Leach’s talents were visible at an early age. He first picked up a welding torch as a curious grade-school student and, by the age of 14, had already taught himself to weld, build and fabricate cars, working out of his parents’ garage. He restored his first car, a ’37 Ford, back to new condition before he turned 16.
After college, Leach apprenticed at Rad Rides by Troy in Manteno, Illinois, using his fresh ideas and high level of fabrication skills to assist Troy Trepanier in building award-winning custom creations.
In 2009, he got an opportunity to step out on his own, laying the foundation for a hot-rod and custom-car empire. Leach and his team at Cal Auto Creations took home the 50th annual Ridler award in 2013 for a ’40 Ford coupe they built for Leach’s business partner Ron Cizek. The blown Flathead-Ford-powered coupe, known as “Checkered Past,” went on to be named Goodguys’ Street Rod of the Year and was the signature car for the entire 2013 season. As a result, his shop is now full of projects, including post-war hot rods, ’60s touring cars and ’70s muscle.
Past recipients of the Goodguys Trendsetter Award include Chip Foose, Troy Trepanier, Alan Johnson, Eric Peratt, Tim Strange, Dave Lane, Zane Cullen, Dean Livermore, Jesse Greening, Troy Ladd, J.F. Launier, Phil and Jeremy Gerber, Mike and Jim Ring, Dave Kindig and Jonathan Goolsby and Josh Henning.