Rad Rides on Display at G3 Rods Open House

G3 Rods in Rapid City, South Dakota, recently held an open house to show off its 20,000 square-foot facility and recognize many of its customers and partners—but it was also a charity fund raiser that bestowed more than $12,000 to a local children’s home.

It was some 10 years ago that Jay Gruba and younger brother Ryan built a ’56 Chevy Bel Air out of their home 32 x 40 garage. After the Tri-5 drew praise at a few shows, the brothers took on a ’56 Ford project and decided to open G3 Rods along with father Chuck—hence the name for the three Gruba partners.

Johnny Martin built the white ’57 Cameo out of his Colorado shop while the ’37 Packard owned by Jay Gruba has been featured on Rod Authority.

The open house at G3 Rods featured numerous customer cars as well as custom vehicles built by area shops to help draw a large crowd, despite threatening weather in the Black Hills. This ’55 is owned by David Hixson.

Since that time the shop has built numerous award-winning street rods and musclecars—usually with a unique design twist that sets G3 apart from other builders in the Midwest. For example, check out the ’37 Packard owned by Jay that has been featured in Rod Authority. Some of the shows they’ve exhibited at include numerous Goodguys events, Detroit Autorama and SEMA. The growth pattern including a short stint in a 5,000-square-foot before moving to the current location, a former home-improvement outlet that already offered many desirable features for a shop—such as large roll-up access doors, a generous parking lot and store-front location on a busy thoroughfare.

Shortly after the Grubas launched G3, they hired Rapid City native Tyler Nelson as shop manager. A graduate of the local WyoTech trade school, Nelson was named was named Street Rod Student of the Year. He currently is joined in the shop by Matt Reed.

The large open-area shop features an extensive automobilia collection that includes signs, gas pumps, license plates and other collectibles

Shop manager Tyler Nelson, far left, and G3 co-owner Ryan check out the fitment on project vehicle. On the right is co-owner Jay Gruba.

Some hot engines showed up at the open house, including this blown BBC on Rich Whipples drag car and a sweet 348 Chevy with cross-ram quads.

Here's are closer looks at Johnny Martin's Cameo and the shop's Packard.

Seen in the parking lot in front of the G3 shop during the open house. The red ’56 Ford owned by Denny Bruski is the first truck build for a customer by G3 Rods.

G3’s emphasis is on custom clean-sheet builds, although the shop will take in select restoration jobs. One of the most involved projects currently underway is a ’56 Nomad that is scheduled to debut at the 2017 Grand National Roadster Show. It’s currently in bare-metal status awaiting a custom all-aluminum 409.

Aside from the extensive and very interesting collection of automobilia to promote a true hot rod atmosphere, the shop is fully equipped to handle fabrication, bodywork, vehicle design and assembly. There’s also a fullsize paint booth that was acquired from a nearby air force base. They only chore G3 doesn’t handle is upholstery.

Bare-metal work is nearly done on Gordon Noggle’s ’56 Chevy truck and John Emacio’s ’56 Chevy Nomad. Below, the shop features complete fabrication equipment, including chassis table and metal-shaping equipment.

G3 also has a Binks paint booth that was acquired from Ellsworth Air Force Base nearby. The ’40 Lincoln in front is owned by Pete Klucas is all original and has never been restored

The Rapid City area and Black Hills are magnets for car shows, vehicle conventions and rallies as well as students who enroll at the Hot Rod Institute. Every summer there are huge events for Mustang, Camaro and Corvette owners in addition to local street rod shows. And the legendary Sturgis Rally that draws hundreds of thousands of bikers to the hills can offer plenty of inspiration for car projects.

G3’s open house featured 38 cars inside and probably another 50 to 60 cars were parked outside, despite light rain. Initially the event was to celebrate Ryan’s 40th birthday but G3 decided to charge registration, sell refreshments and sponsor auctions to help benefit the Black Hills Children’s Home. With matching funds put up by local organizations, the total contribution generated by the G3 Rods show totaled over $30,000.

Two more cool Chevys: shop co-owner Greg Gruba's '57 Chevy pickup that rests on a S-10 chassis and sports a big-block engine. Also, the '57 Nomad is another Johnny Martin creation.

Another view of the open house from behind Jerry Shagla’s ’47 Lincoln, which features a custom Art Morrison chassis, Coyote engine and even a touch-screen nav system.

About the author

Mike Magda

Mike Magda is a veteran automotive writer with credits in publications such as Racecar Engineering, Hot Rod, Engine Technology International, Motor Trend, Automobile, Automotive Testing Technology and Professional Motorsport World. He was the editor of four national automotive magazines, including Chevy High Performance, and has authored hundreds of automotive technical briefings. In covering nearly every type of motorsport, Mike has collaborated with many of racing's top engine builders and factory engineers.
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