Unknowingly, I first met Murray King back in the late 50's at his house in Calder
(NW Edmonton). I was kicking around with his older brother Ken, who had this neat
channeled 32 Ford Cabriolet. Ken and I had gone to different schools, but I guess
it was the car thing that had got us hooked up.
The King garage was much like mine, his dad was a trucker and enjoyed old cars. Like
my parents garage, there was always some old car activity going on in the back alley
of the house. I remember there always being young kids hanging around the King garage,
but I never really paid much attention to them. They were always pesky little kids,
and were always managing to get in our way as we were working on our hot rods. As
it turned out years later, one of them was Murray King!
After high school, Ken and I went different directions, pursuing our various interests.
Ken moving the Red Deer, Alberta, where his untimely death in 1977, would take him
I never saw that channeled Cabriolet for several years, until one day, while going
through the small town of Spruce Grove, I spotted this BIG black cowboy hat driving
a channeled 32 Cabriolet! Under the hat sat one Murray King, staring ahead at the
next light, seemingly deep in thought about something or other, then leaving the
light when it turned green, like the hounds of hells were on his tail!
This Cabriolet appeared to be powered by a large block engine, and judging by the
way it left the light, had but two throttle pistons, one right on, and the other
right off! It didn't occur to me that this was the same car I used to race back in
the 50's. It looked different somehow!
I remember thinking that some cowboy had built this channeled hot rod with this big
engine, the way he was driving it, was hell bent on wearing it out or breaking it,
A couple of months later I got to meet the driver, sans hat and realized we'd sorta
met years before. I was a beardless youth with a hot rod, and he was just a snot
nosed kid with a penchant to own a hot rod. Turns out he inherited the deuce from
his brother Ken, and it was probably this car that inspired Murray to start collecting
a bit more "old tin" as he got older, and could afford to do so!
Murray's original vocation was in cabinet making and wood working, with his little
company doing commercial renovations for various companies. As he got more proficient
at this, he started bidding jobs for companies that were national in scope, which
meant he eventually had to take his renovation business on the road. After completing
some of these jobs, he would often end up at the other end of the nation, with his
crew and some empty trailers, and not wanting to come home empty handed, he started
contracting various car collectors and owners, and buying cars from them. Loading
them up in his trailers, he would head home to Spruce Grove with his new finds. It
wasn't long before he had over 650 vehicles in his company yard in Spruce Grove!
People started knocking on his door, many wanting to buy parts, other inquiring if
he could do some work for them on their cars.
Our boy saw the opportunity to expand the woodworking business into something he
really enjoyed doing. In a few short years, Kustom King was born, and a new chapter
in his life was to begin! Over the years, he would acquire some mighty fine metal
forming equipment, some machine shop goodies, (including a couple CNC machines),
and a competent, well-trained staff to run it all.
In 2008, he closed a deal with Pete Chapouris, President of So-Cal Speed Shops, to
form So-Cal Canada Ltd, becoming the exclusive distributor for the So-Cal Speed Shops
fine line of automotive products. A beautiful spacious new building complete with
show room and mini museum was built. It houses a complete inventory of So-Cal products
available for the Canadian market, hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of inventory
were stocked on the shelves, and the next chapter in our good friends career was
about to take off! Kustom King, which concentrates on the building and restoration
of everything from farm tractors to state of the art hot rods compliments the operation.
Murray arranges tours though his plant for the various car clubs and interested groups
to see just what the company does, and never seems to tire of his management duties.
Murray, his wife Danea, and daughter Jennifer, have all been staunch supporters of
River Run activities, the past decade or so, with Murray being one of the founding
members of the Grove Cruise.
I spotted the old channeled deuce sitting in the back of Murray's shop, quietly awaiting
to be resurrected once again. Murray plans to install a new So-Cal state of the art
chassis, replacing the tired original set of frame rails and running gear. A new
set of steel fenders, a new floor, un-channeling the body, with the body once again
sitting on top of the frame!
I guess the only thing missing after it's completed, is that cowboy hat!