Ian Roussel is cooler than you think. Ministry’s “Jesus Built My Hot Rod” appropriately blasts away in the background while Roussel crafts one-of-a-kind cars at his home in the Mojave Desert. “It fits since I’m kind of like a punk rock guy,” Roussel said.
Roussel, 50, who makes car lovers’ dreams come true on “Full Custom Garage” on MavTV Motorsports Network, is not like the average talking heads who populate television. The laidback craftsman, who creates mind-blowing cars, isn’t flashy or trying to be funny. Roussel, who will appear Friday and Saturday at the fifth annual Spokane Speed and Custom Show at the Spokane County Fair and Expo Center, comes across as a regular dude who has a gift for creating unique cars.
“I love what I do,” Roussel said. “The funny thing is that I’m not particularly into cars, but it’s my addiction making them and creating all of these shapes. My whole thing is about the sculpture of a car. But people are surprised that I don’t keep any of the cars I make. It’s enough for me to make them and send them on their way.”
Some of Roussel’s creations have been bought and sent to Japan, Germany and the Netherlands. “The cars just get boxed up in Long Beach and sent to wherever in the world,” Roussel said. “People from around the world see ‘Full Custom Garage’ and want particular types of cars.” Roussel will appear from 4-7 p.m. Friday and 11 a.m.-7 p.m. Saturday at the show.
Roussel, who tools around the desert in an unspectacular dune buggy, wasn’t looking for a TV show. “It just happened,” he said. “Someone asked me to make a DVD in 2003, and one thing led to another, and now ‘Full Custom Garage’ is in its eighth season. It’s pretty crazy since no one ever envisioned this. I’m surprised as anyone about the success of the show. We’re not entertainers. We’re car people making the coolest cars that we can possibly make.”
Roussel will be surrounded by an array of classic and contemporary cars at the Spokane Speed and Custom Show. “I’m excited about going to Spokane,” he said. “I’ve never been to Spokane. We’ll have some merchandise for sale. I’ll be signing autographs. The attendance will probably skyrocket since everybody has been stuck in their house for over a year.” The Spokane Speed and Custom Show is one of the biggest events since the pandemic altered life as we know it.
Vehicles, 340 of them, will be in the building, and a few hundred more will be on the grounds. Get ready to experience a number of exotic automobiles. “I’ve got some big-time cars that will be coming up from California,” Spokane Speed and Custom Show producer Brian Anderson said. “I have a ’56 Nova called a Super Nova. I have a Leg Show T that was on the cover of Rod and Custom in 1970. There will be plenty of big-deal nostalgia cars.”
There will also be a number of relatively new cars such as the 2019 Yenko Corvette. “That car is a super-limited production car that you have to see,” Anderson said. “Only about 150 of them were made.” Anderson, who was born and raised and still resides in Spokane Valley, is a renowned car judge. “This is my life and has been ever since I was a kid,” he said. “My parents were all about these type of cars, and so are my children.”
The West Valley High School alumnus, class of 1989, drove a ’67 GT Fairlane during the 1980s. “We used to cruise Riverside looking for someone to race,” Anderson said. “We would then go to Pullman Colfax Highway. Every kid had a spot like that, where there wasn’t much traffic, to race. After the race, we would go to Dick’s Hamburgers and brag about who was faster and make fun of who lost.”
“Spokane has quite a history with cool cars, and I’m trying to keep that going with my shows. It’s going to be a lot of fun this weekend since this is the biggest event in Spokane since the shutdown. You’ll have so many amazing cars to see.”
The Dead Milkmen classic “Bitchin’ Camaro” is cranked up while Roussel gets ready for his initial visit to Spokane. “Like I said, I’m a punk rock guy who just loves making cars,” he said. “I like meeting people, and I’m sure I’m going to meet a lot of people over the weekend.”
Local journalism is essential.
Give directly to The Spokesman-Review's Northwest Passages community forums series -- which helps to offset the costs of several reporter and editor positions at the newspaper -- by using the easy options below. Gifts processed in this system are not tax deductible, but are predominately used to help meet the local financial requirements needed to receive national matching-grant funds.
Subscribe to the Spokane7 email newsletter
Get the day’s top entertainment headlines delivered to your inbox every morning.