Speed and Custom

C&R Automotive

Posted by Johnny Promo

Our first story in Speed and Custom’s “Builder Profiles” section has to begin with a guy named Chris. Chris Piaggi owns a small one man operated Speed Shop called “C and R Automotive”.

Builder Profile

C&R Automotive

Chris just happens to be John Pavlovich’ s best friend and it was these two who built the BurgerFuel sponsored Supercharged Flathead Dragster the “P & P Special”, featured in Speed and Custom’s “Historic” section elsewhere on this site. Chris is the guy however that has taken care of all the BurgerFuel fleet of Classic cars since day one and has done everything for us from full engine swaps to monthly servicing, whatever it takes to keep our special purple cars on the road. You’ll see a lot of his work on this site but for now lets get the history. 

A Lifetime Of Customising Cars

Chris’s story starts well Before BurgerFuel as Chris had gained fame for his Hot Rodding exploits both here in New Zealand and in America where he once worked for the famous “MOON Equipment” company in Santa Fe Springs, California. 

If you don’t know, Dean Moon started a Speed Shop up in the fifties and built a reputation for innovative equipment for the world of Drag Racing, Hot Rodding and Land Speed Racing. Chris moved to the states in the early eighties and landed a job at Moon, working with automotive legends like Bill Jenks who had been grinding Potvin camshaft’s since the 40’s and machinist extraordinaire Fred Larsen. Fred worked with Carol Shelby when the first Cobra was built at Moons shop way back in 1962. Fred was most famous though for Land Speed racing where he broke countless world records in his amazing garage built “Streamliner”. Chris got on great with these guys due to his passion for cars and his humble likable nature.

Chris continued to hone his skills there at Moon for several years and took almost every opportunity to experience the California car culture while living and working at its very epicentre. This also included taking trips to “El Mirage” and re building the famous Mooneyes Dragster and Deans very own 34 Roadster as well as the Devin Bodied “Moonbeam” sports car. Chris also had the good fortune to work on Moons Streamliner with the original builder Jocko Johnston and this even gave Chris the opportunity to drive the car at a California Dry Lake. Chris did it all before finally returning home to NZ in 86 where he then started his own shop, C and R Automotive, co founded the Scroungers car Club and instigated the now famous “Hot Rod Blowout” show.

It was way back in 1978 however when Chris and John had actually first met, cruising around Queen Street in old American cars. It was here that their friendship started when John agreed to paint Chris’s 1958 Ford “Jumpin Jack flash”.

The guys were both doing trades at the time, Chris as an Automotive Electrician and John as A car Painter and so over the next few decades the two joined forces on many projects as diverse as the 50,s era flat-bottom race boat they rebuilt to Chris’s 38 Ford Drag Coupe and years later the Famous record breaking BurgerFuel Altered. Chris’s accomplishments however go well beyond that in the world of Hot Rodding though, as through his business he as accumulated 100 s of engine and car builds to his credit as well as collecting an enviable museum full of the most rare and valuable engine parts known in new Zealand, all collected on his many trips to the USA and from around countless “swap meets” in New Zealand. 

Around the world Hot Rodder’s know and admire Chris through his exploits although most have never met him, those that have are always amazed at what he has accomplished and the quality of his work and clever engineering. He is a humble guy and here at BurgerFuel we think were pretty lucky to have someone look after our cars the way he does.