Amidst the rows of warehouse-type buildings here in Murrieta, California, there are all sorts of interesting businesses and companies around us. Directly behind us here at PowerTV is a friend of ours, Rocky Nash, who recently invited us in for a chat and to check out his street rod collection.
Rocky started driving competitively when he was just a kid. He raced go-karts for a few years when he was 10 years old, and at 16 he started racing at local dirt and paved ovals. His first hot rod was a 1955 Chevy Pickup that he got when he was about 15 years old.
That pickup is what started him on a seemingly endless parade of more than 350 hot rods that he has owned throughout his life. He gives a slightly higher number, but asked that we don’t quote him on it because he lost count. To say Rocky has owned a few cars in his lifetime is like saying Dale Earnhardt had a few top ten finishes.
Rocky raced modified and dirt modified for a while, and raced on the Winston Southwest Series up until 2001. An accident at the track convinced him it was time to stop racing and focus more on his car collection and his wife, Sherri, agreed.
As you walk in the front door, you get a strong inclination that Rocky is into cars. The comfortable looking lounge has a big screen TV, and on the walls are several plaques and awards that have words like “Best of Show” and “First Place” on them.
Some of the awards have photos of his winning car, and many of the awards were won at shows where you aren’t even allowed in unless you have a show-worthy car. We’ve all been to weekly car shows and cruises where the ‘come as you are’ awards are somewhat generic, so these awards have some clout to them and aren’t given out by people who are trying to keep things ‘fair’.
On a table in the lounge you will find dozens of various sized trophies and awards, and you wonder if Rocky can remember which car won which award because there are so many to take in. The inscriptions on the trophies read like the plaques: “Best of Show”, “First Place”, “Best in Class”, etc. These awards mean business: they are the kind that indicate ownership of a “show car” rather than simply owning a car that you enter into a show. There is a difference.
He has a medium-size office to the right with a typical desk scattered with papers and notepads, and even more awards. Above the desk is a large picture window that looks out into the warehouse area known as “Rocky’s Hotrod Garage”.
Rocky’s Hotrod Garage
The lounge area quickly becomes a fading memory because you want to see what’s beyond the door leading to the garage. The trophies and awards are already overflowing the lounge; could there be more, you wonder? And there are more… lots more.
Walking through the doorway exiting the lounge, you’re met with a large, open garage area that is impressive, to say the least. Before you is a group of cars that are all trophy winners, and the sea of red and orange paint still looks wet. It’s hard to imagine one person owning all of these cars in such incredible condition, you have to admire each and every one of these cars for their brilliant paint, meticulous attention to detail and the overall cleanliness of the whole garage. They are all hot rods and street rods, and they’re all worthy of hanging with the big dogs. He said he has about 15 of these beautiful cars, but even as this was being written that number was changing yet again. As a matter of fact, it’s changed about three times since we first talked to Rocky about the Nomad.
It’s somewhat of a show car garage when you first take it all in. But the cars and the ambiance tell you that it’s really just a huge, bitchin’ man cave where Rocky likes to hang out during the day. It has all of the items needed for a man cave, too. There’s a fridge, some rollaway tool boxes, and a bunch of cars. Oh, and there are places to sit, but it’s hard to sit still in there without wanting to continually check out all the cool rides and ask questions about them.
Looking around this man cave, there are a couple of leather sofas just outside of his office where you can sit and talk about life, work and, of course, cars. On the opposite side of the garage is a small, round table with a couple bar stools, reminiscent of a 50’s diner or soda fountain, where we sat to talk.
1955 Chevrolet Nomad
Sitting at the table, behind us was his favorite car – an immaculate ’32 Ford three-window coupe that he says doesn’t get driven. The underside of it is as immaculate as the top side. Beside us was the car that he drives the most out of all his street rods and hot rods, a bright red 1955 Chevrolet Nomad. Although it’s driven only a couple times a month it has made it’s way to bigger venues like the Goodguys events in Del Mar, and he’s driven to the infamous Cruisin’ Grand in Escondido a couple times.
The Nomad is an original bodied, all steel car that still has all of the original stainless trim and the original sheet metal. Rocky says it has never been in an accident and there is no rust anywhere on the car. A look underneath it verifies his statement, as this car is cleaner underneath than many cars are up above. For a car that gets driven a couple times a month, it doesn’t show it anywhere. When we asked to do our photo shoot, he told us the keys were in it as he walked away to take a look at what we were working on in our shop. Not that he’s careless with his cars, but he’s just that kind of guy who gives you the same amount of respect that you give to him.
He’s running a somewhat modern power plant, a tuned-port 350ci small-block from a Camaro IROC-Z with a 700R4 overdrive transmission. A Chevy 10-bolt rearend sits up underneath the rear, and a pair of Magnaflow mufflers out back give it that hot rod sound that we all love so much.
The front suspension is primarily stock, sitting a couple inches lower on a pair of dropped spindles. The rear leaf springs have been dropped to match the front. Steering is done the old fashioned way, with a power steering gear box that he likes better than rack and pinion. For braking, he says he has plans for bigger brakes but is content with the GM disc brake set up that he says has always been dependable and trouble-free.
Inside the car, the tan leather and suede interior is very inviting and is as clean as the outside of the car. A Vintage Air AC unit keeps the cabin cool, and makes driving during the late summer months a lot more enjoyable.
Music is delivered through a 6 speaker Alpine Stereo system with all the latest technology for attaching an iPod or music source, including XM. The stereo resides in a custom-made console below the dash that houses the head unit. Looking through the billet steering wheel is the dash cluster trim and a full set of AutoMeter Gauges nestled behind the trim. The suede headliner is trimmed in stainless, and it’s impeccable. For a driver, this car doesn’t look like it gets touched because it’s so clean.
He’s running a set of Billet Specialties “Rat Tail” wheels wrapped with Nitto tires. He has P235/40/R18 tires in front and P275/35/R20 tires in the rear, giving this Nomad a very aggressive look but a great ride. The low profile tires make for a slightly rough ride, but they look great on the Nomad and fit well behind the sheet metal.
Rocky had traded his ’32 Ford for this Nomad, saying that his buddy just had to have the ’32 so Rocky obliged him. But he really likes the Nomad because, “You just can’t find good ones anymore, they’re all beat up or rusted out”, he says. This one was in such great shape, he couldn’t pass it up. The trade was done locally and Rocky’s happy with his end of the trade.
I like driving this one more than almost any new car, even that thing.
This may be his hobby and something he loves, but talking with Rocky you can tell that it’s definitely a passion for him. He tells you openly what he likes and dislikes about each of his cars, and even his latest acquisitions. It’s become routine, and none of the dislikes are negative, they’re general distinctions that he has acknowledged and accepted.
Each car seems to have it’s own little quirks and characteristics, but that’s what makes them all part of Rocky’s Hotrod Garage. And as long as he owns the car, it’s going to be sitting in a place that has anyone who visits shaking their head in amazement, and drooling as they leave. I guess you could say that Rocky’s love for these cars is like that tired old potato chip ad: he can’t have just one. Can you blame him?