This story of Austin starts in the Miami beach area where he first cruised the beach on his motorized scooter, modified of course, then on to a Vespa before he eventually upgraded to the four-wheel wonder that came in the form of a Saturn SC2. The car boasted an astounding 124 horsepower and managed to displace all that power in a forward motion. Well, umm … actually, he had no choice because the car lost reverse gear long before he retired it.
Jokes aside, Austin comes from very humble beginnings where at the young age of 16 (circa 1999) he started working for an unknown builder at the time, Jeremy Miranda. He shadowed Miranda and was eager to learn. In fact, this is the first place young Austin would hold a welder and learn the trade.
After graduation he left this custom truck shop and enrolled in McFatter Technical Institution in South Florida, where he took courses to advance his welding skills. Subsequently, he took another job in the custom world, only this time it was working on custom motorcycles. He started there with a squad of young fabricators who took the Fort Lauderdale chopper shop to the next level. After a short time at Thunder Cycle, Austin left to start his own motorcycle shop where he became very successful in his own right.
Unfortunately, in the late 2000s, that bike market crashed, along with our own economy, and he found himself right back where he had started—Austin was back to building on cars and trucks. Thankfully for us this is where he found his niche and what brings us to feature his talents.
First up: “1 BAD Burban”
In this print you’ll see just two of his interpretations brought to you by the hands of Grind Hard Garage. Like a lot of builders, he is not alone to create these machines; Austin has two of the most talented fabricators I have seen. Justin Garner and Brad Burnett, both originally from Texas, are now transforming trucks in Florida and helping Grind Hard Garage get noticed.
Take this 1957 Chevy Suburban as the first example. Finished here in raw metal and personally my favorite way to view a project. With nothing to hide, you can take notice of the precise lines and customization queues. The basis for this project has always been to just make the baddest four-door Suburban ever built. This one isn’t even done and I would say they have already accomplished that feat. What really sets this Suburban apart from any other you’ve seen is the subtle changes you know are there but can’t quite uncover. Cleaning up the bumpers by narrowing them closer to the body and shaving all the hardware is just the start. This body is coach built; characteristics like lengthening the front doors, modifying the B and C-pillars to add scratch-built rear doors, and then making them hinge in suicide form is something not attempted by many. Additionally, the roof has been lowered and a minimalistic spoiler added to the rear, along with a lower diffuser integrated into the rear bumper. These mods are just a portion of the fabrication register for this Suburban.
The foundation of this large body comes in the form of a complete one-off chassis built by Roadster Shop. To confirm that this hotrod will be a great handling vehicle, the chassis was outfitted with both front and rear independent suspension and dampened by aluminum adjustable coilovers.
You can’t call it a hotrod without the right powerplant. Did you think the engine would be average? You would be wrong! The only thing rivaling the body fabrication is the engine fabrication. Outfitting a Redline Performance 441 cubic-inch LS with quad turbos only made sense when the engine was discussed. This mirror image turbo system is obviously an original Grind Hard Garage design that boasts several linear feet of titanium tubing throughout the engine bay that then merges as a four-into-two exhaust exited near the rear axle. One of the most challenging parts of this build fell on the radiator placement. If you look at the front end, you’ll notice two large intercoolers keeping the EGT’s low. Well, that left no room for a traditional cooling system, so the radiator was mounted to the rear of the truck just behind the suspension. A great example of solving modern problems with advanced solutions.
Rounding out the stance, quite literally, are the Kompression Wheels sized in a staggered 20×9 inches and 22×10 inches. They’ve been wrapped in Michelin Pilot’s coming in at 285/35-20 up front and a 305/35-22 on the rears. Tucked behind these beautifully cut wheels are the large diameter 14-inch Baer brakes.
Speaking with Austin and looking at his career and accomplishments has been a real privilege for me; but being able to relate to him through custom trucks was truly humbling. It turns out Austin is no different than many of us and found his inspiration from some of the greats of our time. He credits Jesse James and Monster Garage for lighting a fire for his automotive passion, and guys like Tom Nelson and Troy Trepanier for the design elements and innovation they have created.
Make no mistake, Austin has figured out a method for impressive trucks with prodigious design, which equates to the craftsmanship we should all aim to achieve.
When I asked Austin about teaching the next generation of enthusiasts on how to learn this trade, he answered with this: “Go and ask to push a broom at your local custom shop. Do the most peasant task you can do and don’t expect to make money doing it. That is your school and that is how you are going to earn it!”
Years of exertion in the custom automotive world has educated Austin. Further still, the experience has proven to him that finding the right people to amplify his talents is what a smart entrepreneur does when he wants to expand his brand. This is the same type of person who first refines his skill to become that craftsman I spoke of earlier. Make no mistake, Austin has figured out a method for impressive trucks with prodigious design, which equates to the craftsmanship we should all aim to achieve.
Grind Hard Garage
- Stewart, FL
1957 Chevy Suburban
- Converted to four-door with one-off rear suicide doors. Front doors were lengthened. Custom made B-pillar to latch the one-off rear doors with custom made billet suicide hinges
- Roof has been chopped 2.5 inches
- Custom sheetmetal rear spoiler built into roof
- Custom sheetmetal grille to accentuate the intercoolers
- JW speaker LED projector headlights drenched into the custom fenders with no bezels
- Full custom sheetmetal floor and close-out panels
- Custom sheetmetal dashboard
- Hood has been pancaked to flow better with the body
- Custom radiators and intercoolers made in-house
- Shaved rear bumper with custom roll pan
- One-off rear diffuser for rear mounted radiator air flow
- Flush mount fuel filler
- Redline Performance 2,000hp 441ci LSX with Callie’s Ultra H Beam connecting rods, CP pistons, Total Seal rings, 8.5=1 compression, Callie’s Billet 4.125 crankshaft, Dart LSX block, Comp Cams custom camshaft 0.715-inch lift, 249/259 duration, all pro 12-1 CNC-ported heads with titanium intake valves and exhaust valves, Isky valve springs
- Quad Mirror Image Garrett GTX3071R Turbos, full Ticon Industries titanium 4-inch exhaust and tubing, Tial sport wastegates and blow-off valves, Vibrant Performance HD clamps, Performance Design Carbon XR carbon fiber cross ram dual plenum intake and Dailey Engineering dry sump oil system. Engine is built for E85 fuel
- Roadster Shop Fast Track chassis with IRS
- Roadster Shop Elite Series 15-inch 6-Piston Brakes by Baer
- Integrated LED Lotus taillights and Mustang 3rd brake light and reverse built in
- Custom Billet Kompression wheels 20×9 front, 22×12 rear
- Full Motec M130 engine management and 12-inch display custom fit into dash
- Restomod Air HVAC with billet vents
- All American billet hood hinges
- All of the work was done in house at Grind Hard Garage in Stuart, FL