Craftsman’s Corner: “Dan Gogh” And The Road To AMBR

We’re starting a reoccurring column here on Rod Authority celebrating the builders responsible for keeping our beloved car hobby alive and kicking.  Whether they build their own cars or work their magic on a mega-build for some rich guy, the painters, pinstripers, bodymen and “Driveway DaVinci’s” are the guys creating many of the cars we love.  We acknowledge them and realize that many times they don’t get the recognition they deserve. Let’s kick off the series with an in-demand painter out of Southern California.

Vincent van Gogh was a Dutch Post-Impressionist painter. His landscapes, still lifes, portraits and self-portraits, characterized by bold colors and expressive brushwork, caused quite a bit of commotion in the art world.

“Dan Gogh” aka Dan Hansen is a American car painter. His custom sleds, hot rods and muscle cars, characterized by bold colors and expressive air brush work, are causing quite a bit of commotion on the custom car scene.

From his first project, a 1962 Cadillac owned by his dear old Grandma, to authoring the flawless finish on Bill Nash’s 1930 Ford debuting at GNRS this last January, Dan Gogh has quite a run going, and he’s just getting started.

A husband, father of two girls and owner of Dan Gogh Master Refinishing, a bustling autobody shop in Chatsworth, California. Not only do they offer excellent refinishing, but handle all aspects of design, fabrication and final build of custom cars as well.

His journey as a painter began when he was only 12 years old! After careful tutelage from his father Dave, Dan blossomed as an auto painter, apprenticing under some talented mentors.

Born in upstate New York, Dan’s aptitude as a painter showed up early. He was painting bikes, models and even rooms in the family home. This did not go unnoticed by his Dad, and when he became a terror around his hometown getting into fist fights, kicking up dirt and raising sand, the elder Hansen laid down the law.

Dan Gogh can paint on any four wheel canvas.

Dan recounts the story “My grandma lived in Salt Lake City and had a ’62 Cadillac that was promised to me in exchange for fixing it up. It was agreed I would go to Utah and work under body man and family friend Metro Foti, owner of New Image Body And Paint Refinishing as way to divert my attention. For the next two summers, I worked 15 hours a day with Foti and really learned a lot. I fixed up the Cadillac, Grandma gave it to me and I packed it up and returned home to upstate New York.”

A budding Dan Gogh. Here at 12 years old with Granny’s ’62 Cadillac…

Upon his return to upstate New York, Dan did another round at Number One Auto, where owner Kenny Grimm, taught Dan the soft skills of the trade, i.e. attracting and keeping a client base. Dan says “Kenny became a big part of my life as well.”

When Dan turned 21, he moved out to California and started his own detail shop and by the time he was 27 years old, he opened his own body shop on the outskirts of Los Angeles.

We ran into Dan at the Southern Polyurethane Paint’s booth at this year’s Grand National Roadster Show in Pomona, California, where he brought his 1986 Chevrolet G10 Van, rolling on Supreme mags, whitewalls and sporting a deep blue metal flake finish. Not what you’d expect to see at such a “serious” show, especially in Central Hall.

It killed.

Not only were we walloped by the utter coolness of the build, but the laser straight body work, paisley interior, foot deep paint and custom pinstriping really knocked us out.

Dan recounts how he found the old Bow Tie bread box. “I spotted the van out front of an apartment complex near my house and after a futile first attempt, I circled back 6 months later and ended up buying it…”  It was used as a produce truck and had the usual nicks and dents, but the body was straight and rust free and under Dan’s schooled eye, the transformation commenced.

The only thing missing is Shaggy and Scooby Doo, but with these two beauties holding down the fort, who cares?

It was an enormous amount of work.  Dan said, “It was like painting it three times. Base, metal flake and layer upon layer of clear. Grant at LG Pinstriping did the artwork on it and it really turned it out great.”  Dan handpicked the paisley curtain upholstery at Joann Fabrics, and swathed the interior with it from stem to stern. It turned out to be the perfect, period touch.

A mere 20 feet way from the “Dan Gogh Van,” at the Pomona Fairplex, was Bill Nash’s AMBR contender, a 1930 Ford Roadster, also wearing a Dan Gogh paint job. This was a great juxtaposition of Dan’s talents, a super cool, whimsical van and a very serious entrant in the most prestigious show in the country.

Built by Warren Boughs’s Precision Hot Rods in Northridge, California, the 1930 roadster was built for owner Bill Nash of Los Angeles. Sporting a built 383ci Chevy small block fed by dual Edelbrock carbs, semi-custom frame with’32 rails, Halibrand Champ quick change rear end coil-overs and red leather interior by Albert Laura.

Of course, the body and all undercarriage components including the frame, floor, brakes and belly pan, handled by Dan Gogh  and won the AMBR “Best Undercarriage” award at the 2018 GNRS. Kudos, to Nash, Precision Hot Rods and Dan Gogh for the prestigious award.

What’s The Latest Thing Cooking With Dan Gogh?

About ten years ago, Dan saw a 1953 Cadillac at a mini truck show all dolled up rat rod style, and was hooked.  He found a similar ’53 for sale in Wisconsin, snatched it up and had it shipped to Cali.

He’s just now getting around to finishing it and hopes to have it done this year. “I’ve had the car a long time, but life got in the way…The idea was to build semi-nice, and drive it around,” recounts Dan.

From there, as often happens, the scope of the project “crept” with Dan performing all the work. The top’s been chopped 2 1/2 inches, he shaved the rockers, locks and door handles, T-Bird rear seats, Monte Carlo swivel bucket seats, as well as most every panel has been being “touched.”  The car’s running an 5.3 LS V8 from a 2003 Cadillac Escalade and runs on a C-notched, factory chassis with a with a Art Morrison rear suspension with airbag links and Z’d lower control arms up front, all the better to “lay frame” according to Dan.

The body will be finished off in what Dan calls “Organic” green, a pearlescent white top–with real abalone shell sparkle–and new baseball-mitt colored leather interior.  Stay tuned to Rod Authority for the latest on this crazy Caddy build.

From a bodyshop apprentice to winning awards at at the the most prestigious car show in the world, Dan Gogh is living the dream.  His story is a testament to fatherly love, the importance if apprenticeships–especially for young men–and hard work. A copious amount of talent didn’t hurt either.

When the Cadillac showed up in Dan’s small east coast town–with him behind the wheel–it cemented his rep as the coolest dude in town. ‘Natch.

About the author

Dave Cruikshank

Dave Cruikshank is a lifelong car enthusiast and an Editor at Power Automedia. A zealous car geek since birth, he digs lead sleds, curvy fiberglass, kustoms and street rods. He currently owns a '95 Corvette, '76 Cadillac Seville, '99 LS1 Trans Am and big old Ford Van.
Read My Articles

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