West Coast Customs
Corona, CA, 951-284-0680, westcoastcustoms.com
Video may have killed the radio star, but reality TV has downright annihilated the reputation and cred of more than a rising luminary or two. That could have been the story of West Coast Customs, but the California-based powerhouse of builds, which first became a household name from Pimp My Ride, has worked to reposition itself as a no-nonsense center of automotive customization. With a more grown-up series entitled Street Customs currently airing on TLC, owner Ryan Friedlinghaus and his innovative staff have become the best friends of car collectors too impatient for manufacturer waiting lists. “That’s really where I see the future of my business going,” he speculates. “We’ve redesigned Mercedes models from sedans into coupes, we’re working on a line of two-door Dodge Chargers, and Shaq has us building a convertible S-Class Benz, which will be the first of its kind anywhere.” A recent client from the Middle East, unable to convince Land Rover to sell its Range Stormer concept vehicle, commissioned WCC to build him his own. With a Range Rover Sport as an organ donor, Friedlinghaus and his crew not only replicated the concept but tailored the vehicle to its owner’s exact specifications. Friedlinghaus has also set his sights on going global. “We’re the only custom shop to have opened up branches all across the world,” he says. “Right now we’re in Malaysia, Japan, Dubai, and Russia. And we’re filming the buildup of our latest shop in Germany for the show.” The expansion is not about adaptation. “We’re not going overseas to create a [German] West Coast Customs. We’re bringing the American West Coast Customs experience to them,” he explains. “Besides, I think that’s what they want. And we’re determined to give our supporters exactly what they want.” Just don’t ask him to put a fish tank in your station wagon.