Tom Chafin of South Gate, California was a talented custom car builder. Over the years Tom's last name has been misspelled a lot, and Chaffin is the most commonly used. Tom, and a friend named Homer, moved from Steubenville, Ohio to South Gate sometime around 1964. In Southern California they both went to work at the General Motors Assembly plant in South Gate.
Bob Huffman used to hang out at Harvey's Broiler on Firestone Blvd in Downey. He met Tom at Harvey's, and the two became good friends. At the time, Tom's 1963 Buick Riviera was chopped, fit with hydraulic lifts and painted in a Rainbow Metalflake. Tom had become friend with a guy who ran a one man body shop on Almeda Street, and that was where Tom had restyled and painted the Riviera. After buliding the Riviera, Tom's car became a consistent trophy winner, and it even took the 1966 Custom Car of the Year Award at the Los Angeles Motorama.
One day Tom went to see George Barris at Barris Kustoms in Hollywood. George saw the talent Tom had, and he hired him on the spot. While working for George, Tom opened up his own shop in Huntington Park, next to Dick & Ron's Custom. It was at this shop that he and Bob Huffman started to restyle the Harry Bradley designed version of Bob Huffman's 1965 Chevrolet Impala in October of 1967. According to Bob, Tom didn't advertise his business with a sign on the wall. He's also sure he didn't have a business card made or anything like that. Back then most people paid cash.
Tom repainted his Riviera Pearl Blue before he sold it to a fellow named Kenny. After Kenny had bought the Buick, he hired Tom to rebuild it. The restyled version was featured in Rod & Custom May 1969.
Tom Chafin's Cars
Tom Chafin's 1963 Buick Riviera
Cars Restyled by Tom Chafin
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