Almost every human being with access to the net or cable TV has heard of the shop West Coast Customs, made famous by the MTV show "Pimp My Ride," and its work on big-name celebrity cars. West Coast Customs has come a long way from the garage of owner Ryan Friedlinghaus. Most people probably don't remember, Ryan made his mark in the minitruckin' scene and first appearance in Mini Truckin' magazine on the cover of the Nov. '97 issue with his mini Blazer, which was dubbed Highly Explosive. This was long before any TV shows began to air custom work to the world.
Ryan's 4-Runner and he's held onto it for a possible rebuild, and bring back it out on the
But it didn't stop there. Ryan also had his blue Mazda B2200, named West Coast Lo- Lo, featured in the Oct. '98 issue. As Ryan began to build a bigger crew at the shop, many jobs that were previously outsourced were done in-house. In fact, he returned to Mini Truckin's cover with the infamous Laid Runner for MT Oct. '99, which was the first completed full-custom 4-Runner.
Getting a start in the minitruckin' world, West Coast Customs has now grown to be one of the world's premier builders with an unbelievable amount of talent. An average build, that might be built for a celebrity or shipped to one of WCC's franchises in Dubai, Germany, Australia, and others can run anywhere from $200,000 or more. But, the succes of West Coast Customs and Ryan Friedlinghaus has not been an easy road.
Not being happy with the direction and style of "Pimp My Ride," Ryan sought a new venture where he could build custom cars more to his style and taste. When WCC landed the Street Customs and Kingz of Customs tour, they had officially hit the proverbial nail on the head. Finally getting to show off their real talents in building some of the craziest custom cars the world has ever seen, the WCC crew can really shine. They quickly outgrew a couple of their old facilities and employees and Ryan created a dream team with talent in every corner.
Here's something Sean and the WCC crew have been working on, a new Mustang with '69 Mustan
This brings us to the head fabricator, Sean Mahaney, whose name might sound familiar to some of the really old-skool minitruckers out there. We interviewed Sean down at the shop to share a little minitruckin' history and give some insight on his journey through the years.
We spent the day with Sean to take in his years of knowledge, as he began with minitrucks way back in 1986. Sean opened up a shop called Trendsetters, and he was actually one of the first to put air shocks on all four corners of a truck to lay it completely out. He appeared in numerous tech articles in some of the earliest issues of Mini Truckin' from 1988 to 1992. Sean did it all. From hydraulics to air shocks to channeling to suicide doors; you name it and Sean was doing it. And he got people excited before many even knew about it. He actually met Mike Shartsis, former Editor of MT, who was then into Mustangs and performance, but Sean steered him towards the minitrucks. In fact, Sean was one of the original members of Relaxed Atmosphere and was in California Cruizers before that.
Here's a pic of Sean, 10 years ago at one of MIC's "pimp 'n' ho" parties.
Many people came through Trendsetters to get work done and eventually some guys were hired on to help and learn the trade. John Tundro, aka J.T., first started working for Sean at Trendsetters and then went on to start Stage 1 Customs, which was also featured in many of the early tech articles of Mini Truckin'. Eventually, J.T. later went on to work for Robby Gordon, where he built some of the baddest off-road suspensions to date.
Well, back to Sean. He took a job at CNC Hydraulics, where he built hydraulic cylinders and still built trucks on the side. Then, he was approached to build a few rides for Master Image Customs (MIC), before they got their start, back when it was just a detailing business. Sean eventually became the head builder. After a couple of years, health issues began to weigh heavily on Sean. He had to take some time off to address all of the years of laying on cold concrete and breathing in burnt undercoating. With his health back on track, Sean began to do different jobs for many different people. After a short break, Sean and Ryan got together and the rest, as they say, is history.
Sean's been at West Coast Customs for a little more than three years and enjoys everything, except for the crazy deadlines. What he's most happy about is getting to build cars the way he wants-without a TV show telling him how it should be done.
Ryan Friedlinghaus and Sean Mahaney: both minitruckers who have succeeded and are living the dream. West Coast Customs is back on track and building some amazing rides the way they know they should be built. It's a true success story that goes to show: anything is possible if you really put your mind to it. A very special thanks to Sean for the tour. We can't wait to see what you guys do next.
Here's a look at Sean Mahaney hopping a truck he built out front of CNC Hydraulics.
Sean stands next to his amigo out front of his shop, Trendsetters, and shows off the lifte
There's proof around the shop that minitruckers do work there.