Often, we refer to an older generation as the craftsmen of our time, however, I feel it is more a measure of experience rather than just age. Craftsmanship has been described as executing something to its fullest, even when you know it will not be seen or acknowledged. A craftsman takes pleasure in their craft and tries to create perfection in their work, no matter the witness. They do not do it for the accolades, but rather for the accomplishment.
I believe there are few real craftsmen alive today in our truck culture, but if you have ever heard the name Austin Weiss then I may be able to convince you that he has the right to this title.
Now Austin did mention during his interview that he had an affection for the Chevy Cameo Truck and trucks of that era. This is evident with his personal truck named Tiffany. She is a 1958 factory teal-colored Apache wearing a great bit of patina. Austin claims this was one of his dream trucks to own. Let’s break it down a bit.
When Austin found this truck, it wore its original paint and blemishes. That’s what initially attracted him to it. He knew the transformation he could make by keeping a simple build plan. Starting with the chassis, Austin went in favor of a front and rear clip from Porterbuilt Fabrication. A dropped cross member combined with tubular arms and rack and pinion steering up front is complemented by a back half and four-link at the rear, all actuated by Air Lift Performance bags and QA1 shocks. The air suspension is controlled by an AccuAir air management system.
By now it should be no surprise that Austin likes to put in work on the engine bays of his creations; Tiffany is no exception. She is powered by a 416 cubic-inch stroker LS with a full forged rotating assembly to accept the additional air being forced into the Holley intake by the twins. The twin turbo system is another in-house built design utilizing Comp Turbo Technologies patented oil-less design. With Tial wastegates and a water to air intercooler (bed mounted), the Vibrant Performance clamps have their work cut out for them.
What I feel sorry for are the rollers. These Nitto Invo performance tires and Boze Forged Tach wheels see some punishment on the pavement. Luckily, they have the support of the large 14-inch Baer brakes to help slow down this Apache as needed.
When Austin found this truck, it wore its original paint and blemishes. that’s what initially attracted him to it. He knew the transformation he could make by keeping a simple build plan.
Rounding out this beautiful truck is a completely restored interior with all the amenities. The two-tone painted dash and doors bring back that originality, while the modern Auto Meter gauges and RestoMod Air cooling system let you know everything will be monitored and comfortable during your journey.
More on the Agenda
Now these aren’t the only trucks Grind Hard Garage has touched. In fact, if you are in the know, you may have noticed a killer little Cameo from Texas has made its way to Florida for the full custom treatment. If you have no idea what I’m talking about, then I would encourage you to get on your social media and look into what these guys have coming out next.
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.
1958 Chevy Apache 3100
- Original Indian Turquoise paint with sunkissed patina
- Twin-turbo stroker 408ci LSX motor with forged rotating assembly, CNC ported and polished heads
- Comp turbo twin oil-less ceramic ball bearing turbos, force-feeding the Holley Performace Highram intake with 102mm throttle body, Holley Terminator Stand-alone engine management system. Tial Sport blow off valve and waste gates, vibrant performance HD clamps, Stainless Bros stainless tubing finished in JetHot ceramic coating
- 4L85E built by Monster Transmission to hold 1500-plus hp
- 20×22-inch Boze Forged Tach wheels
- 6-piston 14-inch Baer brakes
- Digital Guard Dog push to start
- Brothers Trucks grille, emblems, bezels and bumpers
- Porterbuilt drop member and custom 4-link and C-notched rear
- Accuair E-Level air management
- Airlift Performance airbags
- QA1 shocks
- Rick’s Tanks stainless fuel tank
- JL Audio stereo system with Pioneer doubled in head unit
- Custom interior using all genuine leather
- Custom raised Bedwood floor
- Be Cool radiator
- Restomod Air HVAC
- Auto Meter gauges with billet bezel
- All work was done in house at Grind Hard Garage in Stuart, FL
CONTACT Grind Hard Garage
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