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California collision repair industry icon, Richard Mario “Dick” Bertolucci, passes

Bertolucci was the founder of Bertolucci’s Body and Fender Shop in Sacramento and a longtime contributor to the car-building world

Sacramento, Calif.—Longtime California collision repair industry veteran and icon Richard Mario “Dick” Bertolucci died peacefully on Oct. 12. He was 92.

Bertolucci was the founder of Bertolucci’s Body and Fender Shop in Sacramento and a longtime member and supporter of the California Autobody Association (CAA). He was also one of the founding members of the Sacramento Auto Body Association (SABA), which later became the Capitol Chapter of CAA.

He founded family-owned Bertolucci’s Body and Fender Shop in 1948, which has grown to become one of the largest in Northern California today, with a capacity to repair more than 100 vehicles concurrently.

Throughout his life, Bertolucci was honored regularly for his contributions to the car-building world. He was one of the original founding members of the Capitol Auto Club (now known as the Thunderbolts Capital Auto Club), which is recognized as the oldest, continuously meeting street rod club in the country, according to his obituary notice.

Bertolucci also started what has become the Sacramento Autorama, in 1950, which is the second longest running indoor car show in the world and showcases the best hot rods, custom cars, and motorcycles, his family stated.

In late 1999, the Sacramento Autorama named a new award, the “Dick Bertolucci Automotive Excellence” award, to any entrant of a 1972 or older hot rod or custom car that met his personal criteria for assembly, fit, finish, and detail. The first recipient was named in 2000, and this yearly Autorama award continues to this day.

On Feb. 6, 2000, Bertolucci was inducted into the Sacramento Autorama Legends Hall of Fame, and he was also the recipient of the 2009 Sacramento Autorama Builder of the Year Award. In 2020, Bertolucci received the honor of being named the “Builder of the Decade” at the annual Sacramento Autorama.

He was also honored as a “Hot Rod Hero” at the Goodguys Rod & Custom Association Southwest Nationals event held at Infineon Raceway, in Sonoma, in May of 2005. In addition, Bertolucci was inducted into the Grand National Roadster Show (GNRS) Hall of Fame in Pomona, in January 2009, as an “outstanding pioneer in the creative car building sport.”

His career began early when, at 13, with permission from his father, he bought his first car, a 1933 Chevy roadster that he spotted at a used car lot in downtown Sacramento for $125, his obituary stated. The first thing he and his father did was to change out the motor for something bigger, thus starting his passion for drag racing. This was the first of many car projects that Bertolucci would undertake in his lifetime.

He was very active for years with the Sacramento Valley Region of the Vintage Chevrolet Club of America, and traveled the country showing his cars, often winning “Best of Show” and “People’s Choice” with his most recently restored classic. In 1980, Bertolucci returned to the vintage drags racetrack with his custom built vintage dragster, the “X-100.” He raced well into his 80s.

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