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  • Celebrity Drive: Car Hoarders, Meet Rick Dore

Celebrity Drive: Car Hoarders, Meet Rick Dore

Show on Discovery Creates Custom Cars From Piles of Curiosities

K.S. Wang
Apr 23, 2014
Quick Stats: Rick Dore car builder and host of "Lords of the Car Hoards"
Daily driver: 2009 Chevrolet Silverado (Rick's rating: 7 on a scale of 1 to 10)
Favorite road trip: Pacific Coast Highway
Car he learned to drive in: 1967 Ford Mustang
First car bought: 1963 Buick
Custom car builder Rick Dore is known for redesigning old American roadsters, as well as for some of his creations with Metallica's James Hetfield, including their current show car the Black Pearl, which started out as a 1948 Jaguar.
Dore is now the star of Discovery's "Lords of the Car Hoards," where he and former WWE star Chuck Palumbo help people who hoard cars and car parts. While they are called "collectors," sometimes the collecting gets out of hand and people end up with countless car parts they don't need and never get rid of.
In each episode, the two help clean out the hoarder's stuff and then build their dream car with money made by selling those cars and parts.
With all that going on, Dore's daily driver is his customized 2009 Chevrolet Silverado, which was shown at the SEMA show in 2009.
Photo 2/16   |   2009 Chevrolet Silverado Rick Dore 03
"Chevrolet gave me the truck in '09 to do as a project vehicle for SEMA that year, it was an image vehicle," he says. "I did project vehicles every year for several years, probably 45 or 50 cars, for Hyundai, Ford, Dodge and Chevrolet. It worked out great. They give you the car. Supposedly you pay $1. I never wrote a check for $1. You fix it up, paint, tires, wheels, audio, superchargers, performance, you bring it to SEMA and you get to keep it. It's a nice truck for a truck you run around from one town to the next in."
He gives the truck a 7 rating. He lowered it two inches in the front, four in the rear, put on 22-inch performance tires and wheels and used House of Kolor paint, as well as redoing the interior. "When you lower a car, especially a later model car, even if it is only 2 inches in front and 4 in the rear, you lose some of that nice cushiony ride that you get. Tire companies wouldn't want to hear this, but you also lose some cushion when you put performance tires on them. That's why I would give it a 6 or 7. I'm not really a Chevy guy. This was really all about business to me when we got the truck. Chevrolet needed someone to do it as an image vehicle that had a name. And that's why I did it."
Photo 6/16   |   Rick Dore Custom 1951 Mercury
1951 Mercury Rating: 10
His other ride is a purple 1951 Mercury, which has power steering, power brakes and automatic transmission, and gets a perfect 10. "It's a 10 bumper to bumper. It's a Rick Dore car - the top is chopped, the headlights done, it's got all of the radical tricks done to the car. The overall silhouette, the profile of the car, when you stand back and look at it, it's radically different than it was from the factory."
This was the fourth Mercury he's worked on. "It's got the look, it's got the attitude, it's got the lines going all in the right directions. It's a bad-ass car," he says. "It's not the ideal car to get from point A to point B quick in traffic. If you've got a fender bender in that, the party's over. Then it's got to be repaired, unlike the truck, you get into a fender bender, you go into any collision shop, they'll replace the fender."
Photo 7/16   |   Rick Dore Black Pearl
Black Pearl Dore always has a project car to enter in car shows. The latest one is the Hetfield's Black Pearl, which debuted at the Grand National Roadster Show. "We're good friends, we've been good friends for years. He's very much a part of it, as much as he can be."
Hetfield will drive the Black Pearl once it's completed the auto show circuit. "We try to show the car for a year. It'll be done being shown next December and then it will go to Europe. There's a couple of big shows in Europe. They'll bring a name from the car world to Sweden. American cars are huge over there, especially custom cars and hot rods and they'll usually bring a name that's attached to a car like Rick Dore and my newest project."
Hetfield bought a '48 Jaguar four-door saloon and Dore says they decided to sell the body and use the chassis. "We modified the chassis, put a performance 302 Ford motor in and then built a coach built body from scratch," he says. "The title of the car says '48 Jag only because obviously we needed a chassis and the chassis that we had on hand was the '48 Jag saloon. But when you see the picture of the car – everything on the car, except the tires, the glass is even hand built, everything on this car is hand built."
Dore is more known for cutting up Cadillacs, Mercurys and Fords. "My passion is taking a car that Detroit gave us and enhancing the existing lines, improve on the lines they gave us. So this is a whole new universe for me, doing coach built cars, scratch-built cars," he says, referring to the Black Pearl. "It's entirely different and it's been great. We've got the Black Pearl that was shown and we have two others, one is James' and one is mine - they're roadsters that are out of this world. Those cars are in the middle of being finished."
Car he learned to drive in While he is based just north of San Diego now, Dore learned to drive in Yonkers, New York, where he grew up, as well as in the Bronx.
"We lived right on the city line there. So my early years from one to 12 was spent in Yonkers and the Bronx. Some time after that, I came out West and been out here ever since. I hitchhiked out West," he laughs. "I was very young, it was the late 60s, early 70s. Adventures."
He learned to drive in his friend's 1967 Mustang Fastback. "The neighborhood I grew up in, in and around the city, wasn't a middle class neighborhood, most of the people didn't have a lot of money, were poor, and we took trains, the transit system to get around the city," he says. "The only people I know that had cars back then that were in the ball park of my age, were guys that made it back from Vietnam, would go out and buy a car on the GI loan. He had been in Vietnam and he made it back. Those are the memories that I had early on."
He said he would often see neighborhood guys driving around in Chevelles, Super Sports, Novas, Mustangs and Corvettes. "They'd buy a factory drag strip car and be out on a drag strip the following weekend," he says. "It wasn't until really the '80s when I was married and having kids and all that that I got into cars. Since then it hasn't stopped. It just went from one level to the next."
When he was 15 he hitchhiked to Berkeley, California and never looked back. "Back then it wasn't uncommon to hitchhike across the country. You would never even think about it now."
First car bought Dore was going back and forth from Berkeley to Phoenix and on one of those trips to Phoenix, he got his license. Later, in Berkeley, Dore bought a four-door 1963 Buick with money he made working odd jobs. "I did whatever I could back then, working in warehouses, working on docks, unloading trucks - hard labor," he says. "I got my license I think when I was 16. I was driving long before I ever had a license, in the Mustang. I was 14, 15."
The Buick was just a utilitarian car for Dore at the time. "I went to a couple of rock festivals in it, camped out in the back seat. This was the early '70s, mid '70s," he says. "But for the most part it was a transportation car."
He only had the Buick for a year. "It threw a rod on the Golden Gate Bridge, it blew the engine crossing the Golden Gate Bridge, coming from Eureka, California going back to the Bay Area," he recalls.
A tow truck came by and helped tow him off the bridge. "I heard a knock, sure as hell," he says. "Traffic was backed up, I popped open the hood, I could see the rod sticking out of the side of the block, the next thing I knew a tow truck came over, pushed me off. I knew the engine was gone and I walked away. And that was the end of that Buick."
Favorite road trip "When I got into custom cars, my dream was to drive up the Pacific Coast Highway, from southern California, up to the Bay Area on Highway One," Dore says. "It's beautiful going through Big Sur and Monterey and I had done it many times before, but this time I did it in a chopped 56 Buick with a buddy."
They took this road trip in the mid-1980s, first from Phoenix to Los Angeles in the classic Buick and then up to the Bay Area on the Pacific Coast Highway. "Driving this car, it was a pretty showy car," he says. "It had everything but AC. It had power windows, power steering, the top was chopped, it had a 409 engine in it. It was a great car, it really looked cool and it was customized. Just took our time and that had been a dream of mine to build a nice vintage car, custom car, and take it up the Pacific Coast Highway. Memories. There's lots of them, but that one stands out."
Photo 8/16   |   Lords Of The Car Hoards On Scene Photo 05
Customizing cars Before Dore went on that road trip and hadn't yet started to customize cars, one day in 1983 he saw a car that changed his life.
"It was Sunday morning, I was driving down Bell Road in Phoenix. It was very quiet. Must've been 7 or 8 in the morning," he recalls. "And a chopped '50 Mercury pulled up alongside of me. It was pearl white and in midnight blue it said, 'Memories' painted into the rear quarter. I was sitting at the light, this guy pulled up alongside of me. I rolled down my window, I was waving. I was doing everything I could to get this guy to look over at me. His car was stunning. He took off and off I went after him, honking. He never did stop."
The driver never looked over and kept driving. "We didn't have cell phones with cameras back then, but I went home and I was telling my wife about this car. She said, 'What was it?' I said, 'I don't know, there were no markings on it. There weren't even door handles on it.' It was a radical custom, it was shaved, it was smooth, and that just blew me away. ''
He tried but wasn't able to track down that Mercury. "I never saw the car again. It was obvious that he didn't want to talk," he says. "He didn't look over to his left or right. He probably got that all the time. His car was beautiful."
Dore didn't get to customize a Mercury until years later, but after he saw the car that changed his life, he went out and bought a 1956 Buick. He did what he could to customize that and drove it on that memorable road trip up the California coast.
Photo 9/16   |   Rick Dore Lavender Persuasion Front Three Quarters
Around 1989 he sold the '56 Buick and bought a 1957 Buick and with help from friends, rebuilt the car and named it Lavender Persuasion. It debuted at the Grand National Roadster Show in 1993. "The car was a hit. It was on the cover of a number of magazines, it won first place at the Grand National, and I loved it," Dore says. "I was bit by it, I loved it. It gets a crowd of people. It was exciting. The car got a lot of attention, along with that, so did I. Next thing I knew I was doing another car."
He had to sell the Lavender Persuasion to work on the next car, a 1953 Buick he named Breathless, which was built, again with help from friends. "And it's just gone up, the level of cars that I've been fortunate to be part of, and own. Through the early '90s, even the mid '90s, the cars I was building weren't for clients, they were for me, and showing them. Breathless - I built that for my wife and that car was a hit. Every car after that was a hit, and I'd bring it to Oakland, and I always won."
Eventually, Dore began getting big clients, some very wealthy and some famous. "I was always doing one for myself for the next year and doing one for the client," he says. "Most of those people I've become friends with and I remain friends with them today because I don't advertise all that."
One of his clients he can mention is the Texas billionaire John O'Quinn. "He had close to a thousand cars when he died. He must've had nine of mine and some of them he bought from other people that I had sold to. Several of them I built personally for him."
Another client and friend now is Hetfield. "James and I were friends a couple of years before we decided to build a car together and we did a Skylark. I guess it's been ten years," he says.
Photo 10/16   |   Lords Of The Car Hoards Promo
Discovery's "Lords of the Car Hoards" The show debuted recently and airs on Mondays at 10 p.m. Producers from the U.K. called Dore and asked if he'd like to participate, but at first he wasn't interested.
"I'm well known in the custom car world, I'm probably the top two or three in the country, and when I say that I don't mean to sound big headed or cocky about it, it's just that's what it is," he says. "I'm the one that's probably the most consistent, I mean car year after year. Since '99 or 2000, we've done 2 and 3 cars a year. They said, 'Hey we know of you, we know of your reputation, we've got this show in mind, we'd like to do a screen test, are you interested?'"
When they called again a week later he agreed. "I realized it wasn't some kind of pipe dream and off I was to Virginia, to do the pilot," Dore says. "The next thing I knew somewhere around the first of that year they called me up and said Discovery picked it up and would I do six episodes. And that's how it started."
The premise of the show is an interesting spin on the conventional car building show as well as on shows about hoarders.
"The show that premiered he had 52 engine blocks that were all aluminum," Dore says. "Usually with the hoarders, there's always something – a health crisis, a money crisis, but sometimes they do have money. They just never gotten around to build their dream car, to take that one car and finish it off. They just keep accumulating and it's mostly junk. Most of it is not something you really want to start out with."
They clear out the hoard, bring it all to Dore's shop and recycle and sell the parts and use that money to build the dream car. "But the deal is, we do what we what, we take ideas from them, but it's mostly my idea. It's my styling and we give them back the car," he says. "It's a free car for them. But the deal is, they've got to let go of the other stuff."
Photo 11/16   |   Lords Of The Car Hoards On Scene Photo 07
Dore says it's not just hoarding too many cars, but sometimes they have too many parts sitting around like bumpers, windshields, tires and hubcaps. "It's just crazy what they accumulate," he says.
"This guy who had the Corvairs, he had eight or 10 Corvair cars and he had some trucks, but he had 52 aluminum engine blocks, he had palettes of starters, palettes of taillights from different Corvairs. Just shit he just went out and bought, that he wasn't going to do anything with. And it really is like an uncontrollable impulse," he laughs. "What else can it be? What are you going to do with 52 engine blocks? In some small part, we get to help them out, clear away their yards. They get to reclaim it and they get a dream car out of it."
Dore says there are a lot of car hoarders out there. "I'm in the car world, so I know of people when I've called up for parts, whether it was a taillight, or whatever I was looking for, most of the people that I deal with, they call it 'collecting,' it really is hoarding."
The show will hopefully uncover some hidden gems or realize what some cars can become. "Most of these people are above middle aged. They're never going to do anything with these parts. They're probably never going to get a chance to build their dream car, for whatever reason," Dore says. "It's a major avenue for me to find other vintage cars that will never see the light of day on the street. Although we didn't find a vintage Buick, or Cadillac or Ford in the back of this guy's Corvair hoard, there's some other shows where we did find cars that really paid off."
The show also airs in the U.K., under a different title "Extreme Car Hoarders."
Photo 15/16   |   Lords Of The Car Hoards On Scene Photo
Each car took anywhere from two to six weeks to build and the cleaning out process takes time as well. "When we shake hands on deal we have a clean up crew that comes in with Transformer-like forklifts and pulls the cars out. They show the backyard before and three days later when everything was gone," he says.
It takes about seven guys to build the dream car. "These are higher level fabricators, they have a high skill level," Dore says.
The show went to hoarders in Nevada and California. "We had to fly to Reno and drive an hour and half out to the high desert for one hoard and the other one was the same thing, only it was south of the Bay Area, Salinas area," he says.
They would put everything in trucks and trailers and haul it all back to Dore's Southern California shop. "We have a guy on the show, putting stuff on eBay. So we part stuff out, we flip cars as whole, scrap stuff, recycle the aluminum, everything we've got to do to raise the cash, to build the dream car and to put some money in our pockets and it don't always work out so smooth," he says.
Dore says it's nice to be able to reach out and help some people through this show. "I don't know who these people really are, but we meet them and talk with them, we find out a little bit about them. But most of all, we get to build their car and that's what I want to do," he says.
"Lords of the Car Hoards" airs Mondays at 10 p.m. on Discovery. For more information visit Discovery.com
More Celebrity Drives:
Photo 16/16   |   Lords Of The Car Hoards On Scene Photo 03

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