Castellammare Resident Shaun Bryant Shares His Path to Restoring Ford Broncos
By SARAH SHMERLING | Editor-in-Chief
When Shaun Bryant was in his early 20s, he owned a Jeep CJ7, which he described as a “bit underpowered,” with a four-cylinder engine and big, 33-inch tires. He would go four-wheeling with some friends, a couple who drove Jeeps and one who had a Land Cruiser.
One of the places they would visit was the Highlands when the area was under construction. And though he said they didn’t do anything wrong, he added: “Let’s just say now that I know a little bit about construction, we probably shouldn’t have been up there doing any four-wheeling.”
On the weekends, they would go to Malibu, traversing fire roads that were open at the time.
But it was in 1991 that Bryant would no longer be a Jeep driver, when he purchased his first Ford Bronco.
“One day when I was in front of my mom’s house in Santa Monica, some friend of mine drove up in a ’68 Bronco,” Bryant shared. “I had never seen a Bronco before.”
He asked his friend if he could take it for a drive around the block and he was sold. He saw that the Bronco needed a bunch of work put into it, asked his friend how much he paid for it, sold his Jeep and purchased it for $4,000. He then started looking around for parts to make it drive better.
“It turned out, there were only a few people at the time in the business of selling parts [for Broncos],” Bryant explained. “There were maybe two or three sources, but everything was new, no one had anything used except for the junkyards, but there were no Broncos in the junkyards at the time.”
Inspired by his first foray into restoration, Bryant started buying Broncos and taking the parts he needed, putting his parts back into them, doing a quick paint job and trying to sell them to make some money.
“It turned from selling Broncos for maybe $6,000, $7,000 to within a year or so, I was selling them for $10,000 or $12,000,” Bryant said.
That was in the early 1990s. Flash-forward to 2020, when the Palisadian-Post spoke with Bryant, he was in the process of restoring Broncos for four people at the time, with clients paying between $160,000 to $175,000.
Before moving to Castellammare with his then-girlfriend, now wife Vicky Schiff, Bryant lived on 26th Street in Santa Monica for 30 years.
“When I first started doing Broncos, everybody knew me as the guy on 26th Street,” Bryant shared.
He said that people would tell him things like, “I used to drive by all the time on my way home to Brentwood or on my way home to the Palisades, I’d see those Broncos lined up on the street.”
After actively trying to sell the restored Broncos, people began to seek out Bryant and ask him to restore them, so he said he became the parts guy around Santa Monica.
“I called the business The Bronco Shop,” Bryant said. “I started that in ’92 officially and had that basically until ’97, and then I changed the name to Rocky Roads.”
At this time, Bryant was on Barry Avenue, just south of Olympic, for the first few years, sharing the space with a mechanic, Roberto, who invited him to move into the front of his job after being introduced by Andy Leonard, Bryant’s friend and owner of The Reel Inn. Leonard, Bryant explained, has a car collection of his own in Topanga.
It was there that Rocky Roads really began to take off—Bryant explained that he started working with clients like Jeremy Piven and J. J. Abrams, who purchased a Bronco for his wife.
“For about 10 or 15 years, I was the only guy doing Broncos mostly in the whole country,” Bryant said. “Most of the other people that were doing Broncos, they were all just parts outfits, no one was doing restoration and sales except for me.”
Around 2010, Bryant explained that a bunch of people got into Bronco restoration and his competition grew immensely.
“Now there are hundreds of people doing it,” Bryant said. “I was the one that started the whole trend. I’ve probably bought, sold and restored about 1,100 Broncos now. I think I’ve done more Bronco restorations and Bronco sales than anyone else in the country.”
2020 marks the highest-priced restoration year that Bryant has seen thus far, which he attributed, in part, to his competitors, who have been driving the prices up for many years.
“I’ve started to raise my prices, and now I’m getting the prices that I’m asking because my competitors have gone $50,000 to $100,000 higher than me,” he explained. “I went from being the most expensive restoration outfit in the industry for 15 or 20 years, to now I’m one of the most fair-priced restoration outfits in the country.”
He shared that it is exciting that people are now interested in Broncos after so many years of not really knowing about them.
Bryant now works out of Chatsworth. He is looking to partner with another automobile restoration company to relocate closer to the Palisades, ideally somewhere in Santa Monica or West LA.
When he is looking for Broncos to buy, Bryant explained that he sticks to states that won’t have rust issues, like California, Nevada, Arizona and sometimes New Mexico.
He has taken some time since the pandemic hit to grow his social media following, using a combination of still photos and videos to attract potential clients. Most often, he can deliver a restored Bronco in about three to four months, where most of his competitors have a year or two wait.
He also offers a discount for those who put a larger chunk of the deposit down, which allows him to secure parts and complete the build faster.
In addition to restoring Broncos, Bryant is also the creator of several aftermarket parts.
“We started making our own dashboards that have holes cut out for air conditioning vents and digital climate control systems,” Bryant explained. “We’re making a lot of stuff, we’re starting to make center seats that nobody else makes.”
When he is not on an annual surfing trip in Indonesia with a handful of his friends, Bryant can be seen in the Fourth of July parade in the Palisades—he drove Steve Kerr the year before he led the Golden State Warriors to the championship his first year as head coach.
“I guess I gave him some good luck,” Bryant said with a laugh.
On some weekends, his son, 11-year-old Jake, who is starting sixth grade at Calvary Christian School, joins him at the shop,
“He likes to organize hardware and clean up the shop,” Bryant said.
But, Bryant said, he thinks Jake is more likely to follow in his mom’s footsteps—she is in the real estate lending business, founding/managing partner, COO of a company called Mosaic Real Estate Investors.
“It’s been exciting,” Bryant said. “It’s kind of painful getting bombarded with competition after, for so many years, nobody cared about Broncos. It was just me putting out all of these nice Broncos, and people that didn’t really know about it, didn’t care about it.
“Now, people come to me and they’re like, ‘Hey, can you build me this Bronco?’ And I’m like ‘Yeah, I’ll build you whatever you want.’”
For more information or to contact Bryant, visit rockyroads.com.
This page is available to subscribers. Click here to sign in or get access.