West Coast Customs was founded by auto enthusiast Ryan Friedlinghaus in the 1990s. Ryan had been customizing vehicles from a young age, and his work had been featured on the covers of many car magazines by the time he was just 14. A growing frustration from dealing with many different specialty shops combined with his love of custom cars prompted him to open his own shop. His business quickly gained a reputation for doing excellent work, and it wasn’t long before Ryan found himself doing custom jobs for high-profile celebrities like Shaquille O’Neal. He quickly developed more famous contacts, which led to him landing a spot on the MTV show Pimp My Ride. This development took his business to a whole new level and made him somewhat of a celebrity himself.
Updated April 2022: If you’re a fan of Ryan Friedlinghaus and his crew at West Coast Customs, you’ll be happy to know that we’ve updated this article with even more info about some of their best and worst builds.
Ryan and his talented staff at West Coast Customs left Pimp My Ride after four seasons, as his business expanded, but he soon had his own show, Inside West Coast Customs, on the Discovery Channel. If you’re familiar with West Coast Customs, you’ll know that they’ve done some jaw-dropping customizations on all sorts of vehicles. They can take a beater and turn it into a mean machine, and he can take a mean machine and make it even more ferocious. Of course, even the most talented artists and innovators fail every so often, and West Coast Customs is no different. Let’s take a gander at 10 of the worst and 10 of the best cars from West Coast Customs.
18 The Thumping Toyota Sienna (Best)
Most people associate minivans with soccer moms, but that isn’t always the case as this 2015 Toyota Sienna clearly proves. The crew at West Coast Customs teamed up with SiriusXM, and the results were breathtaking, as they brought the spirit of the ‘Swagger Wagon’ to a new level. It’s obvious from the outside that this is no ordinary van, as it has a 360-degree column that boasts a pair of 40-inch LCD screens, four booming subwoofers, a whopping 16 speakers, and a couple of LED bars that rise out of the roof.
This entertainment system is connected to two 32-band equalizers and—get this—five amplifiers. The shiny red paint and the darkly tinted windows nicely complement the custom rims, and the floor that extends from the rear of this rocking vehicle looks like it’s the place to be if you want to show your moves and be noticed. The ‘Swagger Wagon’ is just as impressive on the inside as it is on the outside, although you might need a VIP pass to get in there. There’s an extensive DJ booth that acts as the heart of this machine, which can crank out enough sonic sound to keep any party roaring all night.
17 Firefall Bus (Worst)
On the surface, this bus looks like it would absolutely be considered as one of the best pieces of work ever produced by West Coast Customs, but looks can be deceiving. This monstrosity was actually a massive failure for both West Coast Customs and The9, which is a Chinese company that developed Firefall, an MMOFPS game. The bus was intended to be used as a promotional tool and a server on wheels that could host Firefall competitions.
It was decked out with loads of hydraulics that would allow the bus to expand much like a Transformer. The interior looks like something out of Star Trek with several computer stations and sophisticated high-back chairs. However, there were several problems with the project. For starters, the company was losing vast amounts of money on this game, which was still in beta. In fact, this extravagant project led to one of the company’s CEOs being dismissed. As for West Coast Customs’ role in this debacle, the project went way over budget, they delivered the bus late, and the bus was missing many of the requested features. The Firefall bus is believed to be collecting dust in a warehouse.
16 Kid Rock’s Caddy (Best)
Is hard to argue about Kid Rock’s taste for cars, and his 1975 Cadillac Limousine is a great example. Before getting customized by the guys at West Coast Customs, Kid Rock’s ride was pretty much stock, featuring a 210-horsepower V8 engine. Rock met with West Coast Customs CEO Ryan Friedlinghaus and quickly felt confident that the WCC crew could give his whip an outstanding makeover, and they didn’t disappoint.
The end result was a minty-looking luxury machine that stayed true to the original concept and didn’t fall prey to garish modifications or useless add-ons. With a bit of bodywork, a deep-black paint job with bright gold trim, and the addition of new rims and rubber, the cosmetics were almost complete. The team went to work on the interior, where they reupholstered the seats in black velour with gold stitching and added some shag carpeting. After the crew had installed a new sound system, which features a pair of 8-inch subwoofers along with a 32-inch television, the veteran musician was ready to jump in his refurbished whip and hit the road in style.
15 Chevy Camaro (Worst)
Operation Mend is a great cause, which helps to provide surgical and medical treatment as well as psychological support for American veterans. West Coast Customs was able to make a contribution when they were given a 2011 Chevy Camaro by General Motors. The idea was to have the team appropriately customize it, and then, it would be sold at auction with the proceeds going to Operation Mend, while the winner of the auction would drive the Camaro and lead the 2011 Veteran’s Day Parade in New York. When West Coast Customs was finished, the Camaro had a 6.2-liter supercharged engine, custom embroidered seats, custom rims, new tires, and an ear-shattering sound system. Very cool!
The thing that wasn’t so cool was the eyesore exterior. Yes, the new camouflage color scheme was successful with its intended purpose of representing each division of the United States military, but it looked like every member of the military had simultaneously vomited on the convertible. However, no matter what you think of the camo cacophony, the ultimate purpose was to raise funds for a worthy cause, and it certainly succeeded there. The customized car sold for $333,000, and the auction ended up raising a total of $366,000 by the end of the night. Mission accomplished!
14 1955 Ford Pickup (Best)
A Barrett-Jackson auction that was held in Arizona back in 2011 saw a 1955 Ford F-100 sell for a staggering $132,000. What was so special about this old truck? Well, it belonged to Sylvester Stallone, and it was featured in the blockbuster movie “Expendables.” Oh, it had also been given a full customization by West Coast Customs, so you know that it was no ordinary truck. The West Coast Customs crew made several modifications, such as putting, under the hood, a new Ford 417 cid Edelbrock engine, which produces a whiplashing 429 horsepower.
They equipped it with AOD transmission and a Gibson exhaust system, as well as a Heidts Mustang II suspension kit and a 9-inch axle in the back. Other upgrades and additions included a Gennie Shifter Commander, new brakes, and a Vintage Air system. The team then decked the old Ford out with new tires, custom rims, a custom grille, and Cerillo racing seats. They also painted it a matte black, which makes all the new chrome shine even brighter. The end result was a 1955 Ford F-100 that many will say looks way better than it did when it rolled off the assembly line. It’s definitely one of the best jobs by West Coast Customs.
13 Unsafe G-Wagen (Worst)
By now, you should know that West Coast Customs does some great work, but they’ve also produced their share of failures, like the time they worked on YouTube star Trish Paytas’ Mercedes G-Wagen. It all started when Trish financed a new 2014 Mercedes-Benz G550, which is also referred to as a “G-Wagen.” She’d had it for a couple of weeks and had only put a few miles on the odometer when she decided to have the guys at West Coast Customs pimp it up a bit. She wanted them to paint it pink and put Swarovski crystals in the headrests, the steering wheel, and the floormats.
WCC told Paytas that the job would be done in three weeks. After a few delays, it looked like all was going to end well when she was finally called to pick up her car. She was pleased with the paint job, but then, she noticed that there were no Swarovski crystals in the headrests, the steering wheel, or the floor mats. Even worse was that most of the electronics in her prized G-Wagen no longer worked. Her car was essentially undrivable! After receiving a load of public backlash, West Coast Customs made right and remedied the problems rather than endure bad PR at the hands of a popular YouTube celebrity.
12 Tron Audi R8 (Best)
All of the cars that were featured on the television show Pimp My Ride were in dire need of a lot of work. The same can’t be said for this Audi R8, which drew a lot of attention at CES 2011 in Las Vegas. On its own, the R8 is a beautiful and well-engineered performance vehicle that’s capable of catching a lot of looks as it cruises down the street. Still, the team at West Coast Customs thought that they could make this two-seat mid-engined sportster even more appealing.
While messing with perfection seldom turns out for the best, it is safe to say that this is one of the rare cases in which it worked out well. The team decided to leave everything under the hood as is and focused on the exterior, along with a couple of minor alterations to the interior, such as glowing seats. They didn’t just add glowing chrome rims and vents but also went all out and gave almost everything a chrome glow. Heck, they even wrapped the windshield-wiper arms in chrome. The result was a Tron-themed masterpiece that goes down as one of the most inspired works by West Coast Customs.
11 AMC Pacer (Worst)
There were a lot of memorable cars that were produced in the 1970s, and the AMC Pacer was one of them. Unfortunately, the Pacer was memorable for all the wrong reasons. Sure, Consumer Reports gave the Pacer props for being better than similar compacts like the Chevy Vega and the Ford Pinto, but that’s not saying much. The crew at West Coast Customs knew that they were in for a challenge when Jessica brought her Pacer in for modification.
After evicting the rat that was actually living in the car, the team went to work by adding a whole lot of yellow shag carpeting to the interior, which prompted Xzibit to ask, “Who killed Big Bird?” The Pacer was then fitted with new rims and tires, as well as a cloth sunroof and a rear spoiler/solar panel, which could be used to generate power for the trunk-mounted juicer that was also installed. Yes, that’s right. A juicer. Well, even with a juicer, LCD monitors, a sunroof, a rocking sound system, and all the yellow shag carpeting in the word, this American not-so-classic couldn’t be saved. It’s been sitting idle for a few years and recently went up for auction.
10 The SlingShaq (Best)
Former basketball star Shaquille O’Neal wanted to get himself a Polaris Slingshot, which is essentially a cool-looking 3 wheeler. The problem was that these sportsters are quite compact, and Shaq is anything but. To fit his massive 7-foot 1-inch frame into one of these babies, he needed to have a few modifications done, and he knew that going to West Coast Customs would be a slam dunk. The WCC crew didn’t lob an airball. They widened the vehicle so that the big man could easily get in and comfortably cruise around in the open air. The team then proceeded to paint the ‘SlingShaq’ a super deep burgundy, which gave it an eye-popping look. They even added Superman logos to the seats and the hood as a nod to one of Shaq’s heroes.
If you’re familiar with the guys at West Coast Customs, then you know that it’s nearly impossible to get your whip out of the shop before they install a state-of-the-art sound system. They placed a booming sound system behind his seat, which probably gives Shaq quite a shaking when he cranks up his favorite tunes. Even though the modifications may have slightly altered the power dynamic, there’s still plenty of power in this awesome machine to easily get him to where he wants to go.
9 Mad Max Game Magnum Opus (Worst)
What do you get when you give the imaginative crew at West Coast Customs a Ford Maverick and a Ford Ranger to do something with? Well, in this case, you’d get a replica of the Magnum Opus, which is a featured car in a new Mad Max-themed video game. It might look pretty awesome at first glance, but it becomes more of a cheap-looking monstrosity as you begin to focus. Sure, the color is pretty cool, the blower looks fine, there are plenty of pipes and tubes to distract you, and the rifle that’s mounted on the back makes it look pretty dangerous. Still, something doesn’t sit right. It’s not the oversized tires or the sharp-looking rims, and it’s not even the pseudo-cow-catching front end.
Maybe it’s the fact that the West Coast Customs version of the Magnum Opus is actually a Ford Maverick on a Ford Ranger’s chassis. The only thing worse might’ve been if they had used a Chevy Vega and put it on an old S10’s chassis, but that’s debatable. The bottom line is that this particular project is an abomination and qualifies as one of the 10 worst cars from West Coast Customs.
8 1957 Chevy Panel Truck (Best)
It definitely doesn’t look like it now, but this 1957 Chevy panel truck was way past its prime when it arrived at West Coast Customs. Along with a host of cosmetic issues, it even had a bullet hole in the passenger-side window when it rolled into the shop. This classic is owned by a young woman named “Cristi,” and both she and the WCC crew knew that it had loads of potential. The team did some body work and then gave it this spectacular flame-themed paint job.
They then went ahead and added a good dose of chrome, including bumpers and running boards, as well as custom rims and new rubber. The crew then added one of the most unique features of any car previously pimped on the show. They actually painted a replica of The Creation of Adam, which is one of Michelangelo’s most famous works. There’s no denying that this is some of West Coast Customs’ finest masterpieces. As a side note, this was the last vehicle to be modified by West Coast Customs on the show Pimp My Ride, as the business was expanding, and WCC was too busy to commit to future episodes. What a great way to end their run!
7 Pink Mini Cooper (Worst)
If you’re looking for that perfect gift for your son’s graduation, then you probably aren’t thinking about getting him a blinged-out pink Mini Cooper. However, if you’re Ryan Friedlinghaus, founder and CEO of West Coast Customs, and you’re looking for something to delight and surprise your wife with, then this could do the trick. Ryan and the WCC gang must’ve sat around the shop watching a “My Little Pony” marathon while eating mushroom pizzas and painting each other’s toenails to come up with the inspiration for this project.
They managed to take one of the girliest cars on the face of the planet and make even more girly. A lot of people who’d want to achieve this might’ve stopped at the outrageous pink paint job, but these guys went far beyond that when they added about 80,000 crystals to the roof. It’s quite possible that the end product was too much for Ryan’s better half, as she seems to prefer putting it on display at car shows than driving it around. It was recently drawing a lot of stares during the SEMA show, which was held in Las Vegas last November. Gag!
6 Snoop’s Mobile Studio (Best)
Have you ever been stuck in traffic and suddenly thought up a catchy riff in your head? Of course, by the time you got home, the ditty was long forgotten. One guy that never has to worry about this happening is Snoop Dogg because, thanks to the team at West Coast Customs, he now has a recording studio in his van. Back in 2008, the rap star got in touch with West Coast Customs and asked them to pimp out his old Sprinter van, and the crew was up to the task.
They installed all sorts of high-end audio equipment, along with the Mackie Traction 3 Ultimate Bundle, the Mackie Control Universal Pro, and the Mackie Extender Pro. The crew also installed a set of 2-way 15-inch loudspeakers to serve as monitors. Now, he can get some serious work done as he’s rolling down the road. Naturally, Snoop is far from all work and no play, so the WCC team built him a chilling zone where he can kick back and watch a movie, play a few video games, or do whatever else Snoop Dogg does when he wants to relax. This is surely one of the best-ever pieces of work ever done by West Coast Customs.
5 Buick Century (Worst)
There’s an old adage that says that you can put lipstick on a pig but it’s still a pig, and this saying was definitely relevant when the guys at West Coast Customs got their hands on Jake’s 1986 Buick Century during season 4 of Pimp My Ride. The crew did a bit of cosmetic work on the exterior in order to give the old Buick a ’50s retro look. The proverbial lipstick was applied in the form of new paint, whitewall tires, and new hubcaps. The team then went to work on pimping out the interior. They tore out the back seat, installed an MTX Audio JackHammer with a 22-inch subwoofer weighing an incredible 369 pounds, and then installed a decibel meter on the dash.
In essence, Jake’s ride had been transformed into a rolling sound system with room for two. When it came time for Jake to see the finished product, he was less than overwhelmed. In fact, Big Dane gave Jake a bit of a pep talk and demanded that the young man act more excited for the cameras. Maybe the cameras should’ve been rolling a month later when Jake sold his pimped ride to MTX for $18,000?
4 1955 Chevy Bel Air (Best)
There are several classic automobiles out there that can turn heads without the aid of gimmicks and tacky add-ons, and Jekara’s 1955 Chevy Bel Air is one of them. Being over 60 years old, this automotive icon was in need of some serious attention, and the gang at West Coast Customs was more than willing to give it some. After smoothing out a few dings, the crew gave the old Chevy a sharp-looking pink-and-white paint job, along with some subtle pinstripes.
Then, they threw on a set of custom rims, BFGoodrich tires, and a chrome grille to complete the amazing exterior. They went to work on the interior by installing pink-and-white vinyl seats to match the exterior and then added Dakota digital gauges and a new center console with cup holders. The Bel Air’s spacious trunk had plenty of room for the crew to install 3 10-inch monitors and a motorized closet with “Big Bertha” stitched across the top. It was then time to get busy with those electronic gizmos that WCC is so well known for installing. They put in a pair of popup monitors, some cameras, and an XM satellite plug n’ play receiver. The end result was magnificent.
3 Chevy S10 (Worst)
The West Coast Customs team should be commended for thinking outside of the box when they tackled Sara’s sad-sack 1988 Chevy S10 during season 3 of Pimp My Ride, but they thought a little too far outside of the box and ended up with one of their worst products ever. It can’t be argued that her truck looks far better than it did upon arrival at the shop. 20-inch Giovanna rims, Pirelli tires, and a metallic-black paint job that features airbrushed skulls and other cool graphics will do marvels for any old rust bucket.
Adding a chrome skull, a crossbones grille, a 15-inch monitor that flips down from the headliner, a 10-inch monitor on each door, and a wildly loud sound system featuring four 12-inch woofers just makes everything better. But then, things seemed to go off the rails when they installed a pool table in the back. Sure, it sounds like a cool idea, but it’s rather impractical, considering that some shots will be impossible to take. Let’s not forget how difficult it would be to get the truck completely level. We should also hope that Sara doesn’t accidentally trigger the fog machine that spews a thick cloud from the grille when she’s cruising down a busy street.
2 1958 Chevy Vett.I.Am (Best)
Will.I.Am is best known for being the mastermind behind The Black Eyed Peas and for successfully collaborating with a host of other big names in the music industry. Besides music, Will.I.Am also likes to get imaginative when it comes to customizing automobiles. While the 43-year-old has seen his share of flops in that area, he did manage to come up with one pretty sweet creation with the help of West Coast Customs in 2011. He had a vision of fusing his classic Vette with a modern model, and West Coast Customs made it happen.
The WCC team made a great-looking handmade front-end and used the interior of a 2008 Corvette to refurbish the old Vette’s interior. They added Colorado Customs “white wall” rims and wrapped them in Continental tires, which definitely enhanced the iconic car’s classic appearance. After decking out the Vett.I.Am with an integrated touchscreen computer system and a sound system befitting of any music mogul, Will.I.Am’s vision came to life. He and West Coast Customs had managed to retain all of the charm of a 1958 Corvette while bringing it into the 21st century, which makes this project one of West Coast Customs’ best ever.
1 1991 Ford Escort
Kiearah’s 1991 Ford Escort is likely the biggest hunk of garbage that the WCC team ever had to work on. It was dented and amateurishly spray painted, and the interior looked like a bomb had gone off. A makeshift air-conditioning unit, which was actually a house fan mounted on what was left of the dashboard, got a hearty laugh out of Xzibit. So, the team decided to install a real air-conditioning system, Mercedes CLK tail lights, wood-grain door panels, and a new steering wheel.
Guess what? It was still an old Ford Escort. The crew also installed a pair of 7-inch monitors into the headrests and two 5-inch monitors in the sun visors, as well as added a funky sound system. Guess what? It was still an old Ford Escort. Maybe 18-inch chrome rims, a rain-sensor sunroof, and power windows would make it better? Not really. Well, how about removing the back seat and replacing it with 15-inch woofers and an amplifier? No. It’s still an old Ford Escort! Finally, they added BMW headlights, BMW bumpers, BMW side skirts, a BMW grille, and then topped it off with a glossy red coat of paint. The end result was still an old Ford Escort, and it ranks among the worst cars from West Coast Customs.
Sources: Pinterest; Wikipedia; Google
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