Man caves are magical places. Andy’s Rod Works may well be a business, but there’s no hiding the fact that it’s a venture born out of pure passion. Ando-san, aka Andy, is the man responsible for some of Japan’s best hot rods and customs, and he has worked on them all by himself, from the inside of his little world away from the world in the Chiba Prefecture.
When I showed up to his place in the backstreets of a busy industrial area, I didn’t really know what to expect, nor what I was going to find. But right from the moment that I pulled up outside, I was captivated by what I saw.
If I cupped my hands around my eyes to close away the mess that is your run of the mill, tightly built-up Japanese industrial estate, I could almost imagine I was looking in on a shop located in the middle of Arizona or somewhere similar.
Well almost, but I’m sure you get my point!
By trade, Andy is a skilled fabricator and painter – he turns junk into gold and finishes off his builds with real custom touches.
Andy doesn’t have a particular type or genre of car that he specialises in, but as long as it’s old, American and has style, he’ll work on it!
The workshop is contained in a single-level corrugated iron building that has weathered away just as much as some of the cars and parts sitting outside have.
Parked up in one of the spots was this Camaro waiting its turn to be wheeled into the shop and given a new breath of life.
On the opposite side of the parking lot was the Deuce we took a good look at a couple of weeks ago, which had just been treated to a quick wash in preparation for our shoot. I don’t know if it’s just me, but seeing a custom rod on Japanese temporary licence plates sitting next to a Kei van instantly made me grin. It was so strange, yet so right.Stepping Inside
It might seem small from the outside, but inside his shop Andy has created four separate work areas along with space for two additional cars in the center of the garage. Miscellaneous bits and pieces are stacked up on a recessed second floor storage area accessible by a couple of ladders on each side.
Just to give you an idea of the variety of cars that pass through the shop, this Chevy truck was in for a quick service. If anything, it added a little contrast to the older machinery sitting in there.
The slammed rod parked in the front of the entrance is one I have seen many times before at Mooneyes events. In fact, I even pointed my camera at it at the 2013 Street Car Nationals – click here if you want to see it in that original post.
This corner of the garage is usually taken up by the shop’s demo car – a 1941 Willys we checked out in detail a few days ago. I actually had to persuade Andy to let me photograph it as he had just replaced the rear tyres and had been sent the wrong sized rubber, so there was a lot of rubbing going on. Despite that, he still agreed to take the car out for the shoot. Thanks Andy-san!
Andy does most of his fabrication work on the opposite side of the shop in an area located under his little floating office.
This little room is where the operation is run from, where he meets his customers and does his research in. I can only imagine how hard it must be some times to source old parts and cars – often all the way from the US and other places around the world. That of course has become a whole lot quicker and more efficient now that the interwebs has come to the rescue.
Andy has a large inventory of spare parts, and sitting in the middle of the shop was this Chevy small block and its transmission patiently awaiting a new home.
Right behind it was a Ford drag car that Andy has been working on for some time now. It’s one of those long-term projects that’s ended up taking a back seat to the constant stream of customer builds, but it should be pretty cool when it’s finally done.Tools Of The Trade
All of the custom metalwork is handled on this side of the shop, and a few basic machines are kept busy here when Andy is in the midst of a ground-up restoration.
The whole ambience of this place just exudes creativity, and you can tell that a lot of time is spent here. Things get cut, modified or created from scratch out of sheet metal, before being added to the chassis or body of a car.
The shop walls double up as storage too. Parts like these disc brakes and dampers are hung up, eventually to be used in a build.
‘Powered by Ford’ head covers? I bet some of you guys out there will know what motor these belong to.
One of the things that has earned Andy many accolades in the world of Japanese customs is the fact that he’s a one-stop shop. He’ll not only tear down your car, restore metal, customize it, and make it look just right – he’ll then mix up a custom color and paint it!
Check out his arsenal of paint on an automated stirring rig.
Then it’s over to the scary gun!
Andy had a cool Willys pick-up project he’s currently working on sitting in the spray booth.
The metal work had just been completed, and he’d already laid down a few coats of primer. Check out that fitment! I wonder what this truck will look like when it’s finally finished…
It’s thanks to places like this and guys like Andy that the Japanese are able to pursue their wildest dreams, adding to the already amazing hot rod and custom scene that exists in Japan.
Dino Dalle Carbonare