The custom car and truck scene in Southern California is rich with history and variety. On any given day, sightings of low rides of all kinds are not rare. One shop in particular that has been doing their fair share of crafting road-worthy beauties of all makes and models is Hoppo's Custom Suspension Works in Ontario, California. For nearly two decades, this small but lethal group has been staying on the full-time grind, and is picking up speed with each flip of the calendar page.
Read up as we talk to Art Tuason—the big cheese at Hoppo's about all things custom.
Mini Truckin: We've heard the name for years, but tell us how/when Hoppo's got started.
Art Tuason: Hoppo's technically started out of my garage in 1984—those were the good ol' minitruckin days. I started lowering VW Bugs and minitrucks, and from there I started expanding into hydraulics and dump beds. The “law” had a problem with me running a business out of my home garage, so I moved into a legit shop space in 1989.
MT: You've definitely come a long way since then. For those who don't know, what is your specialty?
AT: Our specialty is custom suspension systems—air ride, hydraulics, four-links, full chassis builds, and one-off fabrication. We also have a full CNC machine shop that runs six days a week.
MT: Yeah we couldn't help but notice your new machinery. What are you working with?
AT: We have a full in-house machine shop that consists of two engine lathes and one CNC. We have a three-axis mill and a CNC operated mill too, a CNC plasma cutter, a CNC-controlled tube bender, along with our faithful ironworker benders. The machines are always going, and we're always making new hydro products and airbag brackets.
MT: Now that's impressive. You guys have two S-10 frames in the works, one in particular that has been to a few shows already. Can you tell us more about them?
AT: We actually have six full-custom frames in the works, but the red S-10 frame that we've been taking to shows belongs to Gabe from Ground Control. It's boxed, molded, completely back halfed with a step notch and three-stage dancing bed all on air. It's candy powdercoated and pinstriped to match. Every suspension component, including every single nut and bolt, has been chromed or powdercoated. We built the tubular A-arms in-house with our CNC bender. The frame is very detailed.
MT: It's gorgeous. Well, a lot of people seem to associate Hoppo's as being a lowrider-only shop. Please prove them wrong.
AT: Everyone is quick to call us a lowrider shop. We don't dedicate ourselves to any one style of vehicle. We build anything the customer wants. We build clean, Hoppo's style cars and trucks, and we put the same amount of detail and cleanliness into everything we work on.
(Left to Right) Alex, Brian, Art Jr., Art Sr.
MT: So who all makes up the Hoppo's staff?
AT: We currently have six full-time employees along with a few part-timers. I run the shipping and receiving department, and oversee our wholesale accounts. My son Alex is head installer/welder, CNC programmer, and takes care of all the fabrication needs in the back. Eric is our main mechanic and all-around installer—there isn't a thing he can't do. Brian is a lead installer and his highly knowledgeable of older vehicles, and Bill runs our machine shop. And last but not least is our head of security that keeps everyone in line—Tank the Chihuahua.
MT: You have a great crew, that's for sure. So what's on the horizon for Hoppo's?
AT: Let's just say that 2013 is going to be a big year for us. We've already outgrown our new facility in Ontario and are looking to expand. Keep your eyes peeled for new air ride products and more of our work at shows.
MT: Glad to hear you guys are attacking the future with force. Well, thanks for the tour. Got any last words?
AT: Follow us on Facebook, we always have special deals for our fans. Everyone is welcome at the shop, so feel free to stop by anytime and check out the showroom.