Pinkee’s Rod Shop in Windsor, Colorado, has been turning out some great hot rods and kustoms that have won some of the most prestigious awards in the industry. Capturing the Ridler Award in 1998 with his 1933 Ford roadster, he was named Goodguys’ Trendsetter of the Year in 2001. The national accolades continued to pile in as owner Eric Peratt was named 2007 Grand National Roadster Show Builder of the Year. He is also a member of the Detroit Autorama Circle of Champions Hall of Fame. We caught up with Peratt in Colorado to inquire about the success of his team in recent years.
How long have you been in business, and how long have you been at your shop in Windsor, Colorado?
Eric Peratt: I started Pinkee’s Rod Shop in 1998. At that time I built a shop at our house in the mountains in Pine, Colorado – it was around 2,500 square feet. I got busy and felt like a location closer to Denver would be better. We originally built 5,000 square feet in 2004 thinking that would be plenty for years to come, but soon realized we were outgrowing the space. We added another 5,000 square feet 18 months later. We now have a showroom, office, art viewing room, machine shop area, fabrication area, and an assembly room.
How did you get into the hot rod, restoration, automotive business?
EP: My dad, Bill, was into hot rods when I was growing up so we would go to shows together and work on his cars. I went to college for an automotive service degree, got a job with GM and realized I wanted to start my own shop. While I was living in Illinois, I built a 1933 Chevy woodie in my garage and sold it. That gave me seed money and I was able to purchase equipment to get started.
How many employees do you currently have?
EP: We currently have eight, and fluctuate between eight and 10. Thomas is my machining guy – programs and runs the CNC machine and plasma. Joe and Justin have recently rejoined Pinkee’s, they are both fabrication specialists. The rest of the crew fabricates, and does chassis and wiring.
Do you “do it all,” or does Pinkee’s specialize in one thing in particular?
EP: We can “do it all,” but we specialize in metal fabrication and machining one-off parts. We build cars from the ground up, starting with a bare frame. We’ll leave paint and interiors to the experts, but other than that, we can do everything else.
Where did the name “Pinkee’s” come from … who came up with it, and why?
EP: I wore a pink polo in college and got nicknamed Pinkee. When I decided to open my own shop the name sounded better than a generic ‘Eric’s Hot Rods.’
How many cars, let’s say, “complete cars,” have you built? Ground up from bare frame?
EP: About 30. I started out with a 1934 Ford flatbed pickup that I built while I was in college. Upon graduation, I went to work for GM in Michigan, then got transferred to Illinois. While there, I built the 1933 Chevy woodie at home, starting only with the cowl section and fabricating the rest of the car around it. It was my first attempt at woodworking and it turned out well. I won a number of awards with the woodie and sold it. I took the money from the sale and purchased equipment to get the shop up and running. We then moved to Colorado and opened Pinkee’s.
I started a 1933 Ford roadster (the Comet) while in Illinois and finished it in Colorado. That car “put us on the map” as they say. It won the Ridler award in Detroit in 1998. ‘Knotwood’ was another notable car — a 1951 Ford wagon. It was originally a woodie, but we took the wood off the outside (hence the name). We added a full wood headliner inside the car and many one-off pieces that helped us earn Goodguys Custom Rod of the Year. Then there was ‘Loaded,’ a 1929 Ford roadster pickup. ‘Loaded’ was pretty much an all handmade pickup that most people remember. The deep Rooter color with a wood-slatted floor is reminiscent of an old Chris Craft wood boat with a beautiful copper tank. We have also been successful in the musclecar arena with a 1966 Ford Mustang and a 1968 Chevy Camaro, just to name a few.
Do you have a personal car, maybe a special hot rod that you enjoy taking to events?
EP: I have a 1940 Ford pickup that I drive across the country and to events. Currently, I am working hard on a 1929 Ford roadster that I hope to drive to events in the next year or two.
How many of the cars you’ve built have made it into major magazines (as feature cars)?
EP: We have been honored to be on the cover of The Rodder’s Journal with ‘Loaded’ and the ‘Federale Coupe.’ Also, we’ve had a feature in The Rodder’s Journal of Tom Kowalski’s 1941 Cadillac Coupe we completed.
We’ve also had a number of cover cars on Rod & Custom. Bill Peratt’s 1932 Ford Coupe; Royce Glader’s 1929 Roadster pickup, ‘Loaded,’ which was on twice: one time in bare metal and one time painted; John Kokoska’s 1933 Ford Roadster; Don Smith’s “Hem-rod;” the bright green 1932 Ford Tudor, which was on the cover twice as well, in bare metal and painted; Tom Kowalski’s 1952 Chevy and his 1932 Ford roadster; Royce Glader’s 1936 Ford cabriolet; and the 1933 Ford roadster called “The Comet.”
Are hot rods your main focus … or have ’50s and ’60s cars become bigger than rods?
EP: We do both, but throughout the years it has been more hot rods – about 75 percent — the other 25 percent are ’50s, ’60s and pro touring cars.
Where do you see yourself, and Pinkee’s, in the future?
EP: Taking our style of hot rodding to the next level.
You’re fairly young. How old are you, are you married, and do you have kids?
EP: I am 47, married for 22 years and we have one son, Hunter, who is 16. We spend a lot of time traveling with Hunter and watching him play hockey.
How long have you done the kick-off party for Goodguy’s?
EP: Since 2007. We have also been doing the Builder’s Choice awards at the Colorado Goodguys show since 2007.
What was your first car, and did you go rod-running with your dad when you were young?
EP: I had a 1964 Chevelle that I drag-raced at the High School Drags at Bandimere Speedway near Denver. Dad had a ‘46 Ford pickup at the time, and he and I would go to several rod runs every summer, including the NSRA nationals.
What was, and who owned your first “pro built” car?
EP: The 1933 Ford roadster that I talked about above, that car won the Ridler Award at the Detroit Autorama in 1998. Initially, I was building it as my personal vehicle, but near the end of the build, Ken Reister purchased the car and we finished it for him.
Your dad owns a ’32 Ford three-window, did you build it for him?
EP: Yes, we built the ’32 Ford and it won the Brizio family award at the Grand National Roadster Show. His car now has over 55,000 miles on it and he drives it cross-country every summer. The Peratt families (dad and son’s) love to take long distance trips.
In 2015, Pinkee’s was fortunate to win the Goodguys Hot Rod of the Year with Keith Hill’s ‘33 Ford three-window coupe, the Federale Coupe. It was also on the cover of the latest subscriber edition of The Rodder’s Journal who did a great feature on the car.
A very special thanks to Eric and his wife, Cristin, for taking time to answer our questions. If you desire an award-wining car, please consider contacting Pinkee’s, and check out the website: pinkeesrodshop.com