Rod Riguez: The definition of a Japanese ‘Rod and Custom’

Los Angeles is home to a very rich and vibrant car culture, one including everything from pristine and preserved classics to custom creations and modified muscle cars. It is considered a major hub for the automotive scene and aftermarket world. Over the weekend, the South Hall of the Los Angeles Convention Center was the site of the second annual Classic Auto Show, inspired by its British counterpart — the Classic Motor Show.

Among the cars on display was a 1930 Ford Model A Tudor Sedan owned by Chuck Schauwecker of Carson, California. The hot rod, known as “Rod Riguez” blends hot rod, custom and lowrider styling cues in a special way that for many has become the definition of a Japanese rod and custom, and certainly has helped pave the way for the emerging scene in the early-2000’s.

1930 Ford Model A Tudor Sedan

The Tudor Sedan was built by Junichi Shimodaira of Paradise Road in Nagoya, Japan. His idols are George Barris and Ed Roth.

According to Schauwecker, the build began in 2002 with Junichi reworking the original frame. His goal was to achieve a low stance, so the height of the car was brought down by “Z’ing the frame” 6-inches in the rear and 4-inches up front. It was then boxed for additional strength and the firewall had to be cut out before Junichi could fit the body on it.

Build details

The body work performed included reworking the leading edge of the cowl which also received a peak on each side. A new nose was made that incorporated canted quad headlights, 1959 Cadillac front bumper ends, round tubing and sheet metal. The grille opening was filled with expanded metal mesh and hardware store coat hooks. At the rear, inverted 1958 Chevrolet parking-light bezels were frenched into sculpted pods to serve as taillights.

1949 Oldsmobile Rocket 303 c.i. V8

For a show rod look, the engine, a 1949 Oldsmobile Rocket 303 c.i. V8, received a fogged gold paint job, chromed valve covers, a custom dual-inlet carburetor scoop, custom made rippled headers and plenty of chrome. It was hooked to the original Hydra-matic transmission and complimented by a TCI dropped axle kit with GM Caliber disc brakes up front, while a Chevrolet 10-bolt rear end with tube shocks and a TCI spring were added in the rear.

Inside, the dash and gauge panel were left mostly stock, but Junichi made new seats from scratch that were mounted to the floor.

According to Schauwecker, once the hot rod was completed it made a dazzling debut at the 2002 Yokohama Hot Rod Custom Show where it was awarded the Street Rodder’s Pick Award, and the Best Street Rod and the Best Body Work award.

After the show, Junichi tore it down for a second rendition.

As a result, the top was chopped in a unique wedge fashion. The rear of it was left at stock height, while the A and B pillars were cut four and two inches to bring the top down.

Junichi wanted to run fenders, but he didn’t want to add running boards, so he crafted the wildly sculpted fenders seen on the car today. The Front fender mounts were made from reinforced steel in a spider-web design and chromed before installed on the car.

The second version was fit with a new grille insert fabricated from square tubing as well. A gold R was placed in the center of the new grille insert. Inside, new custom made seats were installed along with a cut down early 1960s Ford steering wheel and the car received a gloss Tequila Gold paint job and pin striping by Makoto. The wide white wall tires and chromed steelies were replaced by Cragar Star Wire Wheels that ran 1960s style white stripe tires.

The second version of “Rod Riguez” returned for the 2003 Yokohama Hot Rod Custom Show and earned Junichi the 2003 Hot Rod Custom Show Best of Show, the George Barris’ Pick Award, the Street Rodder’s Pick Award and the Line Dr.’s’ Pick Award.

In 2005 the car was shipped to the United States so it could be entered in the 2005 Grand National Roadster Show and the 2005 Cruisin’ Nationals in Paso Robles. Consequently, the car stayed in the United States and was sold to Schauwecker in October of that year.

Photography by Nicole Ellan James

Photo gallery


About the author

Nicole Ellan James

As an automotive journalist and avid car enthusiast, Nicole Ellan James has a passion for automotive that is reflected in every aspect of her lifestyle. Follow Nicole on Instagram and Facebook - @nicoleeellan
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