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The Average Salary of a Hot Rod Shop Owner

Hot rod builders create works of art out of steel, beefy engines and a few gallons of premium paint. Owning a hot rod shop requires an extensive background with car maintenance, a passion for street machines and the ability to keep track of financial operations. Though the work is often long, hot rod shop owners can earn thousands of dollars for their art.

Average Salary

The average salary of technicians in the automotive industry was between approximately $12 and $23 per hour in 2008, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The highest 10 percent of earners made approximately $28 per hour or more in that same year. Because hot rod shop owners typically receive higher salaries than their employees, they most likely fall in the top ten percent of salaries. For example, Hot Rod Magazine states that the average salary for hot rod shop owners in the Los Angeles area was between $75 and $100 per hour in 2010. However, hot rod shop owners must deduct shop expenses, labor and vehicle parts from their hourly rate.


The average annual salary of hot rod shop owners depends on the services the shop provides. Shops that provide only maintenance to hot rods might make less money than a hot rod shop that provides maintenance and custom hot rod builds. For example, customers pay thousands of dollars for hot rod shop owners to build custom vehicles. Customers that have smaller maintenance problems are likely to pay only a few hundred dollars for the labor.


Before opening a hot rod shop, the owner of the business needs extensive experience in the automotive industry as a technician and repairer. Additionally, the owner must have some history knowledge regarding old, rare and classic cars. For example, a prospective hot rod shop owner might first work in another hot rod shop as a technician, eventually climbing the ranks to management. Business experience is beneficial to hot rod shop owners because running a business requires basic understanding of accounting, finance and management.


Hot rod shop owners are likely to work more than 40 hours per week to finish hot rod projects and customer vehicle requests. Finishing custom car projects could take weeks depending on the condition of the vehicle and the needs of the customer. For example, if a customer brings a classic car to hot rod shop owner that is covered in rust, the shop owner will spend many labor hours prepping the body for paint and replacing parts that are erroded. Additionally, he might have to special order parts for the vehicle, which takes time. Every wasted minute of work lowers his profit margin as a hot rod shop owner.


Aaron Marquis is a University of Texas graduate with experience writing commercials and press releases for national advertising agencies as well as comedy television treatments/stories for FOX Studios and HBO. Marquis has been writing for over six years.