Elgin’s Fab Four - Back in the Day

Doug Marion Dec 4, 2013 0 Comment(s)
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West of Chicago, you’ll find the Town of Elgin. Back in the day, it was home to Oswego Drag Strip. From it came many nationally- known Chevy racers. Three record-holders and national class winners were Larry Teeter, Bud Richter and Ken Barnhart. A fourth early Elgin racer-turned custom car builder (on Elgin’s historic Sadler Avenue) was Ed Suhajda (Su-hada). For the record, other top custom and paint shops in the area were Dave Puhl’s House of Customs in Palatine and Skully’s Customs in Wheeling.

 Chevy Camaro Zl1 427 Barnhardt 2/3

As life goes, you never think you’ll see these legends you’ve met or even their friends, plus well-known customers—after you move away like I did. But I’ve run into many, “Mr. ZL1” Big Ken Barnhardt multiple times. I think of these three and read of their exploits in old issues of Drag News. But what about Ed Suhajda? Recently, I was 10 miles across the California/Nevada border in Pahrump (40 minutes northwest of Las Vegas). While having lunch, I overheard a voice behind me at the next table, which I plainly recognized from long ago. Yes indeed, it was my number one custom car builder pal, Ed. Holy cow! Small world! When I said hello, he exclaimed, “Doug, I’ve been reading Super Chevy for years!”

Tired of blustery Midwest winters, he and wife Marge moved west. Today, I am happy to report he is still going strong in the custom car building trade—still pretty much by himself, as he always preferred. His moto: “One car at a time, start to finish.” Outside in his truck were photos of a just completed, really trick, yellow ’64 Chevelle.

 Chevy Camaro 3/3

So what’s in this story for you? If you live in a western state, you should put Ed’s info (see below) in your toolbox for future consideration. Towards the end of our chat, I asked Ed how he has stayed in his line of work all these years. Absolutely loving what he does, he said, “I meet my deadlines, I do good work, my cars are show winners, and I stay within the agreed-to budget.”

If you are looking for a veteran custom car builder, give Ed a call. I will certainly hold his feet to the fire (so to speak). He’s at P.O. Box 3563, Pahrump, NV 89041 (775-537-9090). One more thing: Ed loves to talk and he’s very thorough. Great seeing you, pal. Keep in touch.




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