For Duane Mayer, the American dream started with a 1967 Chevelle Malibu street machine in his garage at the age of 16, never imagining the hot rod-lined road in his future.
Raised in Beloit, Wisconsin, Duane’s restoration of cars started as a hobby. Taking frequent trips to the nearby Byron and Great Lakes Dragways, Duane attended the street drags and car exhibits, both as a participant and spectator. Expanding his exposure to hot rods, Duane planned a trip to California where he attended a car show that presented him with the opportunity to meet Boyd Coddington, one of the most sought-after custom car builders in the world.
Like many, Duane was impressed with the caliber of Coddington’s work and it wasn’t long before Duane had commissioned a build from Coddington, not knowing that it would eventually lay the foundation for his future in the industry. After flying back to pick up his truck from Coddington, Duane decided it was time to put his talents in gear and relocate to Southern California.
Duane began building hot rods with Boyd Coddington in 1985 upon his arrival to Orange County. Duane took a hiatus from Coddington’s, working with Chuck Lombardo at California Street Rods and then opening up a shop of his own. A little over a decade later, Duane found himself back with Coddington, embarking on the new adventure of reality TV. The reality series “American Hot Rod” ran on the Discovery Channel from 2004 to 2008 while Duane was shop manager, affording the opportunity to build several innovative cars such as “Alumatub”, a ’61 Impala Bubbletop, ’63 Chevy Corvette Stingray, ’42 Woodie, and, most notably, “CadZZila” for ZZ Top.
With the unparalleled knowledge that comes from working with the industry’s best and a passion for custom car builds, Duane stepped out onto his own in 2009 with the opening of American Hot Rods, now one of Southern California’s premier hot rod facilities. He continues to establish himself throughout the custom-built and hot rod community, taking joy in doing the work that he loves.