East Bay Speed and Custom – A Singular Vision
Brandon Flaner, founder of East Bay Speed and Custom, didn’t have an average childhood. Instead, he had colorful upbringing steeped in hot rod history. Comic books, endless baseball and soccer games, and cartoons weren’t really on the menu. He was literally thumbing through the pictures in Hot Rod, Rod & Custom, the Goodguys Gazette, and the Rodder’s Journal as a toddler.
Flaner has spent his entire life in Walnut Creek, California. Kindergarten, Grade school, and high school. The only time he spent outside California was when he headed to Wyoming to attend Wyotech to absorb all they had to offer as far as hot rod and custom painting was concerned. After graduating, Flaner cut his teeth at a couple of fab shops in the area before landing his early apprenticeship at Darryl Hollenbeck’s Vintage Color Studio which was back on familiar east bay soil. It’s still that way. East Bay Speed and Custom is located on Arnold Industrial Way in Concord, literally a few hundred yards away from the former home of Andy’s Tees and five miles from where he grew up.
Flaner’s grandfather Bob was a major influence in his life as were Art and Mickey Himsl, Dick Falk, Bob Monroe, and both Dale and Darryl Hollenbeck.
Grandpa Bob was one of the founding members of the Early Ford V8 club as well as the Road knights of Walnut Creek in the early 50’s. Bob and had a long line of bitchin early Ford hot rods. When he was a child, Brandon rode along with Bob learning as much as he could. All of his spare time was dedicated to learning about how to modify an old Ford and reading through old magazines to ingest as much hot rod history as he could. It has served him very well as a signature builder. “I learned the subtle art of restyling hot rods and customs from all of my childhood hot rod heroes,” Flaner proudly exclaimed. “Things like tucking bumpers, the right rake, wheel and tire combos – all of it came from those guys.”
Things really accelerated when he landed at Vintage Color Studio where he learned the art of superior hot rod body and paint work. He worked a full decade at VCS. By the time he was 28 years old, he took the leap (with full support from Bob Flaner) to open his dream shop – East Bay Speed and Custom. Since opening in 2012 EBSC has had a singular vision – to build and restore traditional hot rods.
After nearly six years in business Flaner and his crew have stuck to that singular vision. Consider the machines that have rolled out of his east bay shop; The Cushenberry ‘41 Ford pickup, Mickey Himsl’s “Mickey’s Mouse ‘29 Ford P/U and the “Moonshiner” ’27 T roadster, a fordor ‘40 Ford for Mike McAuliffe, ‘The Compton Coupe’ ‘35 Ford Coupe for Paul Bradley and most recently the body and paintwork on the famed Eddie Dye Roadster.
The latest model vehicle Flaner has ever taken on is a bitchin’ ’57 Ford pickup which is currently under construction for Scott Needham. A ’36 Ford coupe is getting the full treatment (including sectioned ’40 Olds bumpers) for owner Bryan Rusk. We also spotted a ’34 coupe the day we visited.
Matching Flaner’s vision is his core philosophy which is to “Do good work and be fair with people. We take pride in traditional values and builds,” he said. His team is as dedicated as he is. Mike Wenger, Shane Hegarty, Will Crockett, and Ryan “Mustard Stain” Heath help Brandon turn out bitchin’ hot rods. They do everything but upholstery here at East Bay Speed and Custom. The shop space is adequate but as is usually the case, with popular builds come more builds requiring more space, more tools and more guys. In the next few years EBSC will relocate to a bigger shop.
Sadly, Brandon’s grandfather Bob passed away a week before Brandon went south to help finish off the Dye car. Flaner’s dedication to that effort was fueled by the passion Bob had instilled in him as a kid. It was a therapeutic exercise in doing whatever it took to carry on his family’s hot rodding legacy.