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Shop Tour: J-Rod & Custom


Born or made? For the biggest car enthusiasts it’s both. Jared Hancock is a case in point. “I grew up around hot rods,” says Jared, ‘my dad did upholstery on the side, and I went to car shows at a super young age as soon as I could walk the show. Seeing my dad working on cars, I really tuned into it. It’s been my passion forever.”

Like many before him, Jared started out on the bottom rung of the ladder. “I never really got into the upholstery side of things, I started out in bodywork. When I was 14 I worked a summer job at my dad’s friend’s body shop and learned the basics between sweeping the floor and taking out the trash.”

He also learned from trial and error working on his own cars. “The first car I did for myself in high school was a ’70 Datsun 510,” says Jared. “I had that car through high school with a VG30 V6 swap, five-speed, custom paint, roll bar… that car was sorted. It was a lot of fun. The starter went out and I was tired of that engine so I decide to back half it with an Art Morrison set-up and add an injected 302 Ford… never did finish it but got all the fab work done where it was a roller with engine and tranny, headers and exhaust in it. That car taught me a lot. Business got in the way so I sold it and used the money for the business… that’s how I got my car trailer and a new tow truck.”

“As soon as I got my license when I was 16 I went to work for a guy out in Burien. He gave me the freedom I needed and just trusted me, for whatever reason, to actually work on some high-end cars coming through his shop. I worked for him for four or five years.”

The guy was Rich Thayer, the shop was R&J Customs, one of the premier shops in western Washington.

“That experience was the biggest influence, the driving force that got me where I am today. Not so much from reading a book or a school, educational type of setting but hands on in the trenches. We did a lot of cars together and when I decided to venture out on my own Rich helped get things rolling. I was lucky enough to have a shop set-up at my Mom’s place. So when I was 20 or 21 I started working out of that little 24′ x 36′ shop. J-Rod was born. J-Rod was my nickname in high-school so when the shop was established in 2003 it seemed like a no-brainer.”

“The first noteworthy project I did was a ’69 Camaro for a guy from Alabama. Finished the car when I was 24 and met the guy for the first time when we debuted the car in Columbus, Ohio. It was a really eye-opening experience. That ’69 was a big-time car. It went to the SEMA Show in 2007 and we got a Mother’s Choice award with it.

I haven’t seen the Camaro since, it’s still in Alabama, but it was a catapult for the company. It gave us the recognition we needed to land better customers and bigger jobs.”

“When I was 26 I moved to the current location in Black Diamond… had more room to roam. The ’67 Nova (Griot’s Garage handbook 427 cover) has done, and continues to do, amazing things for the business. It gives us credibility and shows what we can do. The crew I have now is highly capable the only thing we don’t do is interiors… ironic right? Everyone in here has a creative mind of their own and we all get along great so that creates a great vibe in the shop.”

We asked what Jared would consider his specialty? Jared was quick to respond. “I enjoy the fabrication side of things. It stems from my body work roots. With all the experience I have amassed, I’ve added concepting or engineering to the skill set I have.”

When we caught up with Jared he was setting up shop in a larger building right next to his original shop in Black Diamond. “This new place is bigger and better than I could ever have imagined for myself and this business. Going from 2,200 square feet to 7,200 square feet does sound big but it’s even bigger than that. It’s a lot to think about but it’s what we needed. Absolute dream come true. Once it’s all set up it will be more than I ever thought I could have. Game changing. Everybody has their own spot, own lift and work area… it breeds creativity and that’s what we’re all about.”

When we asked Jared about the future we were met with a deep sigh… “This is it,” he quipped. “I don’t want to outgrow this building. I don’t think I want more than five guys. To me the future is just going to be stepping up the game on the projects we take on. We all love being truly creative and pushing the envelope on our work. Our desire is to think outside the box. Take the Nova… that car stretched us. We were able to take a bumper and make it fit the car unlike it ever did before, using techniques never tried before. I really like the direction the industry is going with the emphasis on Pro Touring. I’m still a sucker for street rods and I hope that side of the market comes back but making old timers handle like go carts is cool.”

We are big fans of Jared and company as the outfit has helped us with our last two SEMA display vehicles; our BMW Detail Wagen, an M3-inspired wagon that BMW should have built, and a tricked out ’63 Lincoln. Since bigger and better is out of the question… here’s to J Rod getting better in 2018 and beyond.



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