In the Shop: Goolsby Customs

Let’s Take a Look Around the Latest Builds From the Hueytown, Alabama, Shop

By Tommy Lee Byrd

Known as the “5th Avenue Special,” this beautifully finished 1932 Ford sedan shows off the traditional side of Goolsby Customs.
Eddie has the daunting task of straightening the long panels on this Dodge A108 van. This is a special build that will get tons of attention, thanks, in part, to a Roadster Shop chassis, 6.4L modern Hemi, big Wilwood brakes, and dual Vintage Air systems.

There was once a time when nearly all street rodders were young guys. The old guys were restoring Model As and the young guys were chopping the top and installing a hopped-up engine. Time has passed rather quickly, and the age bracket of the average street rodder has shifted into “old guy” territory. This makes the young guys who are currently in the hobby really standout, especially when they produce top-notch work. And while Jonathan Goolsby, owner of Goolsby Customs, has more than 15 years of experience under his belt, he injects fresh ideas into the hobby with each new build that rolls out of the Hueytown, Alabama, shop.

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The same Plymouth Duster getting a final wipe down after an extensive build.
Still in the rolling chassis stage, this 1932 Ford five-window is what Jonathan calls a true hot rod. He said it will be fenderless and have a rowdy 409 for horsepower.
While Jonathan is a body man and painter by trade, he’s leaving the body alone on this Chevy C10 pickup. The patina is just right, so it’s being preserved for the perfect look. Under the truck is a Roadster Shop chassis with horsepower from a new LT4.

Jonathan started slow and steady, but his passion for the hobby was anything but small. He got started in circle track racing where he became experienced with repairing and repainting the bodies after a harsh weekend of racing. He then started painting passenger cars and eventually went to work at a local dealership, while hammering on hot rods at his home garage. After a few years, Jonathan and his wife, Vonda, decided to step full force into hot rods and custom cars and opened Goolsby Customs. The business has grown consistently through the years, and now comprises  a giant shop with 10 employees and a long line of happy customers.

Alex uses the bead roller to add some strength and style to an otherwise-flat sheet of steel. In the background is a giant Yoder power hammer, a machine that was built in the ’40s and has never left the state of Alabama.
One of the shop’s specialties is tasteful details, inside and out. This particular project is getting an upgrade to the LS Classic Series by Lokar. Jeremy carefully installs the system, which gives this modern engine the look of vintage Corvette fuel injection.

Jonathan credits much of the shop’s success to the one-on-one marketing that naturally happens at shows. The relationships built during those events creates long-term business partners. Goolsby Customs works closely with the Roadster Shop, Baer Brakes, Billet Specialties, BASF, and others to cross promote the brands and create some truly special machines.

Another patina project is this square-body Chevy Blazer. This one features a Roadster Shop chassis, air suspension, and an LS engine—hard to beat that combination!
Sitting on a set of Guniwheel rollers, this 1969 Ford Mustang Mach 1 is getting the full Goolsby treatment. Underneath is a Roadster Shop chassis and power will come from a Roush-prepared Coyote engine.
Another high-end muscle car at Goolsby Customs is this 1969 Camaro. It came into the shop, banged up from an accident. It turned out to be the perfect time for a full rebuild. It has an LS swap, but will utilize and original style cowl induction hood and air cleaner.

The shop currently has a mixture of street rods, classic trucks, and muscle cars under the knife. Goolsby Customs often incorporates modern flavor into its builds, with late-model engines and trick suspension, but the shop also builds traditional hot rods with a keen eye for period-correct details.

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The clean area at the shop houses completed projects. In the foreground is the “5th Avenue Special” 1932 Ford and a classic Ford Bronco, with a Dodge Challenger and Volkswagen Beetle hiding in the background.

The diversity of projects speaks volumes of Jonathan’s capabilities as a fabricator and painter, but also as an owner and operator of a business that’s cranking out high-end jobs on a regular basis. Goolsby Customs handles scratch builds, as well as small repairs and upgrades, so there is a steady flow of awesome projects in and out of the shop. Let’s take a look at some previous builds, current projects, the facility, and a few of the employees at Goolsby Customs. MR

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