Hot rod shop ready to open

A one-stop shop for hot rod enthusiasts is relocating from Airdrie to the outskirts of Red Deer.

A one-stop shop for hot rod enthusiasts is relocating from Airdrie to the outskirts of Red Deer.

Hot Rods Inc. will operate in Gasoline Alley, on the east side of Hwy 2. Owner Chris Aldrich expects to open by the end of April.

The business will carry or can source everything needed to rebuild, repair, recondition, improve the performance of or customize a vehicle. It will also do in-house builds, with a 1932 Ford roadster assembled entirely from parts obtained or fabricated by Hot Rods Inc. already on display in its showroom.

Aldrich said his new premises, which were the home of Gasoline Alley Harley-Davidson before that motorcycle dealership moved to a new building further north, are ideal. They will allow him to triple the size of Hot Rods Inc.’s showroom and boost its retail offerings.

The goal, he explained, is to serve the needs of extreme hot-rodders as well as those with a more casual interest in their vehicles.

“We want to build a retail environment for everybody.”

Another appeal of the Gasoline Alley site is its proximity to Hwy 2.

“We’ve got 75,000-plus cars a day coming by here,” said Aldrich.

Despite an increased focus on retail sales, Hot Rods Inc. will continue to do custom builds, as well as performance enhancement work, vehicle servicing, out-of-province inspections and other projects. In addition to having connections with a broad range of suppliers, the business will fabricate parts in its shop.

Aldrich thinks Central Alberta will be a great market for Hot Rods Inc. The hot rod community here is an active one, and he’s confident its members will appreciate a place where they can go for help.

“Most guys who are building a car or wanting to do something don’t want to spend all their time sourcing parts out. They want to be able to come in, shop and pick up the part.”

Its move north should also enable Hot Rods Inc. to serve a broader area, including customers in Edmonton.

“In Airdrie we were more polarized to the Calgary market,” said Aldrich.

Looking ahead, he plans to develop a mail-order business to supply the needs of hot-rodders elsewhere, and would even like to franchise the Hot Rods Inc. model.

Operating with a staff of about 10, the family business also involves Aldrich’s wife Heather and their daughter Jessica. The couple live in Sundre and have a summer home in Sylvan Lake.

“I always liked Red Deer,” said Aldrich, adding that he has long seen the business potential of Gasoline Alley. “I thought, ‘This is a perfect location for a hot rod shop.’”

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