Garland Sharp's '40 Ford
Growing up in the small town of Dinuba proved to be a perfect setting for a rambunctious aspiring hot rodder. Garland Sharp has always gone against the grain a little bit ever since grade school. Instead of going to proms and athletic events he chose to wrench on cars at his dad’s Shell station garage. This is where his love affair with the automobile became a reality.
It was 1957 and the hot rod culture was alive and thriving. Garland will never forget the day a 1940 Ford two-door coupe rolled up into the expired Dinuba Buick car lot. Garlands father bought the old lot and converted it into a beautiful Shell service station. From a young age Garland and his pals were wrenching on cars at that station. Dinuba produced some true hot rodders that have made a huge impact on the industry and continue to do so today. Garland’s best buddy growing up was Gary Meadors, chairman and founder of The Goodguys Association. They were fortunate enough to be in most of the same classes from 1st grade through 12thgrade. Another pal that Garland could be spotted with often was Art Branum, better known as, “Mr. 40.” Garland and Art clicked from the beginning. They had similar interests and didn’t care much about anything other than going fast in slick hot rods.
Time flew by in high school and Garland had already owned three ‘40 Fords. His favorite ’40 was his first car ever. He purchased it from the Vapor Trailer’s car club out of Visalia for $400.00 in 1957. The car was a project that was well on its way to being something special. Garland immediately took the Ford over to Art Powell of Walleads Upholstery Shop. After Art got done creating a killer interior the car was off to his dad’s service station to create a motor that would have a reputation few would forget. After many months of wrenching Garland was ready to showcase his ‘40 for the first time. He remembers vividly cruising to the Viking Autorama alongside his sidekick Gary in his ‘48 Plymouth. At the end of the day Garland left with a second place trophy and Gary took third. That was a day that Garland will never forget.
If you knew Garland personally in his later teenage years you’d know that he was an intense driver to say the least. He liked to go fast and cruise with his Dinuba Camtwister buddies. This type of behavior led him to actively participate in totaling five different cars before his twenty-first birthday. He rolled a ‘39 Ford two-door sedan, ‘55 Chevy, & a ‘51 Chevy four-door sedan. In addition to those three he also managed to t-bone another car in his friends ‘55 Ford, which I might add he was only fifteen years old at the time. To top it off, on the night of his senior prom (which he didn’t go to because he was too cool) he was cruising in his ‘49 Ford and he managed to hit a parked car in the parking lot. The embarrassing part of this whole situation is that the car was in the parking lot of the prom. Needless to say Garland never really knew what it meant to fly under the radar.
Throughout Garland’s life he has been obsessed with 1950’s memorabilia. He was first exposed to it at his grandfather’s furniture and junk store. He would spend countless hours just looking and digging. His mom was also a collector and picker. She would take Garland to estate sales, flea markets, garage sales, you name it they where there. Garland’s explanation for his passion is simple, “It’s in my blood.”
After high school Garland enlisted in the Coast Guard for four years. When he got done serving his county he relocated to Fresno, California. He then got a job with the telephone company W.E. Once the paychecks started arriving the hobbies flared up again. Garland was right back in the thick of things building hot rods. Until one day in 1971 when he bought his first Harley Davidson. He was quickly inspired by famous bike craftsmen Arlen Ness. Building his bike with the same passion that went into his cars, Garland found his bike featured in magazines on three different occasions and even showed it at Blackie Gejeian’s Fresno Autorama. This season of his life was nothing short of wild and crazy. Garland met some pretty unique souls but says he wouldn’t change a thing about those days.
After working hard for over 38 years with the same company, Garland retired. He has now been off the job for about ten years and you wouldn’t believe what he has done with his time. He now gets to enjoy his countless hours with his three children, nine grandchildren, and his beautiful bride.
If you find yourself in the Fort Washington Country Club area you might see a white haired, black shades wearing, Ford Taurus wagon cruising, gentleman pulling up to a Madonna Inn inspired home. If you ever get a chance to check out his estate you might find it hard to find in the middle of the most exquisite sago farm I have ever seen. Aside from being known to many as the “Sago Man” Garland also has nothing short of an obsession with the 1950's. I would put his collection up against anybodies. The good news is that most of it is for sale for the right price. Currently Garland is exploring the thought of setting up at a new retail location or taking his mobile 50's room to a car show near you.
About thirteen years ago, Garland and his buddies decided that they wanted to start their own car club. One that was extremely kick back and slim on rules. That led to the creation of Hot Rods Fresno. That first year of the clubs conception they put on a get together at Mikes Bar in Friant, California. The hot rod community really supported the club events and Garland and the boys eventually had to find a bigger venue. It was then when Garland and sidekick of a brother, Ray were eating in tower and they thought to themselves, “This could be a perfect spot for a show.”
Years later, Garland is currently gearing up for the 11th annual Hot Rods of Fresno car show. This automotive extravaganza hosts 500 plus hot rods and entertains over ten thousand enthusiasts. The Tower Show has proven to be the valley’s premier hot rod show due to the hard work and dedication Garland and the guys put into it.
Today Garland is still one of the most active men I know. He is always doing, creating, attending, investing, collecting something somewhere. He appreciates everyday he wakes up because he knows how special life is. Often reminiscing on his irreplaceable memories with his best friend and brother Ray Garland, he has still managed to live everyday of his life to the fullest. He would like to thank his beautiful bride Charlene for being the best thing that ever happened to him, all the guys from the Hot Rods of Fresno, the fella’s from Dinuba; whether it be from his partying days or his taking life easy days, and last but not least, Ray, his right hand man and the person he could always count on for having too much fun.