A Beastly Background

A Little Haiti company outlives its checkered past

Luster was so steamed that he scrapped the project and sold his Street Beasts body and frame to another rodder. "I've just written them off," he explains. "I know nothing will be resolved and they'll just aggravate me further."

Southern says he's not familiar with the particulars of Luster's complaints. But such grievances, he argues, usually arise from factors outside the company's control. Street Beasts' suppliers are sometimes slow to deliver parts. And customers often lack the necessary mechanical acumen. "A lot of people think they know how to build a car," he explains. "But when they get in there, they don't. And they always think it's our fault."

Other customers have been so pleased that they've bought multiple cars. Among them is Ronald Mayberry, a 64-year-old retiree who lives amid the rolling, brush-covered hills of Duncan, Oklahoma. He bought his first Street Beast kit, a 1934 Ford three-window coupe, after his mother died in the late Nineties. "My dad was kind of lost," he recalls. "I thought getting into street-rodding would give us something to do together and let him get his mind off the mourning." The duo spent nearly two years outfitting the car with everything from a Chevy 350 motor to an overdrive transmission and power windows. Then they glazed their creation with metallic purple paint. Shortly after it was finished, they ordered and built a 1933 Victoria.

To house the cars, Mayberry constructed an old-fashioned garage, complete with checkered floors, a penny scale, and antique gas pumps. He has also taken to attending street rod shows. "It's like going back to better times, when life moved slower," he explains. "The cars really transport you."

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