Nichols paint and fab

Justin Nichols, owner of Nichols Paint & Fab, a custom automotive shop in Watseka, IL, is filming a new automotive reality TV show at his shop.

The first episode of the show will feature the green 1960 C10 truck that the shop built for the SEMA show in Las Vegas and was unveiled in the Matrix booth. The show will cover everyday life at the shop, following custom builds that are mostly ‘20s through ‘60s cars, trucks and motorcyles.

Autobody News reached out to Nichols by phone for more information.

"We are taking stuff outside the box and out of the norm,” he said. “We have our own style and try to prove that with any build---large or small. We were very leery about doing a TV show only because of the deadlines. Everyone knows you can't rush builds like this, but so far we are doing pretty good. We are going on three hours of sleep each night. Scheduling this many things at once with a small crew is next to impossible, but our team---Maegan, Ziggy, Nick, Donnie, Dave and myself---power through and turn out some crazy stuff."

The shop does custom paint and airbrush, as well as metal forming, fabricating and welding.

"The only thing we do not handle is upholstery, yet," Nichols said.

The shop's current projects will be premiered on the TV show.

Nichols was recognized along with Joe Vincent and Gary “Boogie Man” Zaborowski as one of the three Valspar Automotive Matrix System "Mavericks of Color" for 2018 at SEMA 2017. Matrix kicked off the Mavericks of Color campaign in 2017 with Ryan Evans from Count's Kustoms in Las Vegas, Cody Lumpkin from Dick Lumpkin's Autobody in Piqua, OH, and Shane Marchyshyn, Automotive Services Inc., in Columbus, OH.

Autobody News followed up with Nichols for more information on the TV show and his role as a Matrix System "Maverick of Color."

"I have been using Matrix paint for years,” Nichols said. “The ease of being able to do whatever you want and the clears are amazing. Most importantly, they are like a family. I am so happy to be a part of the Matrix family. For the company to pick me as a Maverick of Color was kind of mind-blowing when you think of how many painters are in the USA.”

Born and raised in Watseka, IL, Nichols took after his father, who was also connected to the life of flashy and fast cars. He has appeared on Spike TV's "Search and Restore" and the “PowerNation” show.

Nichols’ work has been showcased in Classic Truck, Street Rodder, Raw Bike, Hot Rod, Bagger, American Bagger and Built Not Bought magazines.

Nichols and his staff won Best Traditional Hot Rod and Best in Class with their 1929 Ford Sedan at World of Wheels in Chicago. The International they built won top 20 In Chicago World of Wheels, along with the Best Truck Interior award. His team also received the Street Rodder Top 100 award.

Nichols plans to announce more information about the upcoming TV show sometime in March 2018.
A picture on a magazine cover has led to a television series deal for a Watseka businessman.

Justin Nichols and the crew at Nichols Paint and Fab are in the midst of filming the show at the shop on South Second Street.

The film crew is at the shop four to five days a week, while the Nichols crew works on the many custom car and bike orders they have. The filming takes place from 8:30 a.m. and can last until 1 or 2 in the morning.

"We are building a car for a guy in Florida," Nichols said. "The show is about trying to communicate and build the relationships with about 10 different people on this project."

The first episode will feature the 1960 C10 truck the crew built for the SEMA trade show in Las Vegas last fall.

But it all started with a picture of a motorcycle on the cover of a bike magazine.

The Yamaha 650 was a built a couple of years ago and was featured at some motorcycle and car shows and then eventually on the magazine cover.

It was that cover that the current film director saw at a store, picked up the magazine and read the article. He then called Nichols and wanted to talk about filming a show around the Nichols shop.

"The next thing we knew, we filmed for a week in February of last year," he said.

From there, the filming has continued and the show is now 12 episodes, or two seasons.

Nichols can't reveal the network it will air on or exactly when. Those details will be forthcoming soon, he said. He can say that six episodes will be featured in the spring and six others will be featured in the fall.

For now, they continue to work on the filming and highlight some of the work being done by the Nichols Paint and Fab crew.

The show will highlight a main project, and then feature some other smaller side projects. "There will be an A build and a B build," he said. The A build is the big project and the B build is the smaller one.

While the show is a reality show of sorts, there isn't scripted portions or lots of drama. The shows will feature what it is like as they work on the projects.
The Nichols crew is able to do work that other builders don't, or won't do. Some of it is "oddball" stuff, he said.

Because of the work load, Nichols has also been able to hire three more guys. The film crew deadlines are intense at times and adding manpower helps to ensure it gets completed.

While the work is long hours, Nichols is especially proud that his hometown is being featured on a television show.

Nichols is excited, too, to be able to show the work they put into the builds. "It's nice to be able to show what you are capable of," he said.

"We are using our engineering, fabricating and paint skills and it's nice to be able to show that off," he said. They work together to make the project successful in house. "The only thing we send out is upholstery and he does that here a lot."

While the Nichols crew is working on these film segments, they are also running the business and preparing for other projects throughout the year.

One of those is the Pikes Peak race, which Nichols will run in June, driving the C10 truck they took to SEMA. "We will be filming that, so people will be able to see how that goes." The truck was built to the PIkes Peak race specs, he said.