my expertise's are: Dad, Artist, Custom Painter, Custom Body Man, Consultant, Custom Bike and Car creator, Pool Hustler, Educational and Motivational Speaker, Problem Solver and Ass Kicker!!!