The Secret Life Of Cole Foster

Son of legendary drag racer, builder and tuner Pat Foster, Cole spent his youth always close to his father that he idolized, hanging around, observing and learning how to fabricate motorsports stuff, always keeping an open mind to everything, from race cars to hot rods to motorcycles. Owner of Salinas Boyz Customs, Cole Foster is in business since close to 20 years, building rolling pieces of art on 2, 3 and 4 wheels without paying too much attention to what has been done by others and published in magazines. Simply because what has been done has been done. He will tell you that maturing in the business, his inspiration for new creations can be found from “outside” sources, like nature, architecture, interior design, appliances, furnitures, colors, textures, etc.

Far from pretending that he is the best at all skills required to build from the ground up or to restore any cars and motorcycles (personal note: nobody is), Cole prides himself on the fact that he has a very good eye to know what is right or wrong. I completely agree with him when he states that “There are plenty of great metal workers and mechanics in the world  building ugly shit.” Having a good eye is what took him where he is today. For all other skills we all learn everyday, improve and when we love what we do we always find a solution to make it happen. So, every day in his shop of Salinas, CA, as a perfectionist, either working on a full car or sweet Panhead rebuild, Cole Foster torture not only metal but himself (“I have an idea in my mind and it’s killing me…”) until his creation is “way good”, an expression that his father used to mean “way bitchin”… 

Cole Foster loves to ride motorcycles and also the fact that instead of spending a couple of years and much more on a car, he can build them pretty fast, 6 months or less for a bad ass creation. His first iconic motorcycle build, simply known as “The Blue Bike”, was created after he convinced Custom Chrome to let him do a project to illustrate the company catalog and to be displayed as a showcase of their parts during the yearly vendors and bike show circuit tour. With a taste for vintage, deep roots in car racing and having a liking for showing each machine mechanical details, Cole’s vision went opposite to what was done at the time by other motorcycle builders, often quite big, heavy and long choppers. Instead, he went for a smaller, ligther and agile look, showing on purpose all intricate parts of the motorcycle. At its first appearance the “Blue Bike” got Cole patted on the back by all the custom motorcycle industry and he admits himself that “coming out of the box pretty hard”, he knew it would be pretty hard to top it.

Reason why Cole immediately decided not to duplicate this “Blue Bike”, but instead work very different bike styles based on different platforms (can’t reveal what’s coming next.) His most well known recent creation is the acclaimed Super 70’s Flashback Chopper he completed in 2010 for CCI 40th Anniversary Celebration. As down to earth and talented custom builder he is, Cole still needs and has since 2006, a trusted partner in his wife Susan, a former producer of automotive TV programming, who is now in charge of his business, merchandising and promotion. Wile traveling in California I met with Cole Foster and grilled him with my questions. Salinas Boyz Customs (photography: Mark Kawakami, Jerry Southworth, Michael Lichter, Archives)

Cyril. In High School, what your teachers said about you? Cole. Apply yourself!

Cyril. Who were your childhood heroes? Cole. Dad, Roger Decoster, Gene Romero, Kenny Roberts.

Cyril. What was your 1st vehicle? Cole. First vehicle with an engine (6 years old) Dad brought home a race go-kart Hodaka 90 Engine.

Cyril. If you were not working in the motorcycle industry, what would you do? Cole. I already do something else, Hot Rods. But i guess i could still wait tables.

Cyril. Best and worst qualities? Cole. Best: honest, God Eye, finishing what I start. Worst: time management, say the “F” word too much.

Cyril. What is your favorite way to relax? Cole. Kickin’ it in my hot tub.

Cyril. What is the last music you downloaded in your iPod? Cole. No ipod or cell phone. I am so low tech…

Cyril. Preferred city in America and in the world? Cole. USA, San Francisco or Los Angeles. World, Venice or Tokyo.

Cyril. What are you afraid of? Cole. Bees, failing.

Cyril. Which film made you cry? Cole. Dumbo, Bambi, Homeward bound.

Cyril. Right now, what do you drive and ride? Cole. Chevy Truck, 49/52 Panheads, 54 Chevy Custom. Also building a 72 BMW 3.0 cs for myself.

Cyril. Do you have any tattoos or piercing? Cole. Never did, I think I am the only one left.  Maybe I’ll get a tramp stamp?

Cyril. Name five things you hate. Cole. Hurting myself at work, Authority. Dead flashlights. Monday’s. Modern jazz. Egomaniacs.

Cyril. Preferred actor and actress? Cole. Rico Fodrey , Jeff Decker. 🙂  🙂

Cyril. Do you practice/watch any sport? Cole. Did a lot of catching and releasing.

Cyril. What is your best life achievement? Cole. Getting to do what I want to do most of the time.  Already have done more than I dreamed I would!  Getting Dads approval.

Cyril. What do you miss most at home when you are on the road? Cole. My Hot Wife!

Cyril. What was the last book you read? Cole. Catcher and the Rye.

Cyril. Where is your favorite vacation place? Cole. Hawaii, Mexico, Italy.

Cyril. Do you have any guilty pleasures? Cole. I have a lot. Way too guilty to go public…

Cyril. Do you collect anything? Cole. I’m not into collecting one thing, but when I die it will be an estate sale not a garage sale.

Cyril. What was your worst buy? Cole. California Real Estate

Cyril. What was the most embarrassing thing you have ever made? Cole. I’m not embarrassed of any project I’ve done that’s finished , but I’ve thrown a lot of parts in the can getting there.

Cyril. What is the best thing you can cook? Cole. I’m not bad on the BBQ

Cyril. When was the time you were really angry? Cole. I try to live my life so I don’t get to that point. Used to fight at the drop of a hat…

Cyril. What is your perfect weekend when you are at home? Cole. Chasing my wife Susie around the house. Working on my own stuff!

Cyril. What is your preferred rally? Cole. Chianti Hills Rally in Italy (what a party!) Gasoline Independence rally in Jeselo (Venice) Italy, Mooneyes Show in Yokohama, Japan

Cyril. What is the worst question a journalist asked you? Cole. Italian TV lady asked ” so last time I talked to you …….you were building a trailer?” WTF? Wrong guy!

Zipper's

32 Responses to “The Secret Life Of Cole Foster”


  1. 1 2Low Apr 6th, 2011 at 10:21 am

    Blue bike is as cool today as it way a few years back. Will never get old.

  2. 2 Manhattan Choppers Apr 6th, 2011 at 11:02 am

    Classic! Love him, Maybe I’ll get a tramp stamp? lol

  3. 3 Johny Apr 6th, 2011 at 11:04 am

    Like his work. His image is hot rod boyz.

  4. 4 Scot Apr 6th, 2011 at 11:04 am

    Nice Atlantis pinball machine there…

  5. 5 Harry Apr 6th, 2011 at 11:07 am

    Great pictures. Great interview. The blue bike is awesome.

  6. 6 Unkl Ian Apr 6th, 2011 at 11:49 am

    The man is brilliant.

  7. 7 P. Andrews Apr 6th, 2011 at 12:34 pm

    A couple of funny answers. Cole Foster built a very nice red chopper for CCI. Think it is for sale.

  8. 8 Kemper Apr 6th, 2011 at 12:36 pm

    Cole Foster is known inside the industry but very little outside because he didn’t build many bikes, more cars I think.

  9. 9 Jo mama Apr 6th, 2011 at 12:44 pm

    yeah his wife is HOT!!!!! she has a sexy voice also! Cole builds some sweet shit and is a super down to earth guy!

  10. 10 DUHL Apr 6th, 2011 at 1:40 pm

    good hair

  11. 11 Anonymous Apr 6th, 2011 at 1:57 pm

    Why is his wife dressed as a stripper?

  12. 12 Jason Ferguson Apr 6th, 2011 at 3:37 pm

    Anonymous… Cuz she’s HOT!!! Cole must have just returned from a trip.

  13. 13 chopmonster66 Apr 6th, 2011 at 4:07 pm

    cool bikes , very nice work ..

  14. 14 dannyb Apr 6th, 2011 at 4:10 pm

    Guys like this, who build there own, “timeless” shit are the guys that are gonna last in this buisness. His style hasnt changed that much since the blue bike, and every bike i’ve seen of his since has always looked great. One of the things he said in an interview really made sense to me. Something like “building bikes that look good means working within limits visually. Just becuase you can do something to a bike, doesnt mean you should.” Thats not a direct quote, but that was the gist of it i think. This, at a time when guys were building 70 thousand dollar stretched out bikes that are impossible to ride any distance and painted up like easter eggs with 300 rear tires. This guy makes sense, and i always enjoy reading or seeing him and his bikes.

  15. 15 DUHL Apr 6th, 2011 at 4:30 pm

    dannyb. i think you hit it.
    nuance screams louder to the sharper ear

  16. 16 Drake Apr 6th, 2011 at 4:46 pm

    Like his bikes. Didn’t know much about him. Thanks Cyril.

  17. 17 Brandon Fortez Apr 6th, 2011 at 4:49 pm

    Good genes. He knows his shit.

  18. 18 Bryan Zittlow Apr 6th, 2011 at 5:07 pm

    great profile Cole.Proud to be from the same neighborhood,.

  19. 19 Brent Bispo Apr 6th, 2011 at 7:16 pm

    Love the fact he still thinks of his pops and builds to that respect…thats a deep well of inspiration. been a huge admirer of his stuff for years.

  20. 20 John E Adams Apr 6th, 2011 at 8:50 pm

    Some really nice looking auto work over there as well – great stuff Cole and another nice piece Cyril!

    Cheers,

    John

  21. 21 1550tc Apr 6th, 2011 at 10:26 pm

    72 BMW 3.0 cs

    doesn’t suprize me with his taste in bike

    nice ride for trips down the pch1

    Cole nice nomad and your wife is smoking hot 🙂

    http://www.salinasboys.com/gallery/index.htm

  22. 22 chopperfreak29 Apr 6th, 2011 at 10:45 pm

    Awesome. I’ve been following Cole Fosters bikes and cars for quite a while now. He’s a very talented guy and deserves all the attention he get.

  23. 23 Wiz Apr 7th, 2011 at 3:26 am

    Nice Bikes! Wiz

  24. 24 fausto Apr 7th, 2011 at 6:02 am

    I remember seeing that blue bike for the first time. It stood out like a blue ray of hope in a sea filled with black rubber balloons.

  25. 25 Hondo Cat Apr 7th, 2011 at 7:40 am

    I bought an autographed copy of his book, “Cole Foster and Salinas Boyz Customs Style. Substance.” It’s a super read with great pics. I recommend it.

  26. 26 Steve 'brewdude' Garn Apr 7th, 2011 at 8:48 am

    ALWAYS has nice lines and a classic style that never goes out of style.

  27. 27 burnout Apr 7th, 2011 at 9:47 am

    I WISH I could see how Decker returns the favor! Good interview. peace

  28. 28 aft customs Apr 7th, 2011 at 11:15 am

    His work speaks for itself. He’s very humble – took the time to show an AFT Girl how he makes paterns. He’s also very funny. Susie is getting her pilots lisence. I asked him if he was building her a Salinas Boyz airplane & he said no – but maybe a Salinas Boyz parachute. That’s funny shit.

  29. 29 leon holmes Apr 7th, 2011 at 2:48 pm

    Suzie is from oklahoma,of course she is HOT!

    i am not sure rico acts.

    i do believe that jd is an actress tho : ^ )

  30. 30 Steve Hog Radio producer Apr 7th, 2011 at 3:38 pm

    Had Cole on a while back, great interview and yes he did wait tables and one of the guys who used to come in was Craig Vetter. Pat his father was one of the 60’s/70’s drag race guys and Cole has some great stories from that time.

    Great interview and nice pics keep up the great work Cyril.

    Keep up the great work Cole.

  31. 31 Roadside Marty Apr 7th, 2011 at 10:48 pm

    I love that line..there are plenty of great metal workers and mechanics building ugly shit..you gotta love that honesty!!! I have admired his stuff for years ever since I saw that sweet Triumph he built back in the mid nineties that was featured in Iron Horse..keep up the good work! RM

  32. 32 Doug Wozney Apr 11th, 2011 at 9:57 am

    I wonder if Cole has people pronouncing Salinas Boyz like “Salinas Boy ZEE” the way some pronounce my shop name Doug ZEE? Funny stuff.

    Great interview Cole, and extremely tasteful work! Love it.

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