West Coast Customs Is Still Pimpin’ Rides
Everyone remembers where they were in 2004 when rapper/actor Xzibit first burst onto our screens talking about how he’s going to pimp some dude’s derelict van into a chick magnet. Well maybe not everyone, but I know I remember – I was in my friend’s dorm room partaking in the celebrated college pastime of… doing homework. From there the show caught on instantly - before long the phrase Pimp My Ride reached a level of cultural ubiquity on par with “I can’t believe it's not butter”. It spawned an entire line of phrases and memes about pimping other things like Radio Flyer wagons and chandeliers.
But as cool as Xzibit was, the brains and muscle behind the operation was the CEO of West Coast Customs Ryan Friedlinghaus. He was not billed as a Producer on the show, but the show could not become what it did without his shop West Coast Customs (WCC).
Sure, the concept of the show was that Xzibit would find some poor soul in the LA area with a junker, and out of the kindness of his heart have his buddy Ryan and his army of artisans and car gurus customize it. But, unsurprisingly the truth was a little more practical. Ryan’s business was by MTV, or more precisely their parent company Viacom, to do all of the customizations.
The business was already successful when “Pimp My Ride” aired for the first time. The pilot episode even had a little featurette of Ryan awkwardly talking about how WCC had already worked on cars for various celebrities. But the show gave the niche SoCal business a national audience, and now Ryan is said to have a net worth $15 million.
WCC stopped being the main shop featured on “Pimp My Ride” after the fourth season. Though it did go on to be featured on another show called Inside Customs on various channels for years to come. However, that wasn’t enough for the owner. He wanted to continue to get the name of the shop out there as a force for good in the community.
Ryan and WCC have participated in various charity ventures since premiering on TV. The most recent example being a project where he helped a woman struggling with loss in her family and treated her to a surprise car makeover.
There have been many other instances of kindness from the WCC team. We found stuff going back to 2011, when they auctioned off a customized 2011 Chevy Camaro to benefit military veterans. There are likely instances before that, and there are certainly examples after.
The shop isn’t without controversy however. There are accusations by former employees of mistreatment and a general sense of being underappreciated. It’s a complex legacy, but if there’s one lesson to take it’s this: nothing helps you stay pimpin’ quite like charity.
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