The George Barris-Inspired Hot Rod That Changed One Man’s Life


Seventeen years ago, Chuck Schauwecker, a California resident, pulled out of his driveway with his eldest son to attend a car show at Ricky and Ronnie’s in Torrance. Later that evening, a 1930 Model A Ford hot rod pulled into the parking lot and everyone stopped what it was doing to watch. The hot rod driver backed the car into a gap and dropped him, setting him up in a mean-looking squat position.

That same week, Schauwecker bought the hot rod and towed it around the country to give others a chance to see it and revel in its unique look. Now, nearly two decades later, it’s for sale and he says it’s time someone else took advantage of it. Schauwecker hopes it’s someone who gets it out sometime, not just sticks it on the floor of a museum exhibit, and maybe enjoys the same connections and opportunities the car has given him over the years. year.

When the car first stopped, George Barris and his unusual designs came to mind, but Schauwecker thought, “Why haven’t I seen this car before?” Schauwecker’s son, Curtis, began talking to the owner of the car painted in Tequila Gold, inquiring about the build. After 15 or 20 minutes, Curtis drew his father into the conversation and told him that the owner, Junichi Shimodaira, was from Nagoya, Japan and that he was looking to sell the car instead of paying thousands of dollars for it. return to his hometown. . Schauwecker pulled out a sheet of paper and a pen to jot down a suggested purchase price.

Three days later, Schauwecker received a call from a friend of Shimodaira to accept his offer: $40,000 in cash.

What Schauwecker didn’t know at the time was that Shimodaira, the creator of this Barris-inspired build, is a rock star of the Japanese lowrider scene. Shimodaira opened a store in Nagoya called Paradise Road, and his fame skyrocketed after the Yokohama Hot Rod Custom Show in 2002, where he showcased this same car.

The 1930 Ford Model A Tudor Sedan, nicknamed “Rod-Riguez”, is equipped with a 1949 Oldsmobile Rocket V8 engine producing 303 hp. Spinning the wheels is a 4-speed Hydramatic transmission. It features handcrafted fenders and a branded custom grille, and Shimodaira used a bumper from a ’59 Cadillac with French 1958 Chevrolet parking light bezels. He installed the steel reinforced and chrome cobweb front fender brackets and replaced the original wide whitewall tires and chrome steels with Cragar Star Wire Wheels wheels with white stripe tires of 1960s styling. Finishing off, stripes by Japanese artist Makoto Kobayashi of M&K Custom Signs wrap around the hot rod.

Inside, a custom interior features 1960s Tijuana-style cloth-covered bucket seats and the mostly original dash and dashboard. An early 1960s Ford steering wheel has been cut to create a yoke-style tool.

The result is an incredibly beautiful hot rod that Schauwecker has proudly owned for 17 years. And now, he told me, he’s 82 and it’s time to sell him so he can keep running and bring the joy he brought to others. Until the pandemic, Schauwecker towed the car to show it two or three times a month. Then he ended up contracting Covid himself and he struggled to recover for almost three months.

“I almost died,” Schauwecker told me grimly. “It zapped all my energy. Last year, my oldest son and I decided to go to a show in El Segundo, and I had to ask him to help me put it in the trailer. I just couldn’t do it myself I knew it was time to get rid of it I don’t want it sitting in my garage without anyone looking at it and I pray that someone one gets it and keeps it on display.

Over the years the car has been featured in hot rod magazine and other publications, TV show My rules of conduct and the movie Licorice Pizza. But what impacted Schauwecker’s life the most were the people and the opportunities it brought to his life. First and foremost, he and Shimodaira have stayed in touch, texting and talking to each other frequently, and seeing each other whenever Shimodaira is in the United States.

“Junichi and his wife used to go out every year and drop by to see their ‘kid,'” Schauwecker told me. “It was heartbreaking when he sold it; his wife cried.

The car has won several George Barris Choice trophies, and Schauwecker is grateful to have had the chance to know Barris personally before his death in 2015. For Barris’ funeral, the family asked Schauwecker to bring Rod-Riguez, and he was honored. obligate. The Californian has pictures of himself with celebrity enthusiasts like Jay Leno and Dick Van Dyke, and he’s grateful for whatever hot rod brought to his door.

“The way this car changed my life is through the people I got to meet, the places I was invited to…it was amazing,” Schauwecker said. “It opened doors for me that I never thought I could open for myself.”

Rod-Riguez hits the block at the Barrett-Jackson auction in Las Vegas today. Schauwecker and his old friend Junichi Shimodaira will watch and hope it goes to a good home.

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