Since February of ’87, the Japanese hot rod and lowrider community has never been the same, thanks to a new facility and custom shop thath was opened by Junichi Shimodaira. The shop, called Paradise Road, is nestled in Nagoya, Japan, and has become revered as the place to find rare and hard-to-find American cars as well as their parts. The shop’s soaring popularity not only caught local attention, but also the attention of Kustom Kulture icon Ed “Big Daddy” Roth, and back in 2001 even Mr. Roth took the time out of his schedule to pay a visit to the shop.

As with most shops, there will always be that one car that marks the pinnacle of their growth and achievement, and for Paradise Road it was in 2002 when Junichi took the shop’s popularity over the top by building a 1930 Ford Model A Tudor. That car ended up becoming a full show vehicle that he named Rod Riguez and it attracted worldwide attention and publicity by blending hot rod, custom, and lowrider styles in a unique way. It is also one of the cars credited for paving the way for the Japanese rod and custom scene in the early 2000s, and a car that legends are made of.

Junichi started the build of the Model A by Z’ing the frame in order to get the lowest stance possible; he also channeled the body over the frame. Custom canted quad headlights were made out of the front bumper ends off a 1959 Cadillac, while the seats were crafted from scratch and then mounted on the floor. A gold paintjob completed the build of Rod Riguez, and once the spirits cured it made its debut at the 2002 Yokohama Hot Rod Custom Show where it won Best Body Work, Best Street Rod, and the Street Rodder’s Pick Award.

After the show Junichi tore the car down for a redo and started by chopping the front pillars 4 inches, the middle pillars 2 inches, and leaving the rears stock. He sculpted one-off fenders out of metal and then molded them into the running boards. The second version had a tequila gold paintjob and debuted at the 2003 Yokohama Hot Rod Custom Show. By day’s end, Junichi won the 2003 Hot Rod Custom Show Best of Show award as well as the George Barris’ Pick Award, the Street Rodder’s Pick Award, and the Line Dr’s Pick Award.

Yet beyond the awards and recognition, what became even more important was the street and industry cred for his business as a top-notch builder. In 2005, Rod Riguez was shipped to the U.S. for its maiden appearance at the Grand National Roadster Show and Cruisin’ Nationals. Needless to say, the car never made it back and ended up being purchased after its tour of duty.

With his project done, it was time to get back into his groove so after a little brainstorming he began to build a 1927 Ford Model T roadster pickup. The truck build was another radical build that he was trying to complete for the upcoming Yokohama show and due to bad time constraints, he never completed the vehicle, but did end up entering the car anyways. Void of paint and an unfinished chassis, Junichi entered it into the show and history would repeat itself again. The car was sold and in keeping with his passion for constantly creating he was off to his vision board where he pictured a custom 1927 Ford Model T roadster. Needless to say, his project car was bought shortly after and since he wanted the car built beyond even his wildest dreams, he appropriately ended up calling that car, “Galaxian.”

Till today, that car remains parked inside Paradise Road, and for once it looks like he’s got a keeper that he’s not willing to part with. Soon enough LRM will be checking back with this historic builder to see the ultimate fate of the car, but regardless if he has a change of heart, we’re positive that there are many more exciting projects that will be debuted from this creative artist.