No parent ever wants to be called into a conference with their child’s teacher. Imagine getting the call for a conference with the teacher of your five year-old Kindergartner? The parents of David Anthony Garcia had that experience become a reality and the outcome of the meeting was both good and bad. The teacher contacted David Anthony’s parents to show them the detailed drawing he drew during class. Sounds like a positive right? Well, the problem wasn’t the drawing itself, it was that he had drawn it on his desk. This left the teacher in a bit of a predicament, as the drawing was so detailed and full of creativity, it couldn’t have been made by the hand of an average five-year-old. Although he was in trouble, the teacher wanted David Anthony’s parents to see the artistic talent that their son possessed. The Kindergarten encounter confirmed what his parents already knew, David Anthony had artistic talent.
David Anthony’s introduction to the art of model building came from his father, who used to build models for David Anthony and his brother, Joseph. His dad would also buy the boys models every pay day for them to build. As his drawing talent increased, so did his penchant for intricate model building techniques. When he was thirteen, his father’s friend, Bobby Ortiz, who was also a model builder himself, invited them to attend an IPMS (International Plastic Modeler Society) meeting in Orange County. He had been quickly impressed by the two boys’ talent after seeing what they were doing with their models. Although at first there were mostly military themed models at these meetings, the Garcias helped to bring in the modelers that were building custom car models to the meetings.
Soon David Anthony and his brother were competing in model building events like OrangeCon, the Southern California Classic Model Car Show (Ontario), the Lower Left Coast Model Car Contest (San Diego), and the Cactus Classic (Victorville). He was building traditional hot rods, 50’s customs and radical customs, using just about every type of model car part he could get his hands on. After a while, David Anthony was making a name for himself and getting a reputation for building very detailed models. Rick Hicks of Pegasus Hobbies built a Lowrider model called “Grapes of Wrath,” which took Lowrider building to another level. This build, in turn, inspired David Anthony to build one of his own. Before that, most of the Lowrider models were hoppers/dancers, but not yet very detailed.
In 1995, he built “Highland ’64” from scratch and parts from other kits. At that time there were no Lowrider model kits or parts, so David Anthony had to use parts from other kits or even make some of the parts himself. The build took a year to complete, as he took it to another level. At the time, most of the modelers glued the doors, hood, and trunk in an open position on their models. David Anthony made sure that “Highlander ’64” had opening and closing doors, as well as the hood and trunk. “Highlander ’64” was the first Lowrider model to win outside of the Lowrider category at the shows. It took “Best of Show,” “Best Detail,” “Best Interior,” and “First Place Lowrider,” at the Southern California Classic Model Car Show; a show which many consider to be the “Super Show” for model car builders. This was quite an accomplishment for David Anthony, since he was competing against modelers who were older and much more experienced than he was considering the fact that he was still a teenager!
Although “Highlander ’64” secured David Anthony’s reputation for high quality builds, his replication of Joe Ray’s “Las Vegas” car would also garner him quite a bit of attention. The build quality and attention to detail in that build is still unrivaled today. Completion of this legendary model took David Anthony three years to complete after countless hours of research.
The model car publications took notice of his work and featured “Highlander ’64” as a cover feature. In fact, he had three covers of Lowrider Bicycle with his Lowrider models. He also had cover features with a truck based on “Punch ’84,” as well as his replica of Joe Ray’s “Las Vegas” car, which was subsequently featured on the cover of Model Car Magazine. David Anthony even contributed tech articles to Lowrider Bicycle magazine.
When Pegasus Hobbies opened their Uptown Whittier, California store, David Anthony went to work for them. He worked for them for the duration of the shop’s Whittier residence, but was forced to quit when the owners moved the store to Montclair, California, as he did not have a license or running car at the time. Even though he did not continue on with Pegasus Hobbies, he left his influences there through his valuable input on the types of different Lowrider parts the company has produced and made available over the years.
Eventually, David Anthony became discouraged by the overall state of the model car hobby. Politics and rivalries were becoming rampant, so he decided to retire from model building and concentrate on his other artistic interests like logo design, pen/ink drawings, watercolor, and oil/acrylic paintings.
The Garcia family had been running their own family business called “The Drag-N Shop” in Whittier, California for years, so David Anthony began designing auto builds for their customers. The customers would come with an idea and he would produce a rendering, while his brother, Joseph, and their dad would build the car for the customer based on David Anthony’s drawing. The combination of David Anthony’s car designs and the shop’s reputation for quality work has produced quite a few show winners and magazine features.
While working at the Drag-N Shop, David Anthony also took an interest in pinstriping. There was a neighboring shop owner that was pin striping show cars, most notably cars from the Imperials Car Club. After some instruction from the shop owner, he was soon pinstriping everything in sight. He pinstriped the shop refrigerator, the toilet seat, the walls, and just about everything else on the location! The customers at the Drag-N Shop began utilizing his newly formed talents in this arena, and David Anthony then began to attend local car shows with his pin striping kit in hand, ultimately finding work by pin striping cars while at the show’s venue. His pinstriping work has been featured in Rod & Custom, Car Kulture Deluxe, and Lowrider Magazine.
After fifteen years of retirement, David Anthony has begun building models again. He has reconnected with many of his fellow modelers, like Gary Seeds, and is working on a few projects right now. He is also a regular contributor on the model builder forums on Layitlow.com. He is also working again for Pegasus Hobbies at their Montclair Super Store. At the urging of his family and friends, he is also drawing and painting more these days as his art has gained an even broader audience.
David Anthony credits his parents, and his brother for helping him to develop and pursue a career based on his artistic talents. He is grateful for their support, and also thanks his good friend, Lou “Lucky Hell Cat” Grijalva for the advice and direction over the years. He would also like to acknowledge Gary Seeds for his influence, as well as Pegasus Hobbies for their support.
Model cars are an important part of the Lowrider Culture. They both provide an entry level introduction to the Lowrider Culture for the youth of today, and many of today’s top Lowrider builders started off building model cars before they were driving age. Lowrider Magazine is committed to the promotion and preservation of Lowrider model building, and we thank David Anthony Garcia for sharing his story and his contributions to the Lowrider Culture over his many years of service.