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Twenty five years at anything is a milestone in my book, especially in the custom automotive business. So much of what we do is so damn “trendy” and staying up with (much less ahead of) it is almost impossible. But our friends at Mooneyes have not only kept up, they are actually ahead of the curve, and just celebrated a major anniversary.

The show is also considered the world’s largest custom motorcycle event, held in conjunction with the car side. This year SO-CAL was asked to participate with our British Racing Green Track Roadster “SIROD II”, the car I built for my dad in 1976 and gave it to him at the L.A. Roadsters Show that same year.

Along with our entry were Gene Winfield and his stunning full custom ’52 Chevy, “Desert Sunset”, and the Galpin Ford restored Ed Roth “Orbitron”. Nice array of cool stuff.  Mooneyes never, I say, never disappoints!

I picked this stunning ’40 Ford Pickup Truck as my favorite hot rod and what I would choose to take to take home. The truck was built in Japan and is owned by Yuki Inaba.
Shige Suganuma, owner of Mooneyes, kneeling next to one of the most famous Bonneville race cars, the Robert “Jocko” Johnson-built Moonliner.
Rare photo of Mooneyes USA manager Chico Kodama, my wife Carol, and Sandy Kodama before the trek to see the Big Buddha. The photo’s rare because the workaholic Chico is kicking back and laughing!

The Yokohama Show has had an impact worldwide. While the rest of the world was falling all over themselves following the “fat rear tire trend” our guys were quietly keeping the faith. Mooneyes is based in Japan, but they and a few hardcore American bike builders like Cole Foster, Jeff Leighton, The Harpoon, “Rico” Fodrey, Jeff Decker, Bryan Thompson, and Max Schaaf have re-kindled the traditional custom motorcycle phenomenon. What’s more phenomenal is realizing the show has only been open to bikes for 11 years, and now it consumes half of the 215,000 available square footage—500 bikes and 500 cars. Also I might add that Mooneye’s “El Jefe” Shige Suganuma and crew have added numerous vendors and, as I mentioned earlier, custom car and bike builder celebrities to the list of growing show attractions.

The show featured bikes from all over the world and visitors as well. People were queued up at 6:00 am for one day, eight hours on the first Sunday in December. They even ran out of tickets. That’s what I call a success!

Brett Boeckmann (far right), part of the family that owns Galpin Ford with Dave Shuten (center) restorer of Ed Roth’s Orbitron, and metal man Bobby Walden.
That’s me and the Track Roadster I built for my dad in 1976. Shige of Mooneyes was kind enough to ship Carol and I along with the car to help celebrate the 25th anniversary.
A great shot of our good friend Rico (dead center) surrounded by a few of the Australian motorcycle contingency which was 160-plus strong this year.

Editor’s Note: A version of this article first appeared in the March 2017 print issue of the Drive Magazine.


Every Year Mooneyes Has an Open House

Since 1950, the famed Mooneyes logo has adorned more cars than any other in history and those two peeping eyes are still iconic.

The current and the original location for Mooneyes is Santa Fe Springs, CA and it’s there at this time every year Mooneyes has an open house. Owners of vintage rods, customs, race cars, and motorcycles come from all over to mix with other customers of this legendary auto parts and service supplier.

You have live music with the coolest cars and bikes rolling in all day, and Chico’s world famous hamburgers! What else do you really need? Imagination, creativity, ingenuity, attitude, and style were all there for everyone’s enjoyment. Hundreds of cars were bumper to bumper along both sides of Norwalk Blvd. The Mooneyes parking lot, the Café, and the shop across the street were packed with cars. Most of these vehicles are not seen at the usual car shows. Add to that some cool choppers to go with the entertainment and lots of ink and you have the perfect mix of artistic and automotive subcultures.

Mooneyes leaders Shige and Chico prepare for the event.
Mooneyes leaders Shige (L) and Chico prepare for the event. The crowd gathers by the burger joint.

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The Mooneyes dragster
The Mooneyes dragster was on-hand.
The original garage (now museum)
The original garage (now museum) has lots of interesting equipment to look at. Also see bottom photo.

From the original garage (now museum)

Dunn & Reath” AA/Fuel Dragster
The recently restored “Dunn & Reath” AA/Fuel Dragster (here and left).
(L-R) Allen Hall, Chico, Derek Bower & Pete Eastwood
(L-R) Allen Hall, Chico, Derek Bower & Pete Eastwood. Derek & Pete brought the “Dunn & Reath” dragster.

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Across the street, the “Gonners” have started to move in.


‘65 Buick Riveria
This awesome ‘65 Buick Riveria has original 401 Buick “Nailhead” power. Owned by Lesiie Carlson.

‘65 Buick Riveria

’31 Ford 5 window coupe
This ’31 Ford 5 window coupe runs a dual quad fed small block Chevy. Owner Jason Ashley of Fullerton, CA also owns “In the Skin” tattoos.
39 Chevy 4 door “bomb”
A remarkable ’39 Chevy 4 door “bomb” owned by Cabriel Aragon of Whittier.
“Therapist” is a ’66 Ford van with 300ci 6 cyl Ford power
“Therapist” is a ’66 Ford van with 300ci 6 cyl Ford power. The owner is Tim Sutton.
’36 Ford 4-door sedan
A very rare ’36 Ford 4-door sedan convertible owned by Richard Sanchez of Whittier, CA.
Cisco Farias (L) with Chico.
Cisco Farias (L) with Chico.

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Editor’s Note: A version of this article first appeared in the November 2016 print issue of the Drive Magazine.