Hot Rods by Dean – Carrying the Torch
Dean Livermore, founder and President of Arizona’s Hot Rods by Dean, is a product of the old school. Born and raised on Long Island, New York (where he most likely forged his razor shop business acumen) he and his family moved to Phoenix in 1986. The years thereafter is where Dean’s sheet metal success story begins.
Through his passion for hot rods, Livermore was introduced to Dick “Magoo” Megugorac in the 1990s. Magoo, who passed away in 2016, was a kingpin in hot rod circles dating back to the late 1950s in Southern California. Magoo was a straight shooter and creator of some iconic cars but more importantly for Livermore, was a wealth of experience in the hot rod construction business.
“Dick was a wealth of knowledge and without him, this would have been a much bumpier journey” Livermore said. “Dick coached me to be fair and honest. He offered his personal experiences with building cars but more than that – helped me how to handle employees, customers and expectations. His lessons were invaluable.”
Now Magoo wasn’t one to mince words. A large man in stature and reputation, he was as straight a shooter as you could ever hope to meet. In a 2015 interview Magoo said this about contemporary hot rod construction: “Back in the 1970s there was really no aftermarket,” he explained. “You had to do everything yourself — look for the original bodies, modify stock frames, have springs wound or arched — whatever it took, you really had to work overtime.”
“Today you can just by bodies, frames, rails — everything you need. I call ‘em Erector Set cars. And while the craftsmanship is wonderful, in my eye, nothing looks better than a ’29 hobo on deuce rails. Now that’s a hot rod!”
Armed with this ethos, Livermore opened Hot Rods by Dean in 2000. By 2005, he had earned enough industry credibility to be named Goodguys Trendsetter. In another five years, his righteous rods, known for style and drivability were competing for the biggest awards in the industry. And it has remained that way ever since. The variety of machines that roll out of his Phoenix shop are as diverse as any shop in the states. Olds powered early Ford coupes, resto mod cruisers, muscle cars, promotional giveaway cars, Bonneville cars and even vintage European machines. And every one of them has a little Magoo in it.
One of our favorite hot rods built by Livermore and his team is Tim Kirby’s black ’33 Ford coupe. With a chop and channel job, Olds power and a sinister stance – it was a finalist for Goodguys Hot Rod of the Year in 2012. Dean’s land speed ’55 Chevy shoebox is another iconic hot rod to roll out of his shop. All of this adds up to over 100 cars being shipped out the door since he opened at the turn of the century. One of his cherished accolades was being named “Builder of the Year” at the 2015 Grand National Roadster Show in Pomona. “To be recognized as one of the top builders in the country was mind boggling to me. I just set out to build cars. When other well-known builders come up to me and say they really like a car we built it’s an incredible honor.”
Hot Rods by Dean has remained successful for nearly two decades by doing things the right way. Family ties have also aided the journey. Dean’s brother Darrell runs the front end of the shop – billing, payroll, parts counter, and customer relations while Dean oversees the busy fab shop. It’s a large and bustling hot rod proving ground complete with fabrication and assembly stations, full paint & body shop, machine shop, service and maintenance guys etc. There is also a line of house-made merchandise including their wildly popular core support system for Tri-Five Chevys. The system replaces the stock unit with an upgraded radiator, fans, and sensors. And it’s the only one on the market constructed from steel. They also do dash bezels, ’40 Ford “stash boxes” battery trays and more.
While Dean and Darrell are doing their thing, Dean’s wife Trish has her hands full with other business-related projects. Dean has always been a team-first kind of guy. “Without my team we obviously wouldn’t be here,” he said. My family, Ron McKorkel, Drew Beeler (Shop Foreman), body guys Sean Rosic & Leo Sidillo, along with our new guys Nick and Paul Taylor, Vic Herbert – they’re fantastic at what they do.”
Dean is also a bit of a collector. His personal hot rod stable includes his high school car – a 1968 Camaro. A ‘55 Chevy Gasser, blown alcohol front engined dragster, and a ‘32 sedan with a blown BOSS 429 give him plenty of options for Sunday drives with Trish and their young son Zack.
“I like getting away on weekends with Trish and Zack,” he says. “We travel a lot and we take a hot rod 90 percent of the time. We like family road trips.”
We know hot rodding is a generational thing, passed down with invaluable teachings like Magoo did with Dean. If young Zack Livermore ever decides to take the reins of the family business, he will have the best mentor a kid could ever have.