Some of Ric Sugihara’s earliest memories are ones sitting in old “cool” cars. He’s a third-generation car guy.
“My grandpa got into cars. My dad was a big hot-rodder. My dad’s five brothers were all into cars,” Sugihara said.
Cars have always been a family passion. Someone was always working on a car. He and his brothers were there in the thick of it.
“That kind of started us,” he said.
“People ask, ‘How’d you get into the car business?’ Well, my dad and his brothers would always fix up cars and people would always want to buy their cars. So my grandpa said, let’s open a car lot.”
Sugihara’s grandpa ran a small hobby car lot in Utah for many years. In 1986, his grandpa offered his lot to his dad. The rest is history.
“You and your boys can have it,” Sugihara remembers his grandpa saying.
“So my dad and my two brothers, we took it over,” Sugihara said. “So from there, there was three of us. My dad had a little car lot.”
“From there it was the three of us.”
~ Ric Sugihara
“From there, I went and worked at a Chevrolet dealer as a manager and had my own lot,” he said. “I worked at some of the places here [Rock Springs] and I opened this up [Rocky’s Auto Sales] in September.”
Sugihara has been in the car business for 35 years, but he’s been working on cars his whole life, he said. That’s 40-plus years. He’s worked big lots and small, but says he’s always preferred the small ones.
“I’m the hands-on type,” he said. “It’s a little bit funner, a little bit more personable. Don’t put your name up on the sign if a customer can’t come in and talk to you.”
He’s a car guy, third generation, Sugihara says. First his grandpa owned a car lot, then his dad, then he and his brother, Randy, followed in their footsteps.
“My brother’s 15 years ahead of me in business and he’s done really well,” he said.
“Most guys who own dealerships are businessmen. I’m a car guy, I like vehicles. I love the cars. I love the engineering. I love the art.”
Hot Rods and Classics
“Am I a motor head? Yes. And I love the art part of cars,” Sugihara said.
Aside from buying and selling cars, Ric loves to work on cars. He loves fixing up classic cars to look and feel brand new again. On occasion, he’ll transform one into a drag racing car. He frequents the Wyoming, Utah, Idaho and Montana circuit.
His favorite part of fixing a car is finishing it, he said.
“You start with a junker and it turns into a gem.”
– Ric Sugihara
“You start with a junker and it turns into a gem. That’s what’s fun,” he said. “The hands-on aspect, and to be able to say that you did this. You made this, created this.”
Saving a car is like saving a person, he said.
“You find a car in the field. No one’s going to fix it. It’s long been not-taken-care-of, and you bring it back to life. You resurrect it, fix it up. Now it runs and drives,” Sugihara said.
“It’s almost like the car loves you and appreciates you for it. It makes you feel good, you did it.”
“It’s my hobby. It’s art to me. If you look at them, the design, what you can do with them, the way it’s engineered; it’s art,” he said. “Having a passion for cars helps a lot because people know you care.”
Paying It Back
“My dad’s the one who taught us the business. He had a small lot like this,” Sugihara said. “He could’ve hired smarter guys than training young kids, but he gave it up for us to show us and train us.”
Sugihara’s grandpa has since passed away. His dad, Phil, is going strong at 70 years young. He maintains his small car lot in Ogden, Utah.
“He’s still fixing up cars,” he said. “He could run circles around you.”
Sugihara says he wouldn’t have anything without his dad. His dad gave everything up so he could have what he has today. Sugihara plans to pay him back.
“He’s never had a brand new car; he never could afford it,” he said. “For his 75th birthday, I want to buy him a brand new car.”
“I know where I came from. I know who taught me. I know who I owe and I pay back.”
~ Ric Sugihara
A Message To Dad
“To my dad: I would tell him how much I appreciate him giving up his future for our future. His willingness to give his knowledge.
I am where I am today because of his teaching. People forget that; I haven’t forgotten that. I won’t forget that.”