Rod Riguez: This Japan-Built American-made Car Has Latin Blood

We tend to see things through red, white, and blue colored glasses at the car shows that we typically attend. Recently our vision improved and we were able to get a look through international spectacles to find a real jewel. A spiced up Ford with rising sun flavor.

The Rod Riguez hot rod has been appearing at the Edelbrock car show since 2006 with the exception of one year. Chuck Schauwecker has made a point of bringing this special award winning car to the enthusiasts that travel to Torrance for Edelbrock’s annual event.

While Schauwecker may currently have possession of the car, he states clearly: “Even though I bought the car in October of 2005, I don’t feel like I own it. It is merely in my possession till I pass it on to someone else.”

Originally built by Junichi Shimodaira in his Paradise Road rod shop in Nagoya, Japan, the country’s third largest incorporated city. Shimodaira’s shop, opened in 1987, became an international sensation in 2002 when he took the stock 1930 Ford Model A Tudor and created the Rod Riguez show car.  This car helped propel the Japanese Kustom car scene in the early 2000s.

Junichi’s Inspiration

Junichi took a lot of styling cues from his idol and kustom kar icon, Ed “Big Daddy” Roth to build the unusual rod. The original frame was z’d six-inches in the rear and four-inches in the front to give the car it’s stance. He boxed the frame for extra strength before adding the stock 1949 Olds Rocket 303ci V8 engine and Hydramatic transmission.

When it came to the suspension, Junichi used a TCI Engineering dropped axle kit with GM disc brakes in the front and a Chevy 10-bolt rearend with tube shocks and TCI Engineering springs in the rear. In addition to the Z’d frame, the Paradise Road crew eventually channeled the body to make it sit even lower in the second iteration of the build.

The firewall and engine cowl had to be massively reworked to fit the lowered stance and massive Olds engine. Using a 1959 Cadillac front bumper ends as a base, he added round tubing and sheet metal to create a completely new nose for the car – complete with canted quad headlights.

The original form included a fogged gold paint scheme with plenty of chrome for a show car appearance. The unique rod made its debut appearance without fenders at the 2002 Yokohama Hot Rod Custom Show in December of that year. Taking home several awards, including the Best Street Rod and Best Body Work awards.

Shortly after the show the car was torn down for a redo of some modifications Junichi wanted to make. The body was chopped and channeled resulting in a more raked looking stance. Hand fabricated fenders were added along with some other interesting aesthetic changes. The most striking change was the gloss Tequila Gold paint job with pinstriping by fellow Japan artist Makoto.

More Awards

This version of the rod went back to the 2003 Yokohama Hot Rod Custom Show where it won Best of Show, and the George Barris Pick award among others. Rod Riguez was shipped to the U.S. in 2005 for the show circuit, starting with the Grand National Roadster Show. After collecting awards at the GNRS, Cruisin’ Nationals, and other events, Junichi sold the car to current owner Chuck Schauwecker.

Schauwecker has no current plans to part with Rod Riguez, and he loves showing the car to other enthusiasts, pointing out some of the unique build specifics that others may have missed. We can’t wait to see the Rod Riguez custom at next year’s Edelbrock car show. You can never get enough of a good thing.

About the author

Bobby Kimbrough

Bobby grew up in the heart of Illinois, becoming an avid dirt track race fan which has developed into a life long passion. Taking a break from the Midwest dirt tracks to fight evil doers in the world, he completed a full 21 year career in the Marine Corps.
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