At an early age Aaron Hamusek was spending a lot of time with his hot rodding father checking out car shows and automotive swap meets in the ’70s-era Southern California. Yes, he liked skateboarding and building scale model cars, but what he gravitated toward was customizing stuff like using rattle can spray paint jobs on his bicycles.
In his high school years Aaron was into metal fabrication, machining, and welding, and by the time he got his driver’s license he had already built a single-seat buggy with a two-stroke 618cc engine with a full Independent Rear Suspension and Independent Front Suspension setup. His first car (in high school) was a 1955 Chevy 210 with dual quads over a 327 to which he began milling aluminum parts for (about the same time Lil’ John Buttera was doing it for Boyd Coddington).
In 1986, he got a job at Danchuk (the Tri Five Chevy superstore) and worked there for 15 years before making a huge change by designing, fabricating, and building armored vehicles and a four-year stint maintaining Special Forces vehicles in Afghanistan and Jordan. By the 2009 economic downturn, Aaron found himself back in SoCal working as a mobile mechanic (even removing the passenger seat from his Honda Civic so he could carry his air compressor to appointments).
But even with a life that had presented him with many challenges, in 2017 he took the plunge and opened Orange County Hotrods in Huntington Beach, California, but soon moved the business to Corona (in neighboring Riverside County) and hasn’t looked back since. Though known for his skill and knowledge with Tri Five Chevys, Aaron has a wide field of vehicles in his shop on any given day, though you’ll always find a 1955 Chevy or two in his parking lot.
While we were visiting there were four Roadster Shop chassis in their wooden shipping crates in the parking lot waiting for their turn to be slipped under one of their customer’s rides, with Aaron commenting, “I like using them; they just work.” Chassis swaps happen to be very popular with his customers right now, including Jeff Thisted (one of the announcers for the Goodguys autocross competitions) who has posted videos on his YouTube channel of Orange County Hotrods swapping in a Roadster Shop SPEC chassis under his 1955 Chevy wagon.
Aaron’s passion for metal fabrication has carried over to the employees he has hired—all of whom are young fabricators in their own right, eager to learn and expand their own talents with the projects that roll through the hot rod shop. Whether it be small repair jobs or all-out, high-end builds, Aaron and his Orange County Hotrods team can make it happen.