Located in the heart of the Southern California motorcycle culture in the world-famous Whittier, California, Dagos Speed Shop is a small garage-built shop owned by Rene Astengo. Never heard of Whittier? Not only are girls much prettier, but it’s also one of the iconic cruise spots in all of SoCal. On any given weekend, the classiest of lowriders, hottest of hot rods, and coolest of motorcycles of all kinds can be caught making their way through the city streets.
At first glance, Dago’s 1965 Pan/Shovel might just seem like any other FLH from that era. But to the keen eye, it’s the attention to detail combined with a timeless stance that make his bikes stand the test of time.
“The motor and transmission were originally built for another bike I had built five years prior to this one,” Rene explains. If Whittier is the soul of the custom scene, then the Long Beach Motorcycle Swap is the heart. Once a month hundreds of vendors come tougher to unloaded hidden treasures.
“I was selling a 1965 basket case at the Long Beach Motorcycle Swap, Rene says. “This was around March of 2005. I told my buddies if I didn’t sell it, I was going to build it and ride it to the Paso Robles show that May. I had the bike running the day before we were supposed to leave, but I ended up breaking the motor in on the way up there. What great memories even though I had to miss that show.”
Although the bike show was a bust, that wasn’t the end of the road for this FLH. “When I got back I rode the bike for another month or two and tore it down for paint and chrome,” he says. “Almost five years later the motor and trans were still sitting on the shelf, and most of the parts were either used on customers’ bikes or traded and sold. Working on everybody else’s bikes always seemed to continually put mine on the backburner.
“Fast-forward five years later,” Rene continues. “Johnny Surprise, a.k.a. The Atwater Playboy, and I were hanging out selling goodies at the Long Beach Swap Meet once again when we shook hands and agreed we were going to build some motorcycles to enter in Grand National Roadster Show. This was in November, so we only had two months to pull it off! Needless to say there was many sleepless nights. On move-in day before the show opened to the public, we were supposed to be there at noon. At 5 p.m. I was still color sanding, buffing, and assembling the bike. I managed to get the motor fired up just before we loaded it to go.”
With a last-minute dash for the glory, the bikes were locked and loaded and headed to Pomona. “We got to the show around 8 p.m., not even sure if they were going to let us in.,” he says. “We were finally able to get the bikes set up and eventually took home second and third place at the show.”
With a few plastic glory pieces under their belts, that would have been a great conclusion to these long but last-minute bikes. But it seems that the story didn’t end there for this Pan/Shovel. “That same year, both of those bikes got us invited to a private car/bike show at the Playboy Mansion,” Rene says. “Never in a million years did I ever think I would be riding my bike up the driveway of the Playboy Mansion. What an amazing time and party!”
What seems to have taken a long road to get to a mad dash to the end paid off big for Rene’s bike. This FLH represents a reflection of what the Southern California custom lifestyle is all about. Custom trends may come and go, but “Relax. Oldies rule forever.”