Roy Brizio Street Rods: Modern Hot Rods Defined. Click image to enlarge
By Russell Purcell
Recently, the hobby of building custom cars has regained its momentum and popularity, largely due to the proliferation of television programs, magazines and web sites dedicated to the wants and needs of the automotive enthusiast. For the gearhead looking to make the boldest statement on four wheels there is only one solution, the creation of an over-the-top street rod by a top builder.
Roy Brizio is recognized as one of the best hot rod builders in the world, and his designs and level of craftsmanship is unrivalled when it comes to building a truly special, one-of-a-kind automobile. Author Bo Bertilsson’s latest work – Roy Brizio Street Rods: Modern Hot Rods Defined – offers the reader a unique look at the legendary builder’s beginnings, concepts and ideas. What makes Roy Brizio special is the fact that he embraces the hot rod culture wholeheartedly, and unlike many of his rivals, he soldiered on through the hobby’s rough patches and continued his quest to develop the best cars in the business.
In the book’s forward Vic Edelbrock explains that “a street rod is the car of your dreams,” and that men like Roy Brizio “become the dream makers.” Brizio has completed eight “dream” projects for Vic and his family over the years, which says a lot about the quality of workmanship on Brizio cars, as Mr. Edelbrock has the resources to have just about anyone build him a car. The author contends that Roy Brizio’s San Francisco based shop “produces more great-looking driver hot rods than any shop in the business.”
Roy’s love for hot rods was passed down to him by his father Andy, whose love for automobiles lead him to open a shop (Andy’s Wheels & Tires) and develop a T-bucket kit known as Andy’s Instant T. Roy became immersed in his father’s business and quickly learned to weld and fabricate, as well as how to put a hot rod together. With these new skills Roy would begin a lifelong journey of shaping metal, fiberglass, and dreams into some of the most stunning custom cars the automotive community has ever seen.
As the business grew, so did his father’s client list, and young Roy was able to make lots of contacts that would pay off in the future. However, the 1970s brought a poor economy, tight emissions standards, and out-of-control gas prices; in effect, putting the brakes on the hot rod hobby. Eventually, Andy Brizio had to close his chassis shop due to the lack of demand, and his focus became catering to drag racers through his other business, the Champion Speed Shop.
Roy refused to listen to his father’s recommendations to close the hot rod business. Instead, Roy forged ahead by performing repairs on customer cars, as well as purchasing and revamping existing hot rods in an effort to keep the hobby alive. Through the potent mix of hard work and dogged ambition Roy soon had his own shop. A lucrative partnership lead to the production of replica 1932 Ford stamped steel frame rails, which eventually lead Roy to develop complete frames under the Deuce Factory name. He followed this up with a deal to sell Westcott fiberglass roadster bodies, enabling his new venture – Roy Brizio Street Rods – to build very high-quality complete cars for a growing clientele.
Quality leads to a reputation, and for Roy, this meant he attracted big corporations looking for show cars on which they could display their products at the big trade shows such as SEMA (Specialty Equipment Manufacturers’ Association). It also meant that a long line of affluent (and celebrity) customers looking for cars capable of winning awards and turning heads was forming outside the shop’s door.