*See more examples of the shop's work by clicking the photo gallery below
Go ahead and beat it like a dead pony car: word of mouth matters in this industry.
“Basically, what car guys do on weekends is get together at a car show and form a big circle, and then they start talking,” said Don Kasprzyk of Kasper’s Inside Rides. “If your shop has done one of them wrong, there’ll be 30 people talking about how you messed up an interior. So, I want to have them talking about the opposite and saying how good a job my shop did on an interior.”
Kasprzyk is the driving force behind Kasper’s Inside Rides, a thriving custom upholstery shop based in Waterford, Wisconsin. Kasprzyk tries to get ahead of car owners by taking a look at the cars they build, so he can put in an interior that matches the style of the car, he explained.
“Only about 10 percent of our business involves restoring an original interior,” Kasprzyk told THE SHOP. “A good 60 percent of our business is street rods and we also do a lot of things to muscle cars and trucks. We’re pretty much a custom interior shop and we’re the car builders’ last stop.”
According to Kasprzyk, people who build cars usually take care of bodywork, chrome plating and wiring first.
“A lot of times, they run into problems with those aspects, so what we try to do is to make upholstery the last stop and have it be a good experience for them,” he said. “We try to get it done on time and budget. We get it done in six to eight weeks, then we move on to the next job.”
Staying on a tight schedule is important for Kasper’s Inside Rides.
“A lot of shops will bring a custom car in and use it as fill-in work and focus on truck interiors or repairs most of the time,” Kasprzyk said. “We’re the opposite. The repairs are secondary, but because of that, we’ve got to turn a job around in under two months or we don’t get a big enough paycheck out of it.”
Kasprzyk said he uses a simple system to keep cars moving in and out of his relatively small 40-by-80-foot shop.
“We look at all interiors as being basically the same,” he said. “Whether it’s a ’32 Chevy or a ’40 Ford, you’re going to be doing a headliner, rear door panels, a rear seat, carpets, front door panels and a front seat. The hardest part is coming up with a suitable design for the car.”
Kasprzyk insists that each interior should be unique.
“I don’t want to be pigeon-holed,” he said. “I don’t want the guys in the circle saying, ‘Oh, that’s just another job that was done by Inside Rides—I can tell right away by looking at it.’”
Kasprzyk pointed to three cars parked near his stand at the recent NEW Motorama in Green Bay, Wisconsin.
“Look at those three,” he said, “and you’ll be hard pressed to tell they came out of the same shop, because each of those cars has its own interior styling.”
Kasprzyk looks at his customers as partners.
“I tell them, ‘You built this whole car and now you’re bringing it in for me to help you out, but I’m just your partner and we’ve go to do this together,’” he said. “I like to get their wife or girlfriend involved, too. That way, the lady gets some gratification in the end-product by knowing she helped pick out things, like materials and colors.”