Gary Joseph Fioto was born November 1, 1954 on Long Island, NY to Sal & Edythe Fioto. From day one, Gary was full of non-stop energy and searching for new adventures. Growing up in Long Beach, NY, Gary loved the beach and learned to surf. From a young age, Gary was fascinated with anything on wheels. His father was an ace mechanic and owned many gas stations. Gary would work in the service station filling oil cans and was re-building carburetors by age 5. Gary participated in many other activities as he grew, including building models cars, custom chopper bicycles, competing in National championship speed skating, and winning the Aurora slot car champion award.
At age 11, Gary started his customizing career by chopping his first car. He received his “Chopit” moniker from a neighbor who would see the chopped cars in the street. Shortly after, he started “Gary’s Towing” with the help of his father. They began buying junk cars and selling them to local junkyards. At 17, Gary purchased his first bike, a 1951 Panhead. He built it and had it on the road within a few months. He borrowed a license plate and rode from New York to Canada, then down to Florida on a six month excursion.
Gary developed many skills, all of which he attributed to being self taught. From the late 1960’s until 1998, Gary worked out of his home garage, building wild hot rods, customs, and motorcycles. You could always find him working and having friends stop by. He was a people person and always took the time to show his creations.
In 1974, he met his dream girl, Cindy, and asked her to marry him on their first date. Within weeks, her name was tattooed on his arm and the two were inseparable. Ten years later, they married, (Cindy didn't want to rush into anything) and moved into their home in Levittown, NY. In 1990, they welcomed their first born son, Nicholas. Gary never forgot Nick’s first Christmas; Santa brought him remote control cars, a pedal car, & ride on bike. Gary played for hours. Soon after, Fabian and Tiffany were born. Fabian was the terror that Gary’s father would warn; “You’re gonna have a son just like you!” Tiffany was and will always be his one and only Princess. With each child Gary had a special bond. Gary was the most supportive and loving husband and father.
Gary lived life to the fullest, always creating and looking for the next challenge. In 2004, the family decided a change of pace was needed and relocated to Florida. Gary enjoyed being close to the beach and spending time with dear friends. After six years, he finally decided to fulfill his longtime dream and relocate once more, to California.
Known for his outstanding attention to detail and unique taste, many would ask Gary how he was able to create such stunning works of rolling art. He would simply respond “My wife, she gives me peace of mind”. Customizing was his therapy. Gary never needed paper; his creations were in his head. Over the years, he created cars such as “Potion” & “Tuffenuff” Mercuries, “Pipeline” ’40 Chevy, “Beatnik” Bubbletop, & “Floorless” ’32 Ford, to name a few.
Gary lived life in the fast lane, 50 years of building kustoms, always having a good time, and telling his surreal childhood stories. New York was and always will be his home. Though he left us too soon, he accomplished more than most could ever dream. We have his love and memory forever in our hearts. Rest In Peace Daddy ‘O’, we will never forget you.