Radical Function – Weaver Customs Crafts Rides that Twist Rules and Bend Minds
The sleek, radical automotive creations that roll out of Weaver Customs in Utah are a far cry from the workhorse trucks that surrounded builder Randy Weaver as he was growing up on a ranch in western Colorado. But it was that same rugged, rural upbringing that seemed to instill the drive and do-it-yourself ethos that has helped Weaver build a reputation as a bold, forward-thinking builder over the past two decades.
Weaver says he was first turned on to the custom car and truck scene as a teenager when a friend took him to a car show. “That’s where I kind of got hooked,” Weaver says. Before long, he was dragging old vehicles home and working on them after finishing daily tasks at his family’s ranch. “I would work on my cars at night,” Randy says, noting that his makeshift workspace was typically outside. “I’d work in the middle of winter – I didn’t care. I just wanted to build really cool cars.”
His first vehicle was a ’52 Chevy pickup, which he recently found, bought back, and will one day build again. His second was a ’39 Chevy, which he still owns. (“It’s waiting for its next revival,” says Randy’s wife and business partner, Sydney.) Both projects were learning curves for Randy, who is a self-taught craftsman. Working on them helped solidify Randy’s desire to pursue car building as a career. “I just knew I wanted to chop on cars and make them fast and cool,” Randy says.
Randy’s automotive drive and desire led him to open Weaver Customs in 1998 when he was just three years out of high school. Based in Delta, Colorado, it was a one-man operation that started the way many builders do: “I built hot rods and flipped them,” Randy says.
Building cars to sell helped Randy hone his skills and taking his finished rides to car shows and events helped him earn some recognition. Before long he was attracting customers and projects that would help the small shop grow.
It was during this time that Randy made a connection with Sydney through the common interest of show horses; she had actually known Randy’s parents from horse shows she had competed in since she was a young girl. Sydney was based in Utah and a remote romance soon blossomed. “We dated long distance for nine years,” she says.
Sydney has a background in business and marketing and helped with the shop’s accounting and promotion during the couple’s long courtship. Finally, in 2010, she “imported” Randy to Utah and the couple got married. The newlyweds opened up a new, larger Weaver Customs operation in the city of West Jordan in 2010. Sydney left her day job and joined the business full time.
The current shop occupies 8,000 sq. ft. and has three employees besides Randy and Sydney. It’s a tight crew, which is just the way the Weavers like it. “Everybody’s been with us for a very long time,” Sydney says.
After paying dues for more than a decade, Randy says he started to gain substantial attention after completing a radical two-seat ’70 Challenger roadster in 2011. The Hemi-powered custom garnered media coverage in a wide range of magazines, including multiple covers. It even was invited to Muscle Cars at the Mansion, a special event at the Playboy Mansion. “That’s probably the car that set it off,” Randy says. “It won just about everything it could win.”
A ’62 Ford unibody pickup named “Django,” which debuted at the 2015 Detroit Autorama, is a good example. A chopped top, leaned-back windshield, widened and lifted fenders, and custom grille and bed were just a few of the many mods that helped the truck win awards at Detroit like Best Radical Truck, Outstanding Full Radical Hand-Built Truck, Outstanding Engineered, and Outstanding Interior. “It cleaned house in Detroit that year,” Sydney says.
That truck was also noteworthy for its use of diesel power. A 5.9-liter 12-valve Cummins diesel with dual turbos and nitrous generated 1,000hp and 1,950 lb. ft. of torque – not to mention a lot of buzz in Detroit. “They couldn’t wrap their heads around the fact that a show vehicle had a diesel in it,” Sydney says. Not only was the power choice unorthodox, Sydney says, it was challenging. “It’s an engineering feat to get all of that working well.”
Since that time, many of the shop’s builds have been diesel powered, and not just the trucks. A radical custom ’70 Cuda was also given diesel motivation. While diesels are slowly gaining traction now in the broader world of vintage trucks and cars, it’s safe to say the Weavers were early adopters who helped lay the groundwork for others to follow.
Turning out show-quality rides with regularity also means attending shows – a lot of them. As the shop’s primary means of marketing, Randy and Sydney can literally be found at events from New York to California. The exposure helps them promote not only the cars, but also the products and materials from partners and sponsors in the aftermarket industry. Naturally, the distinctive Weaver Customs style also helps attract new customers.
When the shop takes on a new project, Randy collaborates with the customer on the vehicle’s direction. “They’ll have their ideas, and then I can kind of go from there,” he says.
“Randy’s really good at watching and listening to people,” Sydney says, “making sure their true personality gets wrapped into the car.”
Helping customers make decisions and steering them in the right direction is also part of the process. After all, if they are attracted to Randy’s style, they’re likely to trust the decisions he makes. “Some customers come in and they’ll give me free reign,” Randy says, to which Sydney quickly responds, “which always results in the best product.”
Ultimately, the couple says, the goal is a vehicle that’s contemporary but not trendy – something that will still look good years down the road. That’s especially true during this COVID year, as two vehicles that were supposed to debut at the SEMA Show – a ’66 GMC and a ’63 Corvette split-window – will likely have to wait until sometime in 2021 to make an appearance. By then they may be joined by a ’67 Mustang that’s also nearing completion.
No matter when the Weavers hit the road again, you can be sure of one thing: They’ll have some radical, out-of-the-box, functional and in-your-face creations to show off.
4058 West Nike Dr.
West Jordan, UT, 84088
Photos by John Jackson