With few exceptions, people today in any industry-”automotive or otherwise-”agree that the culture of both work and play is fluid and changing fast. The demands of modern family and social life, as well as professional responsibility, seem to grow by the day.
In that environment, regardless of profession, finding a balance between work, family, community and personal passions can be a struggle, to say the least.
For Springfield, Ill., brothers Dave Timm, 37, and Brian Walker, 51, though, that challenging balancing act is taken to a new level. In nearly every category, the brothers deal with more complexity than most folks.
On the personal side, their family lives each revolve around two children. For a good portion of each day, Timm and his wife, Anne, are dutifully raising two daughters, Makenzie and Madisyn. At the same time, Walker and wife, Lori, are busy raising two kids of their own, Jacob and Hannah.
While the two families aren’t uncommonly large, that’s merely the beginning. The dads go off to some remarkable fulltime jobs: Walker as a sergeant and Timm as a deputy with the local sheriff’s office, with Timm also serving as the primary breacher (read: knocking the down bad guys’ doors) on the local SWAT team.
In their lives as cops-”Walker on the night shift and Timm on the second shift-”the brothers spend time handling issues ranging from the mundane to the extraordinary, with some very real danger mixed in.
Add the occasional social and charitable organization and their related functions, and you can see how the better part of every day is conceivably already committed to these competing demands. All of which makes it even more surprising to learn about the brothers’ side project, or hobby: Building some of the finest project vehicles to grace the SEMA Show floor.
Passion Becomes Profession
The brothers’ passion for building custom show vehicles, which is garnering national acclaim in the industry under the fitting moniker of 2 Brothers Custom Trucks, dates back to a notable Monte Carlo and numerous lifted trucks in the 1980s for Walker, and the mid-1990s for Timm via an unlikely vehicle: a 1996 Dodge Neon.
“Back in ’96, I bought a fun little car, a Dodge Neon, and at the time I honestly knew nothing about custom vehicles,” says Timm. “When I bought that car, I literally had to pay someone to change out the spark plugs.”
Like so many custom car enthusiasts, the purchase ignited in Timm a passion for all things custom. Before long, he was logging long hours learning about the myriad ways to modify the vehicle.
“To make a long story short, we ended up creating a great little car, and it happened to be the first supercharged Neon in existence,” he says.
That first vehicle went on to grace the pages of a number of leading performance magazines, includingTurbo, Super Street and Sport Compact Car, and garnered Timm and his brother a great deal of attention both locally and nationally. That, in turn, led to referral after referral and eventually, in the fall of 2006, inspired the brothers to incorporate as 2 Brothers Custom Trucks.
“What honestly started as nothing more than a hobby back in the ’90s has just been booming ever since,” says Timm. “Today, we customize in the range of 50 vehicles for local dealerships each year and generally produce a show vehicle each year as well.”
Blending Old and New
While their daily work expediting for dealerships ranges the entire gamut of vehicle types and makes, their project and show vehicles over time have developed a consistent and well-received theme: blending old and new by incorporating modern performance and power into classic vehicles.
“It makes sense that we would end up with that style,” says Timm. “My passion has been on the modern, late-model vehicles part of the industry, and my brother’s style has always been more toward classics. He’s old school, and I’m new school. When we combine those two, you get a distinct type of vehicle.”
That approach of blending modern muscle with classic vehicles arguably reached maturity in one specific project for the 2011 SEMA Show. For the event, 2 Brothers Custom Trucks started with a 1960 Ford F-100 pickup with a standard 292-ci Y-Block Ford engine, bored out to 320 ci and fitted with twin Turbonetics turbos and dual Holley EFI carbs. All that power is fed through a Tremec T56 Magnum transmission and Centerforce clutch.
The custom chassis, built by Timm, rides on Heidts suspension, IFS up front and four link in the rear. Wilwood brakes hide behind possibly the most impressive feature of the slammed ride: huge 24-inch custom Raceline two-piece billet wheels, 24×9 in front and 24×15 in the rear.
A custom bed was built to accommodate the rear wheels with a clear 1/2-inch Lexan floor and custom tubs to accommodate the wide rear wheels. After adding a spray of BASF Tantalizing Turquoise, the end result was a show-stopper, drawing huge crowds around a prime placement on the SEMA Show floor.
Not content with that hugely successful build, 2 Brothers is currently building a new project that Timm believes will surpass even the F-100: a ’32 Ford Roadster that will continue on the company’s legacy of blending classic and modern.
“It’s hard to be different with a Roadster; it’s just been done many times and very well in the past,” he says.
To innovate, the brothers are loading the Roadster with a new LS 5.3-liter motor, again with twin Turbonetics GTK turbos, Auto Meter gauges and Raceline wheels, 22-inch in the rear and 20-inch up front. The vehicle will ride on Heidts suspension and will incorporate a 9-inch Ford rear end, a pounding Kicker audio system and custom TEA’s Design seats.
“This one will be great,” says Timm. “We’re going back to the early history of the hot rod and adding our modern touches to it. It’s going to be all bright red, polished chrome, with massive horsepower. It’s the best of today’s technology and reliability, with touches of the classic and old.”
And the story behind the vehicle adds an extra dimension of meaning, as well. The brothers purchased the vehicle from Walker’s uncle, Jim Walker, who passed away from cancer.
“Brian bought it at the stage that Jim left it, but it wasn’t very sexy,” he says. “We’re doing some amazing things with it, and it’s going to mean a lot to us. We’re really building it for Jim, and that’s a big responsibility.”
Both with 2 Brothers Custom Trucks’ daily dealership work and with show vehicles, the brothers have been wildly successful by staying true to their authentic nature. They pride themselves on living a little differently than most custom builders.
To start, they live in rural Illinois, just a stone’s throw apart from each other. Their 36-by-64-foot, five-bay shop resides between their homes.
“We’re extremely lucky to have been given the opportunities we have with building vehicles, but that luck also comes from working extremely hard and always following through on our commitments,” says Timm. “It is luck, but it’s also how my brother and I were raised. We don’t have that stereotypical splashy retail storefront that many of our project customers expect. Instead they get two guys who have tattoos up and down each arm, who spent our whole life in the gym because of our day jobs and we’re both the type to just tell it like it is when it comes to interacting with the customers.
“I look at me and my brother as just two nobodies out in the country, but because of the way we handle our work and deliver a unique style, we keep getting presented with cool new opportunities, and I love that,” he adds. “I mean, just the fact that we’ve been able to go to SEMA and be a part of that since our first show truck in 2004-”we’re thrilled to just be a part of it. There certainly are many builders out there who are more experienced or have a higher profile, but we take great pride in doing what we say and never overextending ourselves to the point that we can’t deliver. That keeps our sponsors on our side and that provides us with great opportunities.”
Connecting to the Passion
With their dedication to serving their project vehicle sponsors and dealer customers, in addition to their families and work protecting their community, things can at times get overwhelming. But being able to contribute makes it all worthwhile, says Timm.
“There are some days when it is beyond overwhelming and I’ve been close to throwing in the towel,” he says. “It can be really hard on our wives and kids at times, and I regret that. But there’s just something about this work that has become a true passion. When you see that SEMA Show floor, the excitement ropes you back in.”
Timm says he’s even considered making 2 Brothers Custom Trucks his full-time gig. If it weren’t for the unpredictable nature of the economy and the automotive industry, he would have already.
“My passion is custom vehicles. I know that,” he says. “I love being a cop and being able to serve my community, but if I knew I had builds for the future and was going to be able support my family, I would consider it. But you just never know.”
One thing is certain, however. In whatever form, either as police officers or as custom builders, Timm and Walker will find creative ways to push their work forward and find ways to give back. Case in point: the company is planning its first car, truck and motorcycle show for 2013.
The profits from the event will go to benefit the St. John’s Children’s Hospital in Springfield. The brothers plan to stream live video of the event to the children staying at the hospital and will hand-deliver show T-shirts to the patients inside. Then they’ll stream live video of the presentation back down to the show, so attendees can get a sense of the impact they’re having.
“My brother and I are fortunate to have healthy children,” he says. “We have turned a hobby into a business that has provided us with the ability to do something special for others who need it more than most will ever know. This show is an opportunity to make others aware of what the St. John’s Children Hospital is and what they do for so many. We hope this show is a success and continues to grow each year.”
With that community-minded mentality, it’s likely that this project, like so many others in the brothers’ lives, will take off as well.