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Q&A with Jeff Karls

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At what point in your life did you realize you loved street rods?

There was no certain “point”. I was born into a Street Rodding family. My parents, Ron & Pam Karls, had a car dealership & upholstery shop when I was a kid. We dealt mainly in street rods & customs. We had dozens of rods from the earliest I can remember until my dad died when I was eight.

What is your favorite memory growing up around cars?

The first time I went to California in the Sedan Delivery. I was five. We drove out and hit Andy’s Picnic and the ‘83 Super Run on the way. When we finally got to the ocean in San Diego, I begged to wade in the water. Naturally, I was knocked down by a wave and got soaked in sea water. Dad was so pissed. We drove part way to LA with my pants hanging out the window to dry out.

Tell us the history of Looney Tunes.

My dad & mom built Looney Tunes (’46 Ford Delivery) from 1980-83. We vacationed in and attended a lot of Rod Runs from 80-85 with Looney Tunes. It was an ISCA International Class Champion and Street Rodder magazine feature car. In ’85, when my dad wanted to finish his new project, a ’34 Chevy Town Sedan, he sold the Delivery to Bob Bauder in California. About a year later, my dad passed away. Many years went by and the Delivery resurfaced in Weirton, West Virginia, virtually unchanged, except for lots more miles. After many conversations with its new owners and 28 years, my wife Jenny & I brought it back home on our honeymoon in 2013. We’ve since been to California in it again and helped create lots of Rod Run memories for our kids, like the ones I have from my childhood. See full story here.

How have you influenced your children to share your passion?

The immersion method that worked on me has seemed to influence them a bit. My two older kids grew up behind a split-windshield or steel dash of some sort and have each spent their fair share of time in the garage. My oldest son Jonny (17) has a ’93 GMC two-wheel drive shortbox that we lowered (a lot) and he has plans of a re-paint and a fresh drive-train. My daughter Kaitlyn (16) has an ’04 beetle convertible that she won’t let me lower (because, in her words, “Jonny’s truck rides like a shopping cart”) I think I have her talked into wheels at least – and I’m totally gonna lower it too. My youngest, Max (3) has already been warped with a custom built pedal-stroller. Max regularly hangs out in the garage with me “working on Daddy’s broken car” which is a ’67 Chevelle.

What's your dream project car?

I don’t have one. I like taking abandoned projects or ugly cars and helping them realize their full potential. I like the challenge of working within the confines of economically restyling and improving a car that no one else wanted… Then selling it and starting over.

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