1-844-477-7707 (US only)
(920) 684-4990 (International) | Contact Us

1-844-477-7707 (US only)
(920) 684-4990 (International) | Contact Us

Pursuit of Perfection: Murpho’s Rods and Customs

Listening to Murpho, owner of Murpho’s Rods and Customs in Austin, Texas, you can’t help but sense the peace and wisdom of a man who’s found his niche in life. “What do I do?” He reflected, “I think really what I do is… an endless pursuit of perfection. It’s… not quantifiable, this thing, perfection, but it’s elusive and you chase it.”

As a fabricator and restorer, Murpho understands that the goal of perfection not only defines the end result, but also the approach to every step along the way: “underlying this chase… the elusive perfection, it’s art and… in the medium of metal, it’s trying to do the next car better than the last one, trying to execute doing each one of these mundane tasks better than the last time and always trying to hang on to the passion.”

You can hear Murpho’s enduring passion for cars in what he says—and see it in the exquisite detail of his finished projects. “My work has completely consumed me, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. It’s always cars. You’re not going to get anything really more from me than cars. It’s what I think. It’s what I breathe. It’s what I live. It’s what I smell. It’s what I smell like,” he added with a laugh, “and it just has consumed my lifetime.”

Murpho recalled that he’s been involved with cars since he was 14. “It just started to hook me really, really young. Like a lot of guys my age, [I] first was into muscle cars and street racing. [It] really was the thing to… have, like, your Camaro be a race car.”

In the late 1980s, Murpho remembered, “I did a lot of mini truck stuff, which was really challenging in those days because there were no parts. And what we had to do is design and execute and kind of engineer stuff. In high school, I took all the classes… the metal shop stuff and welding and all the auto stuff that I could.”

Now in his fifties, Murpho can look back on “a lifetime of of cars” and relish the more creative side of what he does instead of the need for speed: “I like to… roll in the art… and I don’t mind going slow and… just enjoying the drive and enjoying the car.

For this Baileigh Biography video, we visited Murpho’s bustling shop with 32 car projects in the works. You’ll see, in Mupho’s words, “a little bit of everything out here. We got some resto mod stuff. We got several customs, several hot rods.” And outside there are even more vehicles, the “north 40… hanging out and waiting to get their turn in hot rod heaven, to come in and become something again.”

In the assembly area, Murpho pointed out a “pretty sweet” 1928 Essex and a Model A. Gleaming in the light, a 1942 Chevy truck was “getting ready to go home.” When we stopped by, the crew also had a chassis in progress for an El Camino.

Murpho showed us the body of a Ford Zephyr that a customer brought in before cutting a deal to sell it. The client was “doing two or three cars at the same time and, once this kind of started to get to where it was going to go custom, he kind of wasn’t feeling like he was a custom guy…. I’ll be getting to work on this car and I think it’ll probably be the next one that I kind of finish for myself and be rolling around in. Hopefully it won’t take 10 years, but it’s pretty cool to have a car on the shop floor again.”

When we stopped by, Murpho noted that there are “14 guys… working on the floor right now.” He praised the team’s skill and knowledge: “I’m working with some folks out there that know a lot more than me and I’m always trying to surround myself with people that are more talented than me if I can.

Mupho drew our attention to a 1948 Oldsmobile, shining a delicious shade of brown. “I painted this car. I get to paint every now and again and so I’m pretty stoked to have gotten the booth and got a chance to pour some syrup on something.” 

In recent years, Murpho has focused on the metal shaping side of things. “I’ll come in and play on the hammer and do stuff. Just because I can’t kind of get away from it now. Metal has become kind of the thing and it’s cool. Metal is a really, really fun thing, and I like the metal to be happy. In the end, I really like happy metal.

How do you make metal happy? Well, lots of “cool Baileigh toys” may have something to do with it. “We all love our tools,” Murpho said. “I don’t know what we’d be doing without our Baileigh stuff.

Murpho’s Rods and Customs is chock full of Baileigh machines: bead roller, planishing hammer, shrinker stretcher, sander… the list goes on and on. Each has its job to do. For instance, “My small band saw’s kind of the go-to for a lot of the little small stuff we do all the time.” Of the Baileigh mill drill lathe, Murpho said, “It’s great. We use it every day.”

The massive MH-19 power hammer has been getting a lot of use in Pullmax mode lately, Murpho told us. “We’ve been building some dies and we just made the window reveals… around the outside of the doors on the truck over there… with some tooling that we made. And that’s been a lot of fun to get creative and make the dies and do that stuff.”

As for his Baileigh English wheel, it might be time for a size up: “I’ve been using this wheel for a long time and it does great, but I think it’s time to maybe go for the next version.”

“So this is kind of my little Baileigh corner over here.” Murpho identified a slip roll, a finger break, a magnetic brake, and a big shear.

The crew at Murpho’s has put their Baileigh tools to the test: “Man, we’ve hammered on these things. We’ve been using these tools for a long while,” Murpho attested. “I had to pick up my tool game a lot after I got to Texas and the shop really started to take off and grow here. Gosh, I must have like 12, 13, 14 Baileigh tools that are instrumental now in our process every day.”

From Murpho’s vantage point in the industry, Baileigh’s influence has given rise to “a huge kind of upsurge in the metal shaper community. I think that… what Baileigh has done has created this kind of network.”

He’s witnessed the power of Baileigh’s social media presence. “I think it’s important to recognize the support that Baileigh brings to you. And when you’re in and they run your stuff and they post your stuff, it’s a big, big deal and it comes back to you like tenfold,” Murpho said. “I would encourage… anybody out there who’s trying to get into this line and this world and do the stuff that they look at Bailey as their go-to flagship company to work with.”

The #BaileighArmy bump can help fabricators, regardless of business size or scope, get noticed and strike gold. As Murpho explained, “for all of us, you know, whether it’s somebody like me with a big shop or somebody at home or a small shop or what have you… if you can get involved with them [Baileigh] and have their support behind you, it’s a really a great resource or an asset that is out there for guys in this industry to go rely on and to take advantage of.” 

And exposure matters when it comes to sharing your creations with the widest possible audience. For Murpho, one of the most fulfilling aspects of his craft comes from watching how his art speaks to the world at large. 

The reward really isn’t something I quantify monetarily. The reward is… watching the cars go out into the world… and seeing how they’re received by the masses, by the public,” he said, “and whether or not… people are going to see or perceive them the way that I did or get what we’re trying to do, that’s really the juice for me in the whole thing.”

Another rewarding dimension of the shop for Murpho arises from his daughter’s involvement. “I’m fortunate now I have one of my kids involved on a daily [basis] here. My daughter, Taylor, has taken a great interest in painting and custom cars and she’s here doing that stuff, which means a lot to me. I enjoy my days a lot having her here and having her see what I do and what my world has become.”

Looking forward, Murpho would like to know that Taylor, another member of the family, and/or his crew will keep the shop’s work going strong someday: “I think ultimately that if there was some way for the name or the shop to continue, whether it’s with her or my grandson or some other kids… where the guys in the shop maybe could do something to carry on, I think that would be the ultimate.”

Murpho’s pursuit of perfection and the impressive vehicles it produces set an example for the next generation. “I think the legacy is through the hard work and the hours, the painstaking hours and decades and years and everything to do these things. I think that becomes the legacy,” he concluded, “the work that you leave behind.”

Follow Murpho’s Rods and Customs on Instagram.

Check out Murpho’s Rods and Customs on Facebook.

Share This

Leave a Comment