We all know the names of the greats in car restoration. They’ve been in the business for years, becoming masters in their crafts. As is the case in many industries, sometimes you begin to wonder about who is going to fill their shoes as time goes by. Are there young people out there learning from these masters? Are these skills getting passed on to a younger generation? Look no further than automotive upholsterer Taylor Holcomb.
After graduating from high school in Shawnee, Okla., Holcomb got an industrial job at an area plant. He says it didn’t take long before he was on autopilot and it got him to thinking about what else he could do.
“My father was in to cars. My grandpa and my uncles – they all built cars. I didn’t really get to know my grandpa, you know. And I got to thinking I’d kind of like to pay homage to him,” Holcomb says.
So without any experience whatsoever, Holcomb walked into a local automotive shop and asked them if he could hang around and learn how to do interior upholstery.
“Erin Wickizer just bought the place from Marlin Ward who was retiring, but Marlin decided to stay on for awhile. So he’s the one who showed me some tips and stuff,” explains Holcomb. “A ’32 Roadster came in from Dallas and we worked on that together … he let me do the door panels and the firewall cover in pleats. The guy came and got it and loved it!”
When Ward officially retired in 2018, Wickizer asked Holcomb to work in his shop doing automotive upholstery full time.
“I said, you know what? I’m in my twenties. People wake up when they are 55 and say ‘I wish I’d have tried that’. So I gave my two weeks at the plant and went down there,” he says. “I named my place Top Stitch Taylor because the first thing I ever learned was how to top stitch.”
Working within Wickizer’s Rod & Custom shop has been a win-win for both Wickizer and Holcomb. “It’s been a great situation because he has 25 years of clientele, and when they come in for full builds, they can just go ahead and get their upholstery too.”
In addition to learning from others, Holcomb attended Mobile Solutions’ four-day class in Arizona, and that’s where he met up with Randy Maggard of Moore & Giles Leather.
“I can’t say enough about Randy and Moore & Giles,” says Holcomb. “We didn’t really have a leather supplier, and they treated me like I was somebody. Even though I’ve only been doing this a few years, they didn’t treat me like I was a newbie.”
Holcomb not only raves about Moore & Giles customer service, he says the quality of their leather is first rate. “Carlyle is the best, of course, but you can put their Tribecca in a car and it’s going to be absolutely gorgeous,” he says. “ They’ve got so many color variations. And they’ll perforate it for you, or do custom quilting … they’ll skive it for you if you need it to go around AC vents or corners. I’ve told other guys that they need to go with Moore & Giles.”
Collaboration and sharing is a big part of Holcomb’s business philosophy. “I’ll be humble until the day I die,” smiles Holcomb. “ You know, I don’t care if it’s someone who has been doing it for a month or for ten years, I’ll learn from anybody. The more minds the better. Plus, there is plenty of upholstery to go around even with all the shops that are out there. There’s plenty to be had.”
Although Holcomb is still a young 28 years old, he’s clearly got an old school mindset.
“Oh yeah, I’ve always had a very old soul. And I wear overalls and drink coffee all day like my Grandpa’s generation,” he laughs. “In fact in my car club, they call me ‘Peepaw’!”
No need to worry about who will carry the old school upholstery torch. Taylor Holcomb’s got that covered.
Check out more of Taylor Holcomb's work on Instagram - @topstitchtaylor
For more information about Moore & Giles, contact Randy Maggard - email@example.com Or on Instagram: @mooreandgilesonthemove and @rbestleather