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Aurelia native featured on Speed Network TV show

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Camera crews with the TV show 'Chop Cut Rebuild' film host Dan Woods, kneeling, and Chris Womack and Jason Jones, standing from left, during filming at Womack's shop in Huntington Beach, California. The show features Womack's shop as they build a 1941 Willys coupe replica. Photo by Paul Bersebach, Orange County Register.
HUNTINGTON BEACH, Calif. - These are heady times for Aurelia native Jason Jones, the son of Tom and Carla Jones.

Last month, he attended the equivalent of his profession's Academy Awards - the Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) show, which was held at the Las Vegas Convention Center

Not only was a '41 Willys Coupe Jeep Jason restored entered in the prestigious custom-car show, but Jason is also currently prominently featured on a television show, "Cut, Chop, Rebuild."

The show runs on Saturday mornings at 7:30 ET on the SPEED network, and Jason will appear on the television show the next nine weeks. The 13-week series details Jason's work building the '41 Willys for SEMA.

A self-described "car guy" with gifts aplenty, Jason's week last week was unlike any week most "car guys" encounter across a lifetime of work.

Jason, is a '99 AHS graduate, is young, determined, and is considered "one of the most talented builders in California."

The current SPEED network exposure is hardly his first television time. "I've built hot rods for other television shows," he said. "I guess I'm getting better known."

Aurelia native Jason Jones, shop manager at CW Restoration Shop in Huntington Beach, California, works on a 1941 Willys coupe replica during filming for the TV show 'Chop Cut Rebuild.' The show features Chris Womack's shop as they build the car. Photo by Paul Bersebach, the Orange County Register
Jason works for the Huntington Beach, Calif.-based CW Hot Rods & Restoration. The hot rod/restoration shop is gaining national and international attention following its hiring of Jason, and the SPEED network crew's documentation of the '41 coupe's restoration.

The '41 Willys belongs to a 63-year-old woman named Rose. She is restoring the car to honor her late husband, Joe. Jason installed a GM E-Rod package engine in the '41. The package will pass state emissions tests and be cleared to ride the road with 430 horsepower under the hood. (Although Jason can - and has - built a motor for a restoration job, GM gave this motor to the CW shop)

Custom work like this is not for the light of pocket.

"The '41 Willys is insured for $300,000," Jason said. "We probably put $200,000 in it."

A full 85 percent of the rebuilt '41 Willys was handmade by Jason.

Like GM with the motor, the show "Cut, Chop, Rebuild" provided, for free, a lot of the product used to rebuild the car in exchange for the publicity the documentary will garner the network.

Like a surgeon specializing in a single medical modality, Jason restricts his skills to very specific vehicles. "I only restore pre-1970s cars," he said. "I build them from the ground up. I've done a '32 Roadster and a '69 Camaro. Camaros are my favorite. I've done thirteen '68 Camaros."

Talk to Jason very long and you sense the pride of his calling. "What some people do is assemble parts to resemble something. What I do is different - I use or build with the original parts."

Jason's day job - envious as this may sound - is in Huntington Beach. He works in a 5,500 square-foot building. It's just him, the shop's owner, and one other man.

It's about the quest, he said.

"We restore cars. It's a restoration business. We build hot rods from scratch."

Jason's father and grandfather were car guys, each with an unequivocal passion for all things mechanical. But Jason differed in that "I didn't want to be a mechanic."

No, what Jason wanted to do was replicate high-end Muscle Cars like Corvettes and Willys and damn any doubters or naysayers.

None of this restoration stuff is easy, if only because limiting yourself to pre-1970s cars means "finding original parts" can be difficult. Not necessarily impossible, but difficult.

And expensive.

Jason is undeterred.

His professional success speaks for itself.

Jason's chartered a unique path to custom-car stardom that bodes uniqueness of personage.

"This '41 Willys is high-tech," he said. "There are no keys. It's ultratouch. The touch screens are all hidden. I had to program it all through the car's computer."

And you thought Steve Jobs was smart.

It can take six months to rebuild a car like this '41 Willys; however, with television cameras in the shop, Jason and the CW team completed it in 13 weeks. Hollywood may have its own deadline, but an empty black shell transformed into a classic coupe is its final edition.

"It's a lot of hours," Jason said. "Creativity is involved. I love the work. I love the demands. It's never the same two cars in a row."

Jason, at any one time, is working on two or three classic cars simultaneously. As he awaits parts or material for one, he focuses his skills on another, and so on and so forth, a never-ending cycle of classic car reproduction production, an assembly line of one.

As mentioned, Jason is becoming noticed not just regionally, but nationally and internationally.

"We have a customer in Japan," he said. "And before the economy soured, we sold a lot of stuff in Australia. The Aussies love American Muscle Cars."

Collectors pay big money for properly restored cars.

"They demand original parts," Jason said. "I first get the VIN number, then I may need a 350 block. I use original heads. The goal is to keep it as original as possible. We can change out the wheels, but not much more than that. We don't want to kill the value of the car."

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