Bodie Stroud, CEO of Bodie Stroud Industries, is a custom auto and hot rod builder that is known as a fabricator with massive vision, incredible talent and creativity to match the best.
He has appeared on TV with Bret Michaels in Rescue my RV, with Jesse James on Monster Garage and also with Jay Leno on Jay Leno’s Garage. He has his own radio show/podcast, “In the Garage with Bodie Stroud” and counts Tim Allen and Johnny Depp among his clients.
Torqued Magazine’s Neil Tandy caught up with Bodie and chatted to him while he was driving to collect yet another car to rebuild, this is how the chat went:
“Good afternoon, Bodie, thanks so much for taking time to chat to us. I know you are busy, so will try not to take up too much of your time”.
“Hi Neil, it’s a pleasure. I’m actually on my way to pick up another car, so we have quite a bit of time to chat about anything you want”.
“Great!! So, let’s go back to the beginning, the 1961 VW Microbus when you were in high school. That must have been such a lot of fun to refurbish, a lot of laughs I’m sure. Was that what really started you on the path to what you are today, or did that come earlier”?
“Yes, that was a load of fun, it had no wheels, no interior, pretty much a wreck and we rebuilt it in the backyard of a friend’s Dad’s house. We made it cool. We were really proud of what we did to it, but it was pretty much because we wanted something to get around in”
“So you made it into a kind of surfers bus”?
“Yes, exactly!! I was always interested in cars, so I don’t think that really sowed the seed, I knew I wanted cars to look good and I knew how a car should look, in my mind, but in those days, a car was for getting around and to look good in”.
“Whatever happened to that bus”?
“I owned it for a long time, but it got stolen and when I got it back after six years, I sold it. A friend of mine has a 23 window bus that I am busy with right now, that has taken the place of the old one”.
“You spent a year at Pasadena Art Center, did those classes help you with putting your ideas onto paper”?
“Not really, I was there for the art in general. I already pretty much knew how to get everything down on paper and a lot of what I wanted was in my head, I kind of just turned all that into sketches and then into the builds”.
“Do you still just sketch things or do you use computers these days, CAD programs and so on”?
“I don’t really use computers too much and at 45 I don’t really think I am going to sit down and learn how to use them, when sketching always works for me. I do send stuff out for rendering if needed and have a couple of illustrators I can call on, but yeah, pretty much everything is hand drawn. I get some of my best ideas when I am sat at the bar, no computers there”!!
“So Bodie Stroud designs go on the back of match books and paper napkins”!!
“Yes that’s pretty much so, it’s old school, but it works best”!!
“You’re a West Coast boy through and through and we all know how important music is out there. Does Rock and Roll influence your builds”?
“Mmm, I’ve never been asked that before; I listen to a lot of punk and some of the old school heavy rock and metal bands when I am working, it drives the younger guys in the shop insane, they don’t get it and always complain, but it gives me energy, I need that as I get older, I have to get it from somewhere and that kind of music really does help. Yeah, it probably does influence my designs, but not so you would know, I’m not sure, but it does help keep me going on a build”.
“So the influence may well be a lot more subliminal, kind of there as the music is playing while you work and create”?
“Kind of, I’d say, yes, that is probably right, music is very important part of my life and it probably would show in my work”.
“Monster Garage with Jesse James – Jesse is something else, isn’t he? I am sure you had fun working with him, how much of him rubbed off on you”?
“Really, nothing – he has been a big influence and gave me a lot of inspiration. I always wanted to own a hotrod shop and Jesse helped me see how to do it, but nothing really rubbed off, I always had my own way of doing things”.
“So Bodie Stroud is Bodie Stroud, nobody else in the mix”.
“Absolutely, I am me, I do my own thing, I have my own creativity”.
“Any heroes in the custom building/hotrod world, anybody that really inspires you”?
“It’s kind of weird, but no. You hear of people following builders, following their careers and trying to be like them, but I don’t do that. I may have thought, wow the guy that made the Batmobile was cool, but definitely no more than that, not a hero or real influence, for sure”.
“Bret Michaels, you enjoyed working with him on Rock My RV and you are still friends”?
“Yes, Bret was a lot of fun to work with, we still keep in touch when we can, Bret has his own things he’s into and I have mine, but we chat now and again, he’s a good guy”
“How much creative influence did you have on the show, was it a case of Bret giving up the ideas or mainly you”?
“Bret was relying on me and the other guy to bring the ideas and creativity, I had a lot of influence on what happened to each vehicle – it was a great platform, that show. Bret wasn’t afraid to get in there and get his hands dirty – he was the personality, he brought the builds in and provided the hype, I was the creative guy, it worked well”.
“How do you stop the whole T.V./Radio/Media spotlight thing from getting in the way of what is really important to you – building custom cars and hotrods”? “I never really enjoyed all of that, but it is a necessary evil to help with the business, it brings attention to BS Industries and helps with how I want it to go, so I do it. I never grew up wanting all of the TV stuff and attention. I have a wife and 3 kids, I keep reminding myself of what I set out to do when I was let go from my job after 15 or so years, why I opened a hotrod shop in the first place”.
“Would you do Rock My RV again”?
“Yes, I would have loved to do another season, especially for the pay!! It was a lot of fun though, the transformations were real, even if the owners had some unreasonable expectations, like huge big screen TVs jumping out of walls and so on”
“What do you think of the current crop of reality TV shows“?
“Honestly, I am not too impressed, they are too fake, too scripted, some of the builders are actors first and builders after – back with Jesse it was all real, it was unscripted, we just had projects dropped on us and got on with it, like the Rolls Royce, I knew about it 2 days before filming began and we just got in there and did the build, no rehearsal, no prompting”.
“The F100 line, is that where most of your energy is going right now”? “Not! I have so much else going on. At any given time we have 25 different builds in the shop and I am concentrating more on the parts line – I want to produce a turnkey package – a builder can buy the whole thing, or if he can’t afford to do it all in one go, he can, for instance get a chassis for say $5000,00, then add a brake kit, then the fuel kit, then an engine, add in a Magnaflow exhaust, all bolt on, simply log onto one website and get it all as and when. I think there are a lot of people doing builds now and that will help them a lot”.
“Any orders for the F100”? “Yes, we have 3 on order at the moment”.
“Where do you see Bodie Stroud and BSI in 10 years’ time”? “I want the parts line to be in place and doing really well, as I said, I also want to slow the builds down from 25 or so to 2 or 3 top quality builds, just really cool ones. I also have some more really great TV coming up, but I can’t talk too much about that at the moment. So yeah, that’s where I see us in 5, 10 years, the parts line and a few less builds”.
“Finally, any advice for the young builders who want to be successful”?
“Believe in yourself, work hard, stay in one place a long time, learning from those that know, listen to experience, stay focused, work hard and you will get noticed”
“Bodie, thanks so much for your time and the great chat, now you better go load that new car” !!
“Thanks, Neil, it has been a real pleasure chatting with you”.