Ryan Friedlinghaus


Ryan Friedlinghaus was born on April 22, 1975 in Los Angeles California.  He is a TV personality and American business man. He is the founder and CEO for the popular car customization company known as West Coast Customs. Ryan started the company in 1993 with a five-thousand dollar loan from his grandfather. Since that time, West Coast Customs has grown to be a multi-million dollar business and Ryan’s net worth is now estimated to be over fifteen million dollars. His knuckles are tattood with "self-made". Ryan’s rise to fame came from customizing the cars which appeared on the MTV series called "Pimp My Ride". The series then spawned other shows that appeared on The Learning Channel and also Discovery Channel's new "Street Customs".

Ryan started doing custom work when he was still a child, tricking out the bikes and the skateboards of his friends and other kids in the neighborhood. The first car customization work Ryan did was at the early age of fifteen and was on a Mazda pickup truck that he owned. Since opening his own shop at the age of eighteen, Ryan has customized many other cars including those owned by celebrities. Ryan has worked on cars owned by NBA star Shaquille O'Neal, who initially asked for a Chevrolet Suburban, but ultimately had 30 cars built for him by West Coast Choppers by July 2007), film legend Sylvester Stallone and everybody's favorite socialite, Paris Hilton. He also customized a Cadillac CTS-V for Justin Bieber. In addition to celebrities, West Coast Customs has also created vehicles for global brands such as Virgin, Nintendo and Microsoft. West Coast Customs is generally characterized as one of the best custom car shops in the United States, despite accusations of missing deadlines, aggressive sales tactics, and potentially unsafe customizations. 

Pimp My Ride

Ryan Friedlinghaus started the company in Orange County, California and afterwards he moved the business north to Los Angeles. The company had several different locations in its early years, but it is at its Inglewood location that West Coast Custom began to gain its reputation for quality customization work. West Coast Custom’s current flagship, and largest of all locations, is a sixty thousand square foot shop located in Burbank, California. During the business's years in Inglewood, Ryan and his team started to do customization work for celebrities which prompted MTV to approach him about their idea for a television show. The idea of the show was that MTV would find typical Americans with junk cars; Friedlinghaus and the West Coast Custom crew would interview the person, and based on their interests or hobbies the West Coast Custom staff would transform their junk car into a custom car that reflected the personality of its owner.

The success of Pimp My Ride was instantaneous and the show was reported to be consistently ranked in first place for the younger demographic (12 to 34 year old) for its 9:30PM time slot. MTV and West Coast Customs collaborated on four seasons of Pimp My Ride.  Friedlinghaus credits MTV with building his brand but also acknowledges that the focus on the show damaged his reputation with other customers, citing accusations of outlandish and unsafe customizations and also a rumor of illegal immigrant labor. Sean Mahaney, apast employee of West Coast Customs, stated "Most of the MTV people are not real car guys... They pay us to build the cars, so we do what they want even if it sucks."

Moving On

Nevertheless, Ryan would almost immediately begin a new television program that aired at the same time on both Discovery Channel and The Learning Channel which was called "Street Customs" and was produced by Pilgrim Films & Television. This show, in contrast to MTV's West Coast Customs, followed customization work that was ongoing in the shop. 


It has been reported that Freddinghaus said the difference between Pimp My Ride and Street Customs reflected his desire to "build cars on TV, not for TV." The show would change names twice and networks four times but the format remained consistent. Ultimately, however, more cars were being built for brands rather than individuals. In talking about the new show Ryan stated "It's more about what we really do. Now that we had this humongous fan base after "Pimp My Ride," I wanted to show people what really went on. When you’re doing a half-hour program, it's hard to really give a how-to and really show how things get done. The new show focuses on how a project gets done, and who it's for, and there are a lot of backstories-- we show how something's built." 

"Inside West Coast Customs" premiered in 2010 on Discovery, later moved to the Fox Sports Network from 2013-1016, and now resides on Velocity starting in 2017. On one episode of the show Ryan started to build the Ford Mustang Cobra together with Carroll Shelby. On the last show, Ryan with his team build the first car of the Cobra series and they invited Shelby to see the product. Shelby was pleasantly surprised when he saw the car for the first time and was even more pleased when it was given to him as a gift. In 2019, Six Flags Magic Mountain will introduce a new roller coaster named West Coast Racers, which will be the world's first dueling launch quadruple roller coast.

West Coast Customs has attempted to franchise its brand to other parts of the world with limited success as franchisees have failed in Germany and a possible franchise in Japan also failed to materialize. A bright spot should be noted, however, for the franchise owned by Mauricio Hernández who was a former employee, co-founded a Mexican franchise with Friedlinghaus' blessing in 2009.  A television show with a similar format to the American version called "Tuneame la nave" was first broadcast on 14 August 2009 by Axteca television and Hernández became the host of the show. The franchise was opened with a fee paid to Friedlinghaus to use the brand and the show continued for six seasons on Azteca.

The Man, Himself

Ryan has also become widely popular on social media, with more than 1.4 million fans on Twitter (@SelfMadeRyan) and over 440,000 followers on Instagram (@selfmaderyan). Ryan's wife's name is Meagan Elliot Friedlinghaus. They were reportedly married on 11/11/2011 at 11:11PM, although they celebrated the official wedding with family and friends one month later on Christmas. The ceremony was officiated by Santa, himself. Together they have three children, Ryan Jr., Dylan, and Briana. Meagan has appeared on his television shows, as has his son "Lil' Ryan", and the entire family is frequently featured on Instagram. Megan runs West Coast Crystals, a spin-off jewelry design company that customizes fine jewelry with Swarvoski crystals. Ryan Jr. is creative director and CEO of his own company, Pas De Faux Clothing (PDF), and Dylan has a popular Youtube channel, Dylan's World, and recently released a single "No Competition" featuring Jake Paul. West Coast Customs continues to operate in Burbank, California and can be found on the web at https://www.westcoastcustoms.com.

Last Modified: Mar 14, 2020

Related Biographies