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Thursday, 18 December 2014 00:00

EB-CAA Model Truck Customization Event Back in a Big Way

After a one-year hiatus, the California Autobody Association’s East Bay (EB-CAA) chapter hosted its 16th annual Toys for Tots Model Truck Customizing Competition on Nov. 18 at Zia Freddo’s in Pleasant Hill, CA. With close to 200 East Bay CAA chapter members and friends in attendance for the dinner, raffle, and truck competition, the evening was filled with holiday cheer and philanthropy.

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Ten East Bay body shops, local vendors and auto repair school programs entered the competition. Each was given an identical Nylint die-cast truck to modify and customize for the contest. First place went to the College of Alameda and the People’s Choice award went to TGIF Auto Body in Fremont, CA for a truck that was described as a ‘BBQ on wheels’, perfect for grilling s’mores and more, according to Kathy Mello, the shop’s owner.

“These truck renovations are amazing, because they’re actually works of art,” Mello said. “We get excited every year coming up with new ideas for our next truck creation. Everyone in the shop gets involved and that’s why it’s so special. This year’s truck was beautiful, plus is has a function, which gives it that wow factor.”

The Educational Best-of-Class award, given to the best truck entered by an educational institution, went to the College of Alameda, which also captured first place overall. By converting the model into a stunning tow truck with a vehicle atop the bed, this stunning creation received major kudos from the school’s customized truck. Second place went to TGIF and third place went to Accurate Auto Body in Richmond, CA.

Bill Andrews, an instructor at the College of Alameda is proud of the way his students stepped up with their winning truck. Along with the school’s paint instructor Peter Ha, this winning creation got oohs and aahs all night long. 

“Our students put more than 30 hours into that truck and we were working on it right up until the deadline,” Andrews said. “It’s a ramp truck with a model of a 1955 Chevy Nomad in the bed and the paint really makes it stand out. Miranda German-Xicana Meyers spearheaded the building and painting of the vehicle and Efrain Gonzalez did the metal fabrication. Ernie Eugenil, one of our other students won the evening’s big raffle prize—a 70” TV. So it was definitely a big night for the College of Alameda!”

 The CAA East Bay chapter also gives several educational institutions money for their auto repair programs, derived from the sales of each customized truck. This year, Contra Costa College, Mission Valley ROP, and the College of Alameda all received grants from the CAA East Bay chapter.

“We want to support these schools in any way we can, because they’re the future of this industry,” Chapter President Tiffany Silva explained. “There is a shortage of qualified, well-trained body techs all over the country right now, so we want to help them, so that we can hire them when they’re ready to enter the field. The CAA East Bay chapter has always been an outstanding supporter of these programs so we’re always happy to see all of the schools represented here. The students always get into designing and building these model trucks, and every year we see more and more top entries from the schools involved.”

Mike Govette, branch manager for Finish Master in Concord, has been organizing the Toys for Tots Model Truck Customizing Competition since its inception. 

“This is our chapter’s signature event, so having it back is a big deal,” Govette said.  “We weren’t able to do the event last year, because we couldn’t find enough of these Nylint die-cast trucks to customize. But, we found a source eventually, so we’re back on the right track. It’s important for us to get together around the holidays as a chapter, but reaching out and helping people in need is really the most important part of this evening. The truck from the College of Alameda was exceptional and the students really impressed everyone with that truck. Seeing so many students here was impressive, because they’re the future of our industry.”

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