Tom Kelly was just one of the special guests at the Sydney Hot Rod and Custom Auto Expo in Sydney this year and happily took the stage to talk fondly about his influences. Here’s a small extract of what he had to say…

“My grandfather was the Barron. He got me started. He used to stripe for Studebaker on wagons and buggy’s when he started and then he striped for Ford for 25 years. In the early 50s when Von Dutch brought back the type of striping we are doing today, I got him to do my friends car. I would do all the weird stuff on the dash. We started a business and he would pick me up from school every day and we would go and stripe cars. I was 13 at the time and got to do all the crazy stuff like hands coming up through the stomach holding a heart with blood dripping down. They liked the weird stuff. I cut my teeth on airbrushing T shirts painting 35 to 40 every day.”

“We were doing an exhibition scalloping a car and I was getting ready to stripe it. Von Dutch was in the audience. He was a cranky kinda guy and yells out ‘copy cats’. My grandfather always wore a white smock and derby hat and carried a pair of 9” shears in his pocket. He hopped over the fence and chased Dutch right out of that show. That was the last time I ever saw him and he never called us copy cats again as my grandfather had been doing it long before him.”

Check out the full coverage of the show in Cruzin #203, on sale now. Grab it at your local, or order online at www.drivebuy.net.au.

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