Today’s Artisan Highlight features Italian-American Roy Brizio, a second-generation car customizer who’s developed a dedicated following among hot rodders and built cars for some of the biggest celebrities in the world. This is closely related to the previous post on the Art of the Motorbike.
Born Andrew Roy Brizio Jr., Roy was exposed to hot rodding at an early age courtesy of his father, who was himself a renowned hot rod builder with his own shop. As a boy, Roy learned how to weld and fabricate parts, as well as assemble hot rods from the ground up. His skills grew with his father’s business, and over the years Roy developed an extensive network of contacts that he would eventually tap when he created a business of his own.
He worked through the 1970s recession, when low demand and high gas prices threatened the automotive modding industry. Despite severe challenges, he persevered and was able to maintain a career, as well as help the spirit of the hobby stay alive. Soon, he was able to go independent and set up his own shop, Roy Brizio Street Rods, and build cars that would make him famous among car enthusiasts and big-name celebrities alike.
Roy’s Got the Touch
It’s hard to pin down any one reason for Roy’s success, because Roy does nearly everything well. His skill at fabrication and metal crafting, honed from childhood, has given him the ability to craft precision chassis parts that are as functional as they are beautiful. His design philosophy emphasizes performance in addition to aesthetics, and every single one of his street rods is a blast to drive, and an increasing number of his clients are opting for manual transmission for a genuine rodding experience.
Roy is also a believer in customer service. He can make hot rods to order, and is willing to push the envelope with unusual requests. Some of his hot rods, for example, are built around European engines, such as the ’32 Ford Roadster with the 365 GTB Ferrari V-12 engine. That car went on to win the award for “America’s Most Beautiful Roadster” at the 1987 Grand National auto competition.
Hot Cars, Hot Career
Even from the beginning of Roy’s solo career, the younger Brizio has had a reputation for building quality cars that few other hot rod makers could match. Nearly every car he and his shop produces is well-regarded, any Roy wins awards and virtually every show he participates in. In 1995, Roy was inducted into the Darryl Starbird National Rod & Custom Car Hall of Fame.
Roy has sold cars to some of the biggest celebrities around, including Eric Clapton, Elton John, Jim Ellis, Neil Young, and Reggie Jackson. His cars easily break the $100,000 price level and still sell like hotcakes. Large corporations regularly purchase show cars from him in order to showcase their products in huge auto shows like SEMA (Specialty Equipment Manufacturer’s Association).
Roy is currently pushing 60 years old, but he shows no signs of slowing down. His shop still cranks out hot rod after hot rod, each one of them as much a work of art as their creator.