In developing this website, I wanted to add stories of people and businesses throughout the automotive industry in GA that are of interest to me and, hopefully, to you, too. Together with Art Ogg, we are compiling stories to share here and on the pages of StreetTalk and the GSRA Facebook page. If you have an idea for a story, let me know. Our list is by no means exclusive and should represent the membership of GSRA. Keep in mind that it takes time to put together a story and edit the pictures. This story about Metal Union has taken a few months to develop. The Coronavirus has slowed us up a bit. Feel free to send me your comments.
Doug Mills, firstname.lastname@example.org
They Just Keep On Building!!!!
The first step in building a truly awe-inspiring custom vehicle is to find an awesome builder. There are a few who are considered titans of the industry. Metal Union in Lilburn, GA. is one of the premier custom builders in the country. A recent visit with Brandon Smith, General Manager and chief designer for Metal Union, included a shop tour that was mind-blowing. How do you do it Brandon?
“I take into consideration what the customer wants and if it possible and whether it will look good. I study the vehicle in its rawest form and let it speak to me! Then, we do a rendering.” Brandon said.
“I let the build talk to me, it will tell me what it wants and then we start building it.”
Brandon is the first to share the spotlight with the artisans who work at Metal Union. He goes on to say that the teams they have in place were carefully chosen through steps they have found to be successful. First, the candidates must be skilled. Second, they must be willing to come in every day ready to work. Lastly, they must work as part of a cohesive team.
During the tour, we quickly realized we were in one of the finest fabrication shops in the Atlanta area. Their work has brought in customers and accolades from around the world. Their projects range from a simple upgrade to a full-blown ground-up construction.
“Metal Union offers over 30 years of qualified experience in the high-end automotive fabrication, customization and maintenance industry. We have achieved multiple national industry awards as well as been recognized in dozens of magazines and online features from around the World. At Metal Union, we use our knowledge and experience to assist our clients in creating the elegant cars of their dreams. Our main focus is on engineering safety and quality of construction while ensuring our creations are unique, reliable, and last for decades. At Union we have invested in the best and most unique equipment available to save our customers time and money in their project solutions. We have partnered with premier manufacturers within the industry to provide the best products and results for our clients project goals-client care and satisfaction means everything to us.
SOURCE: METAL UNION WEBSITE (https://metalunionspeedshop.com/)
This 1937 Lincoln Zephyr has extensive redesign planning and work. Note the detailed fabrication effort used in the construction of the trunk lid of this rod. It now resembles a VW hood. This trunk lid is so exact it could be placed on a VW without modifications. The entire piece was hand built by Metal Union. Notice their great form and perfect fit within the fender openings. They look like they came from the factory.
Here is an interesting project being completed by Metal Union for our GSRA President, Doug Mills. Here are the basic facts about Doug Mills 1941 COE as he has shared with us: “Norm’s Rod Shop is the shop that is actually building the truck. It is at Metal Union for some fab work to make new panels for the cab and some custom touches (changing the headlights to 37 Ford built into the fenders and adding push-button door latches from a Lincoln Zephyr). This may not sound like much but it has been a lot of work. I purchased the truck from a person in NJ after he had saved it from a rock quarry in WI. He mounted it on an ’87 Chev dually chassis and was going to make a rat rod out of it.”
The only thing left from the original truck he purchased is the cab which looks like a ’41 Ford COE. The dually rear end and independent front end are retained from the ’87 Chevy frame. The cab has been totally rebuilt, new frame, mid-engine 454 with 4L80E Gearstar transmission specifically built for this truck. This will be a flatbed truck upon completion.
This is a rendering of what Doug’s COE is planned to look like when finished. This is a definite “work in progress” venture.
This is going to be one of the coolest vehicles we have seen coming together in a very long time. We hesitate to label this car with a year and make. The huge scoop just ahead of the rear tire is a cooling port for the engine’s radiator. Also, there are no entry doors. Notice the ridge sitting down low between the tires. This is a reinforced ridge that will be painted with the body color and then coated with a protecting material allowing entry as a place to step.
This is clearly going to be a one of a kind custom vehicle resulting from renderings and brainstorming between Metal Union and the owner of this wonderful car. The body of this vehicle will weigh less than 200 pounds when completed.
This is a customer’s dream project we have been lucky enough to see while it is being constructed. The owner is a retired architect and provided Metal Union with scale drawings of his vision. Originally Metal Union started with a 1939 Dodge Sedan. Note the body lines that start at the front door continuing all the way to the rear and back up to the other side. This is an amazing amount of fabrication and workmanship to create this feature. This was not part of the original factory design. Notice the cutout for the exhaust pipes.
The Dodge will be suspended on JRi Shocks’ that provides a hydraulic ride height system that will raise 3″ to clear road irregularities. A fuel cell and radiator will be custom-built for this project to fit in the front, leaving the back of the car open to show off the engine. The grill insert is entirely hand-built in house and is a thing of beauty. The engine is a stock 2014 5.7 HEMI from a Dodge truck that will have an individual runner EFI system. The engine is connected to a five-speed manual Porsche transaxle turned backward and flipped upside down. The fuel tank is being located at the front of the car just behind the radiator.
Metal Union has an incredible number of specialty tools for construction. A few of them are pictured.
#1: The black item on the left is an Eckold Piccollo
#2: The tool in the center is a Planishing Hammer
#3: The tool on the right is a wide arc English Wheel
This story will continue when we returned in a few weeks with a few updates to see how the builds have progressed. The Metal Union shop is very fluid and dynamic . If I could make a suggestion for this fabrication company, I would suggest they hang a sign as you first come in the door that states:
FOR OUR CUSTOMERS, QUALITY HAS NO FINISH LINE!
METAL UNION, 5395 WEBB PARKWAY NW, LILBURN, GA. 30047 BRANDON SMITH, GENERAL MANAGER (770) 837-9801 Bsmith@MetalUnionSpeedShop.com
Thanks to Art Ogg for his work in putting together this story.