Ronnie Perrin is owner and fabricator at Old Tin Rods in Elwood, Indiana. He used to work in information technology. Then he became part of the Road Kings Car Club and it was off to the races.
Why’d you start Old Tin Rods?
I started Old Tin Rods because of my passion for metal shaping, Model A’s, and other cars of the ’30s.
I knew there were many different styles of cars in the ‘20s and ‘30s. Getting body panels for a lot of them is not an option. With my abilities in metal shaping, I get to work on cars I would never dream of being able to locate, not much less afford, if I were doing this as a hobby.
How did you come to have such a love for metal shaping? Was there an ah-ha moment?
I have always enjoyed the cars that, for the most part, you cannot get panels for. I’d buy an aftermarket panel, only to have to rework it to make it fit or do what I wanted it to do, so I started making small panels from scratch. As I gained experience through the years, it just became easier to make larger panels. The more panels I build, the more more fun it gets.
Why these vehicles/this scene?
I simply have a passion for cars of the ‘20s and ’30s. There are many other cars up into the ’50s that I enjoy and even work on, but concentrating on these cars, I can really grow my experience and skills in the era that I really enjoy.
The people that drive a ‘20s to ‘30s hot rod are a breed of their own. Most I have met are great people that still dream of a better place and time when hard work, hot rodding, and racing really thrived.
What’s your ideal project look like?
My ideal project would be a ‘32 3-window body coming through the door with lots of metalwork needed. I love saving these old cars and very much enjoy watching the creativity of the owner as they take their body home to get started on their own dreams.
How do you approach new projects?
I listen to the customer on their thoughts and give them my thoughts. If the thoughts mesh I take the project on.
Building a hot rod has a lot to do with one’s vision. If the builder and customer have a common goal it is a lot easier to complete that task. There are many different style of hot rods, rat rods, etc.. Along with that, there is a builder out there with your vision, style, and goals in mind.
How have things changed — with the scene, with your business — since you started?
The scene hasn’t really changed for me. My scene is full of cool cars, my family, and fellow Road Kings C.C. members. I can always rely on that to stay consistent.
Clubs are family. Care to go on the record with why Road Kings CC is your family?
I have a great wife and two great children that mean the world to me. My fellow club members are the closest thing to me next to my immediate family. Here is a recent post I put on the Jalopy Journal. It’s a pretty good example of what my club means to me and the lengths I’ll go for its members.
What do you know now that you wish you knew then?
I am constantly trying to learn as much as I can about my field. If I had anything to change it would have been to really hang out and listen more to the older guys in this scene.
It seems everyday we are losing another great guy from the generation that started all of this. There is a wealth of knowledge out there regarding any number of things related to hot rods and racing and most of it is still in the hearts and minds of our elders.
What should we be doing to prepare the next generation of gearheads?
Get engaged with a good car club full of hot rodders. If requirements of the club are to have a car and you don’t have that kind of money — you still have options. Get your ass over there and mow, pull weeds, or whatever it takes to show them you are the young, hard working individual they need to keep the club going for years to come. If they’re the right club your hard work won’t go unnoticed.