J-Rod and Custom – One of the Best in the Northwest
For years—about 15 of them, actually—Jared Hancock had to move this, slide that over, and probably drag the other thing out of the way to get stuff done. Which is to say his shop, J-Rod and Custom, was always a little bit cramped.
That all changed this year by the acquisition of piece of property adjacent his house with a proper-sized shop built upon it. It’s always most interesting to witness transformation in the works, so we ran over to his Auburn, Washington shop to pop a few photos and ask a couple questions. The latter sort of unfolded as a history of Jared from a one-man band into an orchestra of five fabricators and painters.
“Right when I got my driver’s license I went to work for this guy, Rich Thayer. He gave me all the freedom and guidance that I needed—I learned a lot. I worked for him for four years before I went out on my own. Boy, that was probably 2002
“I started at my mom’s place,” he continues. “It was my dad’s old shop and I made it work. It was 24×36’ and I typically had three cars in there at any given time—it was quite the juggling act.” In 2009 Jared got the opportunity to buy a house with an adjacent shop. “I remember the day when I moved out of my mom’s place,” he says. “I had to snap a picture because I never wanted to forget what kind of clusterf**k that was!”
The new 2,200-square-foot J-Rod and Custom shop blew the opportunities wide open. A series of progressively more intense builds culminated in a ’67 Nova. With its purposefully modified body, Morrison chassis, and Mast Motorsports LS7, the car epitomized the up-and-coming crop of high-end Pro-Touring builds. It debuted at the ’14 SEMA Show, adorned the Goodguys Gazette cover the following year as part of the Puyallup event coverage, got a few Builder’s Choice awards…even a GM Design Award. And it was more than a pretty face; after qualifying for Goodguys’ Muscle Machine of the Year, it qualified as a finalist in the Duel in the Desert autocross.
Relative exuberance and youth—Jared and his five employees are all in their thirties—gives the shop a kind of versatility absent of most self-proclaimed rod shops. When detailing-supply manufacturer Richard Griot wanted to make a mobile detailing studio to showcase products, he gave Jared and his crew an E30 BMW wagon (a car special from birth) and a mandate: make something cool. Together with Griot’s shop-team leader Forrest Davis, what emerged was a two-door M3 wagon with five-series V8 power. It, too, debuted at SEMA to even greater fanfare.
That opened the door to even more diverse opportunities. Richard Griot awarded the shop with another commission, this the restoration of a Lamborghini Espada. Though a roller in paint, the project turned exceedingly ambitious upon the discovery of extensive rot and half-baked attempts to fix it. “On a bad car we replace the bottom foot,” Jared jokes. “On this one we replaced the bottom two feet! Just how these cars are assembled is very bizarre. Not what we’re used to in the US. The process is just completely different.”
And on the exact opposite of that coin, a ’63 Lincoln for Nick Griot. “He asked to do it in a way that’s not cookie-cutter Lincoln,” Jared notes. He describes the build as pro-touring light. “That’s kind of hard to do with a car that’s 40 feet long,” he admits. The car retains its stock chassis but features the Lincoln front suspension modified for handling, a triangulated rear suspension, static-height RideTech coilovers, big brakes, and Forgeline wheels. “It has a rowdy engine,” Jared says, his face lighting up. “We’re putting a 427 Ford Performance engine in it,” he continues. “I want it to sound really nasty and scare people just idling through the parking lot.”
In the spirit of increasingly bonkers builds is the shop’s latest, a second-gen Camaro for Chevrolet dealer Phil Mitchell. “We’re going deep into that one,” Jared says. With themes seemingly at odds with each other (luxury and racecar), the car is coming together in unprecedented ways. The foundation is a Morrison chassis with IRS and plans call for a big-inch, high-compression Mast Motorsports LS. “I’m trying to keep it under 3,000 pounds,” says Jared, who intends to compete with the car in ways beyond the fairground. “I want to do the Goodguys (autocross) circuit with it and so far (Phil) gave us the green light to run it in the Optima Batteries Ultimate Street Car Shootout.”
We’ve seen some of the most compromised places turn out the best work, some of it from Jared Hancock and his crew at J-Rod and Custom. But the shop’s progress definitely improves with each expansion, leading us to wonder just how much J-Rod and Custom is capable of now.