When commissioned by Bob Larivee Sr. to bring Tom Daniel's Red Baron kit model to life, Ch
One of the most noteworthy honors bestowed at the Detroit Autorama is the recognition of "Builder of the Year," which is awarded to the individual who has made a significant impact in the hot rod and custom car world. This year the legendary Chuck Miller received the honors as he wowed the crowds with an amazing array of his creations in a special display.
With a career spanning well over four decades, it's easy to see that Chuck's endless creativity has certainly earned him a place amongst many of his peers, such as Barris, Winfield, Starbird, and the Alexander Brothers, to name but a few. There were humble beginnings for Chuck growing up as a teen enrolled at Lincoln Park High School in Michigan. He began honing his custom skills on a number of cars while also working at Dick's Collision Shop in River Rouge. After graduating from school in 1961, he went to work full time at the shop, handling basic insurance bodywork claims. However, there was a ray of light shining down on him highlighting his vast customizing capabilities and the passion he had for it. Here was a young talent immersed in the heyday of some of the most inspiring cars to roll off the production lines in history.
Celebrating over 46 years in the business as one of the country's most notable custom car
His personal '50 Ford coupe with its subtle modifications and perfect stance earned him his first feature in the May '61 issue of Rodding and Restyling magazine. From there the path he was destined for was unfolding before him. In 1963, when Dick decided to retire, Chuck purchased the shop and changed its name to Styline Customs. From there he embarked on an amazing career that would turn out countless notable custom cars, many of which would receive magazine features and cover notoriety.
With Michigan being a hotbed of custom car activity, Chuck's shop was always in demand and each car that rolled through the doors brought with it a new set of style challenges. As the years moved forward and the world of show rods gained steam, he focused his vision on just what he might bring to the table as his first effort. He chose the '68 Detroit Autorama to debut his radical Fire Truck with its handcrafted, one-off C-cab body, decadent Candy Fire Engine Red hue, and blown Ford V-8. The truck's incredible attention to detail and creativity earned it the Ridler Award, no small feat for Chuck who was only 28 years old at the time. That same year, Car Craft magazine dubbed it one of the Top 10 Rods 'n' Rails of the year.
While most show rods of the day featured excessively blown monster V-8s, the Red Baron pre
During this time frame it was common to find plastic kit model companies transforming award-winning show rods into scale models for youngsters to build at their kitchen tables. Such was the case with the Fire Truck when it was distributed by MPC. It was at this same time when Monogram issued a wild Tom Daniel-designed kit called the Red Baron, catching the attention of Bob Larivee Sr. who immediately knew it would be a hit on the custom car scene for the Show Car Division of the ISCA. Typically, an existing show rod would launch a kit offering, but in this case the opposite happened. With a licensing agreement in hand from Monogram, Larivee contacted Chuck knowing he would be able to take on the challenge of bringing it to life. The car featured a hand-formed steel body and chassis, cowl-mounted machine guns, masterfully replicated World War I German helmet, and signature handmade wheels. It was unveiled at the '69 Detroit Autorama to rave reviews. The success of the car continued on as it moved across the show circuit, earning top honors as the Sweepstakes winner at the Grand National Roadster Show.