Charlotte native Dave Shuten is currently in California fulfilling his dreams of working at the top level in the world of custom cars and hot rods.
Shuten grew up in Charlotte, where he developed an interest in cars. He said it started with Hot Wheels and then moved on to model cars. Eventually, when he was a young teenager, he turned to full-size cars. He said he has always been inspired by famous car builders that he read about in magazines, like Ed Roth, George Barris, Dean Jeffries and a few others. He has also been inspired by local hot rodders like Dan Turner and Butch Nye. He said his favorite car as a kid was the Batmobile from the 1966 TV show ‘Batman.’ He is currently working on such a car in his shop in California.
Shuten said there is a huge difference between Charlotte and California. “The difference between Charlotte and California couldn’t be bigger,” Shuten said. “It’s hard to explain but it just seems like everything and everyone is here.
“There is always something going on and the weather is pretty nice too.”
Shuten said his ideas for cars come from all kinds of inspiration, mostly from history and art. His favorite car that he has built to date is “Iron Orchid,” a completely custom 1934 Ford coupe.
While Shuten has been able to realize and achieve most of his dreams, there are still a few that he would like to achieve in the future.
“Having Hot Wheels turn some of my cars into toys would be amazing,” he said.
Some of Shuten’s standout awards include being named to the Rod & Custom Hall of Fame and receiving the House of Kolor “prestigious painter award” four times. He has been inducted into four “halls of fame” and has had his cars in most of the biggest automotive museums in the country, including the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn and the Peterson Museum in Los Angeles. His cars have also been taken all over the world, with the most recent trip being to Yokohama, Japan.
He has also been fortunate enough to have had many of his cars on major magazine covers such as Hot Rod, Streetrodder, Car Craft, Rodders Journal, Rod & Custom and Hot Rod Deluxe. He has been featured in hundreds of magazines and in many books. Shuten has also appeared on a number of TV shows, including CNBC’s “Jay Leno’s Garage.” Shuten will even be featured in a TV show called “Galpin Auto Sports,” which is expected to air on the Discovery Channel sometime next year.
“I’m still not sure how it feels to be doing a show for Discovery Channel,” he said. “I’ll never get used to seeing myself on TV.”