Q&A: Rodger Lee of Ironworks Speed and Kustom
Rodger Lee and the crew at Ironworks Speed and Kustom are leaders in high-end automotive fabrication. What began in a 900 square foot shop now encompasses a 10,000 sq. foot operating facility in Bakersfield, CA. Hard work, creativity, attention to detail and raw talent have set Ironworks head and shoulders above the rest and garnered the attention of automotive enthusiasts on the aftermarket biggest stage. Last year, Rodger’s team produced a twin turbo ’62 Bubbletop that was showcased in the Meguiar’s booth and a Whipple supercharged ’57 Chevy that we had the pleasure of featuring in our booth at the SEMA Show. One can only imagine how busy a shop capable of this kind of work can be, but were able to steal Rodger away from one of the many projects that he is focused on at the moment to ask him a few questions. Here’s what he had to say:
In general, what do you set out to accomplish with your builds?
I enjoy trying to improve what was there from the factory. Some cars don’t take much work at all to look killer like ‘67 C-10 trucks, ‘67-‘69 Camaros, 1932 Fords, 1940 Fords, 1955 Chevys, all the popular cars. I think any car can be made to look good. It just might require a ton of work to bring that ugly duckling around to get everyone’s attention like a standard popular car.
Is there a specific modification that you enjoy performing the most?
I’m a huge fan of performing a wedge section on a car. That is where you section the car in the shape of a wedge and take more out of the front than the rear. It makes the car look faster and sleeker. We did that on the Fairway ‘55 we completed a few years ago. I personally think we made the great looking ‘55 Chevy look even better with really only one modification to the exterior body.
What was the first hot rod you fell in love with?
I really like ‘67 C-10 trucks. I also have a soft spot for 1936 Ford 3-window coupes. I also like anything that is well executed and performs well for speed. Motorsports are always an interest for me.
How do you remain creative and innovative in a market where the talent pool is constantly rising?
Seems like there is a new shop popping up every day and that makes the level of competition higher and higher. You have to always be striving for more. You can never settle or say, “Oh that’s enough I suppose.” In this game, it’s never good enough. We finish a major car that wins awards and gets cover spots on magazines and I’m still working to make things better. It’s never good enough and can always be done better.
Where do you see this industry going in the next 10 years?
I see the bar continuing to get raised, people trying to do things better and better. But, I also see technology coming more and more into play. CNC machines are getting cheaper and cheaper, technology is getting easier to come by. Builders are going to get more creative at what they can do with these modern tools to achieve higher and higher results. Plus, the next generation is more and more used to the use of technology so it will come to them much easier as they have never had to make a transition from not having it.
What would you recommend to young builders or even students?
Don’t be scared. Get out there and try some stuff. You have to mess some things up to learn how to do something. You will never be a fast motocross guy if you don’t fall down and get back up a few times. In car building it’s just metal, it can all be fixed. I probably wouldn’t start with a NOS condition pebble beach car in your driveway to learn on. That was one thing I liked about a rat rod style car, as long as you were just trying to build something nice and not just cobble old junk together for shock value. Take pride in your work and constantly try to do things better.
Why do you choose Flowmaster, B & M and Hurst products for your builds?
Flowmaster mufflers help give the car the hot rod sound, which is a crucial element of any custom car. We use B&M shifters for their style and simplicity. They just work. We also use Hurst shifters in a lot of cars for that classic style and look you need in a classic car.
South Elgin to SEMA| 06/30/2017
Steve Schertz, the Automotive Technology Director at South Elgin High School in South Elgin, IL is dedicated to providing learning opportunities for his students with a focus on state of the art automotive technology. High School Auto Shop classes are not as commonplace as they once were, but thanks to Schertz, South Elgin High students have had many opportunities to grow their wrenching skills. Current and past programs that the students have taken part in include the Hot Rodders of Tomorrow Engine Challenge, Skills USA, Ford Triple-A Challenge and the OTC Carburetor Challenge. Steve’s crew recently caught our attention when we received info on the school’s latest project, a pro-touring 1937 Chevrolet truck.
B&M How-to Videos| 04/04/2017
Not sure where you tossed that instruction manual? Not to worry. This month we uploaded a few new videos that detail the operation of some our most popular gated and ratchet style shifters. One of these clips can be found below, but if you want to be the first to see what’s new, access additional tutorials or check out our latest product installs and overviews, be sure to subscribe to the B&M Racing YouTube channel.
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