Foreign Concepts VW: Travel in Style with a VW Roof Rack
May 24, 2017
I’ve had a soft spot for VWs ever since I learned how to drive stick on my brother’s ’69 Bug before my senior year of high school. He left for basic training at Naval Training Center, San Diego, that summer and I was the lucky beneficiary of his car. Before he left, we’d buy the latest issues of Hot VWs magazine and make plans for how we were going to customize the Bug. Admittedly, most of our plans centered on putting in new speakers, amps, and a kick-ass Alpine deck. Don’t judge… it was the early 90s and we were young! Anyway, he got stationed in Guam and sold the car for around $1k, ending our hopes of blasting the Chronic loud enough for all of our neighbors to appreciate Dre and Snoop as much as we did.
Needless to say, if the internet and Foreign Concepts VW had been around back then, our stock Bug would have looked so much cooler, even if our neighbors disagreed with our musical tastes. With over 21 million of the original style Beetles sold worldwide, the accessories market is huge today… and Foreign Concepts VW has some of the easiest and most affordable mods you can get to enhance the look of your VW Bug, Bus, or Karmann Ghia.
We recently met up with Albert Rodriguez, owner and operator of Foreign Concepts VW, to learn a little more about his custom roof racks, deck lids, and high quality accessories. If you’ve got a vintage VW, you’re definitely going to want to come see him in Pomona, where he sets up at every show on Road 37, Spaces 2 and 4, and Road 38, Spaces 1 and 3.
TELL US ABOUT YOURSELF
Pomona Swap Meet: When and how did you get started in this industry?
Albert Rodriguez: 15 years ago. I bought a roof rack for my son’s ’55 Oval VW Bug and I didn’t like the quality. My son said, “Dad, can you make them better?” So, I did. I started producing them in silver powder coat and then moved on to triple chrome, and game over! Ten years later and it has been our best seller – high quality chrome made of 16-gauge steel, with solid oak wood slats beveled all around and they come in three colors of wood stain – cherry, blonde, or ebony – with custom locks. Our products are made here in California, USA. We are VW folks. I have had over 13 VW Bugs in my lifetime and it just gets into your blood; there are so many great VW folks and followers.
PSM: What’s the best part of your job?
AR: Looking at the faces of the buyers of our products and going to the car shows and swaps like Pomona. You meet a lot of great people and it’s always different.
PSM: Have you always been interested in classic cars?
AR: Yes. I had a totally restored 1966 VW Bug that everyone loved. I would take it to the store or beach and folks would walk up to it just to look inside, talk to me about it, and tell me how they grew up with a VW in their family as well.
PSM: Do you currently own a classic car?
AR: Yes. We have a 1965 VW Bug that has been on blocks for over a year being restored. I’ve been buying parts and saving up for a new 1900 engine to make this baby my daily driver. I should have it completed by next summer; at least that’s the plan.
PSM: If you won the lottery tonight, what kind of classic car would you buy?
AR: I would still rebuild my ’65 VW Bug and then buy a 23 window, and maybe one of each VW model. Just because it’s too cool. They’re a great car to camp out in or drive to the beach.
PSM: How did you get into VWs? What made you first interested in them? How long have you been working on them?
AR: I had a VW out of high school and going in to college, and with my wife and first kid. When my son wanted his first car, we bought him a ’55 Oval Window and my love started all over again. It never goes away. Then I started producing roof racks and deck lids, and now high quality accessories.
PSM: Have you ever been to Germany?
AR: Yes. I lived in Switzerland for over two years so I traveled there to go skiing on weekends with friends. It’s a great place with lots of history.
PSM: How long have you been coming to Pomona?
AR: We have been coming to Pomona for over 10 years now. We love it here. Great place and we still meet people from all over the world. Now we can meet on Facebook and then when we meet in Pomona, face-to-face, we already know each other.
PSM: Any favorite memories of the Pomona Swap Meet that you would like to share with us?
AR: Introducing our new triple chrome roof racks. Wow! Folks went crazy and we sold out that day.
TELL US ABOUT YOUR COMPANY
PSM: How can customers contact you?
AR: Customers can call anytime at 714-357-8875 or visit our website at foreignconceptsvw.com. We are a manufacturer so we don’t have a store front. We also sell to key dealers and partners, or folks can buy directly from our website, email us at [email protected], or visit us at the Pomona Swap Meet on Road 37, Spaces 2 and 4, and Road 38, Spaces 1 and 3.
PSM: Tell us a little bit about your company and its history.
AR: We have been a corporation/company for over 12 years selling other auto car accessories like GPS, spinners (back in the day), and finally VW roof racks for VW Bugs. Then we started selling racks for VW Buses and Ghias, and now we’re moving into the VW Bug high custom parts.
PSM: What exactly do you sell?
AR: We are known for building one of the best VW chrome roof racks on the market today, with three colors of wood stain – cherry, blonde, and ebony – for VW Bugs, Buses, and Ghias. We also have deck lid racks for the Bug and Ghia. Now we also sell custom mud flaps, custom horn buttons, carpet mats, and leather hold-down straps for your roof racks.
PSM: On your website you offer two different types of racks – a roof rack and a deck lid – which is the most popular for the Bug?
AR: The triple chrome roof rack for the VW Bug is our best seller.
PSM: How much weight can a roof rack hold? How much can a deck lid hold?
AR: A roof rack can hold around 200 pounds. A deck lid can hold around 50-65 pounds, safely.
PSM: Where and how are your racks made? Can you tell us about that process?
AR: They are made in Riverside, Calif. We have a small manufacturing, fabrication and assembly shop. No store front. Each rack is produced with special tooling and fixtures. We use a 16-gauge steel that one employee will bend and form, while another will weld systems together. Then we send them out to an outside supplier for chrome plating or powder coating. Each rack is then hand-built to customer specifications in chrome, silver powder coat, or flat black, with a choice of wood slat finish.
PSM: Tell us a little about your locks. Do they come standard on all racks or are they an add-on?
AR: They are standard with all chrome roof racks.
PSM: Have you found that other companies use locks as well or is that something that makes your racks stand out among the competitors?
AR: We are the inventors of the locks; however, there are still others selling locks. We just make it part of a complete system for our racks. People like this option a lot on our racks. We now offer new custom locks with the iron cross, peace sign, and others, as just another option for our clients.
PSM: Besides roof racks and deck lids, what other products do you carry?
AR: We have been focusing on cool and hard to find VW accessories like our KDF stainless steel hubcaps. We offer two finishes: satin or high polish. We carry custom mud flaps that come in black or white with 15 logos to choose from. We also offer club logos on our mud flaps as an extra option. We offer leather straps for our roof racks in natural, brown, and black for that classic look. Our vintage coolers and ice hests are also very popular in the VW classic car world.
PSM: Tell us a little about your ice chests. Are there different sizes? How many colors do they come in? I love that they come with a built-in bottle opener – that must be a popular feature that customers love!
AR: Yes, we have been having lots of fun with these coolers and ice chests. We started adding vinyl VW logos and script writing to add a new look and feel. Folks are also welcome to customize their coolers and ice chests if they want. That seems to be very popular – they do it their way. The coolers come in 7 colors: red, black, white, off-white, orange, blue, and our new diamond cut pattern. Red is our best seller; folks like putting the Coca-Cola logo on it.
PSM: Do you offer all your products and services at the Pomona Swap Meet?
AR: Yes, this has always been our launching pad for new and old products that we carry. We’ve been coming here for over 10 years now and folks know our spot and look forward to us coming here each show.
PSM: What is your most popular item at the Swap Meet?
AR: Chrome roof racks with blonde, cherry, or ebony wood slats and locks.
PSM: Do you offer any swap meet deals or discounts?
AR: Yes, we offer a show discount always. Customers will pay more online or at our dealers. So, Pomona is the place to buy if you’re looking for a deal!
PSM: Any new products or offerings that we should know about? Any changes on the horizon?
AR: Yes, we have a new deck lid and other great VW accessories coming out at the end of the year. Secrets for now, though!
PSM: Anything else customers should know about your company or your products?
AR: Most of our products are produced and built in the USA. We offer a two-year warranty on all our racks, no questions asked. We take pride in our quality and the customer service side of the business and, most importantly, we listen to what our customers want and try to build it.
If you’ve got a vintage VW, you have got to check out Foreign Concepts VW. They’ve got lots of easy and affordable ways to make your Bug, Bus, or Ghia stand out. Come out to Pomona and meet Albert in person on Road 37, Spaces 2 and 4, and Road 38, Spaces 1 and 3 to get an even better deal on some cool accessories for your VW!