04.07 Suped Up and Tricked Out
The Baddest Rides in Town
By Sam Blier, Emily Kopec, Allie Bombz, and Steph Moore
Model: Samantha Ortiz; Tattoos by Danny Arpin Jr. of Out of the Dark World; Photo by Sam Blier
Cars and motorcycles as just a way to get from point A to point B? Oh, we think not…not by a long shot. Not these machines. Calling them mere transportation wouldn’t do justice to their magnificence, their power, their technology, and the months of blood, sweat and tears ~ not to mention cold, hard cash ~ invested in them by their owners (and sometimes saviors) and mechanics. These vehicles aren’t just possessions, they’re obsessions, and the folks behind the wheel aren’t just car and bike enthusiasts, they’re car and bike lovers…fanatics…worshippers…true to-the-bone gearheads. If you understand…no, if you live for… the roar of 500 HP, the feeling of rollin’ on 22s, the smell of burning rubber, and the thrill of watching your Corolla-driving friends turn green with envy when you pull up to the curb, then you, my friend, are going to love the beauties we’ve got in store for you. And if you haven’t yet learned to appreciate the shine of chrome and the glorious rumble of a Chevy 350, then hold on to your seat, we’re going to show you exactly what you’ve been missing. Step aside, Xhibit, Worcester County is gettin’ pimped!
East Coast Kustmrydz
By Sam Blier
Ah, the age old question. Now that you’ve spent your disposable income on a Lamborghini instead of a small home, where do you bring it to make sure that your Lambo is different from all of your jet-setting friends’ Lambos? Or, on the other end of the spectrum, where do you bring your hand-me-down 1989 Honda CRX to help it stand out in a crowd? The answer to both questions is East Coast Kustmrydz. No job is too big, as a certain Cadillac Escalade owner who requested and got, among many other things, a motorized, flip-down 32 inch plasma screen TV and LCD monitors molded into the tailgate of his truck [facing traffic], can attest. Justin Jaillet and the crew over at ECKR stay humble despite their success and immense growth. They’ve grown so much, in fact, that their current facilities on Shrewsbury Street in Worcester simply aren’t big enough. To meet the growing demand, Justin recently invested in an entirely brand new shop off Grafton Street, scheduled to open some time next month. The new shop will be a state-of-the-art facility. It will be Justin’s dream shop and everything he’s been working for the past five years.
But back to the rides. Several of the most notable recent projects that have been fueling ECKR’s growth are pretty big ticket items. Getting their hands on a brand-new-for-2007 Cadillac Escalade (it still had the dealer tags on it) and literally stripping it to bare metal was a challenge, but some blood, sweat and tears and over $40,000 later, and the Escalade is absolutely guaranteed to be one of a kind. The already luxurious truck has been treated to a fully custom tan leather interior with blue suede inserts. There are TV monitors mounted in every conceivable ~ and many unconceivable ~ locations. Want to get in on the fun? You don’t even have to get inside the truck, as many of the monitors face the outside world.
Another favorite job was the lime-green Lamborghini Gallardo, a breathtakingly fast and, at over $175,000, expensive, car straight from the factory. The Gallardo comes with a five liter V10 engine pumping out 500 horsepower. Or at least it did before ECKR massaged it with a full exhaust system, bumping output up a few points. Future plans include a new set of wheels, and a custom stereo system ~ even though the new exhaust note is music enough to most gear heads’ ears.
One of Justin’s personal rides, a 1970 Chevy Nova SS, packs plenty of old school power ~ with just enough new school style. The power comes courtesy of a prepped and blown V8, and the style is provided by a flawless blue paintjob and 20 inch billet rims. The car is set up for drag racing with racing seats and a full roll cage.
The 1955 Chevy Bel Air is another customer car, and one of the more eye-catching ones. Again, it mixes the best of the old and new school to achieve its one of a kind look. The engine bay is completely finished and absolutely flawless, and the polished aluminum radiator keeps the potent power plant from overheating. The custom flame emblazoned intake manifold boosts power and looks killer. The retro tweed interior is balanced by two sets of modern, digital gauges. Out back in the trunk, there’s a color-matched bottle of NOS and a modern stereo system complete with a 15 inch flat screen monitor. The screaming tangerine paint job definitely wasn’t a factory option back in 1955, but over $60,000 isn’t going to buy you a boring car at ECKR.
Then there’s the silver BMW M3, lowered around a set of Maya wheels. Future plans are centered around putting more power to the gleaming wheels with a supercharger and other engine mods. As if 333 screaming Bavarian horsepower weren’t enough!
One of the shop cars is a silver Mercedes Benz CLK55 AMG. The car’s hand-built, high output V8 breathes better thanks to a full, performance exhaust system. Still more power comes from a re-programmed engine computer, and the custom stereo system gets the party started from blocks away. And you know this beast isn’t rolling around on stock rims! Chrome, anyone?
Speaking of chrome, Justin’s car obsession began at a young age, influenced by his father who worked on cars and drove a big rig for a living. His truck had many custom touches and didn’t look like your average cross-country hauler. The bug bit Justin hard and as soon as he could drive, he was modifying his own rides. His father taught him a lot, as did a group of older car guys he used to hang out with back in the day. Pretty soon, Justin was terrorizing the streets of his native Leicester in his custom Chevrolet Monte Carlo. Some years later, Justin took the plunge and opened up East Coast Kustmrydz and, despite some bumps in the road along the way, he’s never looked back. He gives all credit to his crew and his family, which today is pretty much one and the same to him. Without his dedicated crew, ECKR never could have announced their arrival on the scene by taking over 60% of the trophies home at their first car show ever. One thing that has always set ECKR apart is its West Coast influence. Justin regularly travels to California, the Mecca of custom cardom, to observe emerging trends and bring them back home before anyone else has seen them. ECKR’s unique perspective is evident in the many first place trophies from such notable car shows as Hot Import Nights and Import Evolution. With the new shop opening, and major projects completed and chomping at the bit for the upcoming show season, look for more big things to come from East Coast Kustmrydz.
Need more ECKR? We don’t blame you! Check out www.myspace.com/eckr.
Sheldon’s Harley Davidson/Buell
By Sam Blier
Model: Candi; Body paint by: Bill Lebeau of Airbrush Works; Photo by Samantha Ortiz
If doing something for a lifetime makes you an expert, what does doing it for three lifetimes make you? One place to find out is Sheldon’s Harley Davidson in Auburn, founded in 1920 by the first of three successive generations of the Sheldon family to run the dealership. Sales and service are the bread and butter of any dealership, and Sheldon’s is no different. But ask any employee in the building what their favorite part of the job is, and the unanimous answer will be “the custom stuff.” Luckily for them, New England residents have shared the same passion for custom Harleys for decades, and have always known where to satisfy their lust for limited and special edition Harley accessories.
With so many years in the business, the guys at Sheldon’s have had time to sort the good parts from the bad. As a result, they deal almost exclusively in genuine Harley Davidson parts and accessories, but have found a select few aftermarket companies whose parts are of comparable quality, so they use them as well.
Jesse Sargent, Sheldon’s service manager, is proudest of his team’s most recent project. A bike that humbly started life as a 2007 Harley Davidson FLHX Street Glide is now a custom piece of chrome-plated Milwaukee iron covered in flaming skulls ~ just the way Harley guys (and gals, as you can see from the photo below!) like it.
What makes this bike so special?
Chrome brake calipers w/ Skull Collection inserts
Chrome Handlebar Controls and custom HD Skull grips
Braided throttle and clutch cables
Braided front brake line
103” Big Bore Kit
Screamin’ Eagle Air Cleaner Kit
Dual Screamin’ Eagle Mufflers
Chrome front end kit
Polished brake rotors
Chrome Profile Laced Wheels
Harley Davidson Custom Sun Bolt, Gold Candy Tear w/ Shadow Skulls Paint Set (limited edition of 100 factory authorized sets)
Sidekick Custom Sun Bolt Touring Seat
The most visually stunning part of the bike, what really sets it apart, is the custom paint job lovingly administered by Bill LeBeau of Airbrush Works. The custom paint covers every inch of the bike. The menacing skulls are applied in gleaming gold paint, appearing as if someone had torn the bike’s black skin away to reveal the deathly scene underneath.
To provide enough go to match all that show is the larger 1.7 liter engine, enhanced with custom cams, and now breathing freely through that oversized Screamin’ Eagle exhaust system and air cleaner kit. Stopping is on a dime thanks to the braided brake lines, eliminating any mush in the system. All these modifications have nearly doubled the already dramatic base price, but have yielded a magnificent bike guaranteed not to look like anything else on the block. I mean, after over eight decades in the business, could Sheldon’s turn out anything less?
Pulse Reader Chris Goulet and his 1967 Camaro
By Steph Moore
OK. Let’s go back in time a little, back past the 3rd generation Camaros of the 80s (sorry, mullet-heads), past the second generation Cams of the 70s…way back to 1967 when this particular Chevy/GM breed debuted and strutted its sleek, graceful lines in both 2 door coupe and 2 door convertible models. This elegant-but-powerful muscle car of yore is the stuff of restoration dreams, as 22 year old Townsend native Chris Goulet, who picked up his resto skills over the years by tinkering with all things mechanical and by helping his father work on cars (“He is very mechanically inclined, as was his father, so I guess it just runs in the family.”), will tell you.
Chris bought his car, which he takes for drives on warm summer days, when he was just 15 ~ although using the word “car” suggests that it was in one piece, which it most definitely was not, although it did have all the matching numbers. Chris and his dad did all the restoration (except the windshield installation) themselves. As for the original 250 L6 and PowerGlide tranny, those were quickly disposed of with a “Yeah, those gotta go.” In went a TH350 with a B&M Shiftkit and 2100 stall holeshot converter, followed by a 350 crate engine from a 69 Camaro SS. What is the engine packing now? Says Chris proudly, “Try a HiPo cam, port and polish head job, .030 over bore, flat top pistons, 10.5:1 comp, 2.02/1.60 valves, Accel header plugs, Edelbrock intake, Edelbrock 600cfm carb, hedman headers, Mallory Comp 9000 Breakerless Distributor. Also MSD Ignition, Taylor plug wires, Crane Cams Vacuum Canister. And to top all that 350, Chris and his dad added 40 Series Delta Flow Flowmasters with X-pipe, ‘cause I hate the 67 behind-the-wheel-dumpouts, so now it looks sick with the big chrome tips runnin’ down the sides in the back.”
Although devoted to his “Misty,” as he calls the Camaro, Chris also has a solid axle Toyota pickup trail rig that he built himself, and lists as his dream car a slammed ‘65 Chevy Nova no-post. But right now, he’s very, very proud of the work he’s done so far on the ’67 and had big plans to continue bringing her back to full glory.
Chris best explains in his own words what the car ~ and the entire restora tion project ~ have meant to him: “I bring it to shows, but don’t compete. I just enjoy seeing my car there, and meeting other people. It’s not in show condition, it was built for me, not the judges. It’s a triumph that I was able to bring it back from a pile of metal in someone’s backyard, to a great all-around classic that I built with my own hands, everything from the interior to the paint.”
Pulse Reader Alex Allan and his 2004 Subaru STI
By Steph Moore
Pulse reader Alex Allen wrote to us about his silver 2004 Subaru STI and asked that we make sure to tell everyone that it was tuned and run on the Dyno at Enhanced Street Performance (also featured in this article). The car rated over 400hp, pulling only on pump gas and 18lbs boost, and without alcohol injection. Here’s a list of the modifications Blais has already finished on the STI, his (get this) daily driver!
AEM Eugo Wide-band o2 Sensor With AFR Gauge
ACT 6 Puck Clutch
Crawford S3 Engine Block (Eagle Long Rods, Fully Forged Pistons, Rings)
Custom Welded IC Piping
Boost Cooler *Water/Alcohol Injection
Eclipse Dash Unit, Displaying Gauges Digitally
Greddy Oil Catch Can, Greddy Oil Plate, Greddy 2 Bar Boost Gauge, Greddy Profec B Boost Controller
HKS Circle Earth Grounding System, HKS Twin Power Ignition, HKS Camp System, HKS Oil Temp Sensor, HKS Coolant Temp Sensor, HKS Boost Pressure Sensor, HKS Hypermax 2 Coilovers
HKS Type II Turbo Timer
Koyo High Flow Radiator
K&N True Cold Air Intake
Perrin 1100cc injectors, Perrin Coolant Hoses, Perrin Crank Pulley, Perrin Vac Lines
Seibon Carbon Fiber Vented Hood
Tial 44mm Waste Gate
Turbo XS FMIC, Turbo XS BOV, Turbo XS Axle Back Exhaust
Turbo XS Map Selector, Turbo XS Knock Light, Turbo XS UTEC Tuned By ESP
Ultimate Racing GT35R Custom Turbo Kit
Walbro 255 Fuel Pump
Once the weather warms up, Blais is going for peak power with Crower heads and cams.
Enhanced Street Performance
Home of the 1100-SE-AWD by Mustang Dynamometer
By Emily Kopec
Walk into Enhanced Street Performance in Sterling, MA and get ready to get drunk on chrome and horsepower. There’s a 2003 Porsche with the engine in the booty that got a major HP boost and now screams like a banshee. And an ’04 Nissan 350Z ~ with only 8K miles on it ~ that had its engine pulled and redone, got a shiny new supercharger and Lamborghini-style doors, and was lowered…way looooow…to the ground. It practically prowls. And David Brady, co-owner of ESP, smiles when recalling a 1970 Corvette that shook the building’s walls when it was on the Dyno: “Lots of goodies on that one. We focused on installing and tuning a FAST brand aftermarket fuel injection system that utilized 16 fuel injectors located in the bonnet of the supercharger. It’s controlled via laptop and put down over 600 horsepower at the wheels.”
What’s a typical day like at the shop? “There isn’t one.” The one constant, however, is the non-stop pursuit of the ultimate bomb ride.
Along with business partners Gregory Gemme and Karl Recknagel, Dave is in charge of modifying vehicles to their pimping-est perfection. ESP’s chassis Dyno ~ which goes up to a smoking 200mph ~ is a huge attraction for gearheads who want their high-end vehicles tuned immaculately. The boys treat tuning, which is done by laptop, as an exact science; Dave is quick to point out if a car is not properly tuned, serious damage can result.
So what’s the favorite ride of this Sultan of Speed? Dave has owned his 1975 red Pontiac Firebird for 15 years (since before he had his driver’s license) and did all the custom work on it himself, including the supercharger and fuel-injection system. And it doesn’t just sit in a garage ~ neither Dave nor his customers want their cars just sitting there looking pretty. They want to drive, enjoy, and yes, even show off their babies on a regular basis. Oh, and let’s not forget get them to go pretty darn fast. Says Dave with a chuckle, “We’re more fast than furious.”
Customers often throw the checkered flag for the ESP guys to do whatever it takes to morph mere vehicles into out-of-this-world speed machines. The crew then does careful research to get a quote and time frame for the project, placing major emphasis on the quality of parts (Dave explains it’s a popular trend for vehicle owners to buy cheap parts off the internet ~ especially eBay ~ but the products can be of poor quality and can lead to big problems if the quality isn’t there.) ESP guarantees all parts purchased from them (they have access to anything you see in the mail-order catalogs and big distributors used by competitive racing guys and can usually get it in fast) and even offers two rates: if you buy the part directly from them, you get a break on the labor.
How would Dave sum up the ESP method? “…We always spend a lot of time ensuring the quality of work is excellent. Whenever someone sees our work at a car show, race track, or anywhere, it reflects on our business. Everything has to be quality.”
So next time you need to pimp your ride bigtime, you know the guys to call. Just don’t expect to see any grills flashing when these boys give you service with a smile ~ They’re more fast than furious, remember?
Other vehicles that have gotten the ESP treatment
1975 Pontiac Firebird
455 Pontiac engine stroked to 472 cubic inches
Torker II Intake (modified for EFI)
Speedpro (FAST) fuel management system
68 lbs/hr Siemens fuel injectors
SX performance fuel pump/regulator
1000 CFM Force FI 4-barrel throttle body
Crane HI-6 Ignition
ATI Procharger running 10 PSI boost
Custom, front mount, air-to-air intercooler
Headman Hussler 2” primary tube coated headers
Dual 3” exhaust through Flowmaster mufflers
LT1 T-56 6 speed Transmission
Dana 60 posi rear end with 4.10 gears
Tuned on our chassis dynamometer…Currently dynoing at 668 ft-lbs of torque at the rear wheels.
2003 Chevy Corvette
Procharger’s Stage II P1SC supercharger
Twin high-flow side mount intercoolers
Larger fuel injectors
Low temp thermostat
Vehicle made 503 HP at the rear wheels
Nissan 350z Details
Wise co low-compression pistons
Vortech Supercharger kit
Level 10 torque converter and shift kit
Borla exhaust system
Split Second engine computer
Full body kit and Lamborghini style doors
For more pix and info about ESP, head to enhancedstreetperformance.com
Restorin’ Rosie the Gran T
East Coast Autoworks’ Crash Course in Pimpin’
By Allie Bombz
I can’t hide it. I’ve got a big problem. Allie Bombz is a classic car junkie. My current obsession? 1 mint 70s luxury muscle car ~ “Rosie,” a 1974 Ford Gran Torino Elite ~ she’s a cross between Starsky & Hutch and Superfly~ Hot Rod Lincoln style. Mag wheels, vinyl top…bad ass. Sit in her and you transform into Kojak. Or Ironside. A 70s TV badass. That’s the cool thing about a classic car. You sit in it and you are suddenly a suave disco mobster. “Yo! It’s Kojak! You got my money?”
Unfortunately, nowadays, there’s some Bad News Bears in Rosie’s profile, too. She’s got a rust issue. It’s distressing. I don’t want to be lookin’ like The Big Lebowski when I roll (The Dude also drove a Torino ~ check it!) ~ so I took Rosie down to see my pal Dan Ford at East Coast AutoWorks at 189 Washington Street in the Green Island neighborhood.
Dan took one look at my Torino. “You need the Crash Course!” I’m like, “Call it what you want, pal, I need my wheels lookin’ tiptop.” Lookin’ around the EastCoast shop, it’s tough not to pop a mad car boner. In Bay 2 sits a 1957 Packard, bronze and mint. Outside in the yard sit two 1930s Dodges. A kid in the corner is tack welding together a psycho street trike frame. It’s a scene out of Max Mad Pimps My Ride.
Dan offers some advice to a teenage kid attaching a bumper to a car. This is Crash Course. Crash Course is, in his words, “…real life job training for kids looking to get off the streets and into the automotive workforce.” It’s a program I devised to get disenfranchised kids off the street and into a trade where they can make a good living through hard work.”
I ended up hangin’ out for the afternoon, getting coffee and tryin’ not to seem like it doesn’t bother me that these kids, half my age, have got way more skills with a mig welder and a wrench than I got. Whatever. Hey, I’m freakin’ Kojak! They should be honored to work on my glorious classic street rod, right?
So then Ramon, the 16 year old Crash Course mechanic, told me, “Yo son, you gonna have to get that hunk of junk out of my way ~ I got 3 jobs going on right now, and they are going to be ready by 6 p.m.” What? That would never happen to Superfly. Nobody would ever tell Charles Bronson he’s gonna have to wait. It got me to thinking ~ if these kids are that busy, they must have some skills.
“We could have this thing lookin real mean,” one of the kids says. “We gonna chop the top, shear the bumpers… watch. You really gonna look badass.” All the sudden I heard the soundtrack to Kojak, real loud inside my head. Yeah! Kojak is on the comeback!
So what’s going on while the soundtrack is playin’ loud?
Choppin’ The Top ~ we’re droppin’ the roof height by approximately 4 inches by “chopping” portions of the roof and glass. The chopped top will provide a very streamline, sinister look, popular among low riders.
Slammin’ It ~ Ms. Rosie will be sittin’ low on the asphalt following a slam to the suspension system.
Shavin’ the Handles and Bumpers ~ This little operation will eliminate the clunky 70s look and provide a sleeker profile to the car.
…But Keepin’ the Powerplant ~ We’re leaving the 351 Windsir 2-barrel as is in keepin’ with my “Ride Low, Glide Slow” driving strategy. We will install straight pipe exhaust to let the big block V8 growl and snarl at the wimpy front wheel drive librarian mobiles.
The end result will be a sinister looking bad guy mobile. Yeah, you know it!
For updates on the progress of Rosie’s resto, visit albombz.com/Pontiac
By Sam Blier
Sure, you got a new exhaust system, added some chrome pieces and leather handlebar tassels, but is your bike really custom? If you headed over to Barnstorm Cycles in Worcester and had father and son team Doug and Jake Cutler build you a brand new bike from the ground up, then you would have a truly custom bike. And the bike they would build you would follow their personal motto, bikes built by riders for riders, meant to be ridden. Barnstorm builds beautiful bikes, but they are not into trailer queens. You see, riding is in the Cutler blood. Doug and Jake’s mother were married on a motorcycle, and Jake grew up around hogs his entire life, wrenching on them along the way. Doug’s lifelong dream was to own a custom bike shop and finally, a couple of years ago, that dream became a reality and Barnstorm Cycles was born. They have since poured their hearts and souls into two magnificent, fully custom originals and have modified quite a few others. If you attended the Summer Nationals last year, chances are you strolled past their showroom at 300 Main Street and saw Jake laying down some serious rubber in a Barnstorm original.
Of the bikes that Barnstorm has built, the hands-down crow’s favorite is a chopper with an understated tuxedo paint scheme, built around a single down tube Santee rigid frame, stuffed with a big 100” Revtech V-Twin motor hooked to a five-speed tranny. Part of what makes it so popular are the good looks afforded to it by a 10” over front end with raked trees and internal stops. The bike is nice enough to stand out in a crowd, but not so elaborate as to not be an everyday rider.
In keeping with their philosophy of “custom bikes built to ride,” these bike aficionados build the kind of bikes they like to ride ~ though they would happily honor any and all requests a client might have ~ and they log plenty of miles. The Cutler family makes the yearly pilgrimages to Sturgis, Laconia, and other bike shows, conventions and rallies all over the country, lately on Barnstorm originals. They know what it takes to build a motorcycle that’ll haul ass for days and look fantastic doing it. And being bikers themselves, they understand that not everyone can afford to drop high-five figures on a bike that they won’t want to take out of its hermetically sealed garage. They build honest bikes priced competitively with a brand new Harley-Davidson.
Before you think that Barnstorm Cycles is a one-trick pony, know that they’re also an authorized dealer for some of the better known brands of Harley Davidson custom parts and accessories. And just to prove how dedicated they are to the motorcycle culture, they even go so far as to build into the price of custom jobs the entrance fee to the Massachusetts Motorcycle Education Program. The Cutlers are all about riding motorcycles and promoting the biking culture. They truly are about custom bikes, built to ride.
Make sure to check out www.barnstorm.us ~ you won’t believe these custom creations!
Ron’s Auto Restoration
By Sam Blier
They say you never forget your first car. Well, this is especially true for Ron since he has never really stopped working on Corvettes, the car that stole his heart all those years ago. The low-lying brick building that is Ron’s Auto Restoration may not be much to look at, but inside, as they say, is where all the magic happens. Stepping into the unassuming building is like being transported to a 1950s Chevrolet dealership during a Corvette sale. Ron’s Auto Restoration is nationally known for restoring vintage Corvettes to the condition they were in when they first rolled off the showroom floor so many decades ago. And Ron should know a thing or two about the darling of the Chevy line-up, having acquired his first Corvette in 1966. That one he turned into a full-blown drag car which he raced quite successfully. These days, he’s more into restoring than enhancing, as a car restored to brand new condition is worth far more than one modified in any way. And in case you’re wondering what kind of money we’re talking about, a full restoration will run $50K -$80K, and prime examples, like those done by Ron and his team, routinely sell for as much as triple what it cost to restore them.
Having participated in the Bloomington Gold Corvette show for the past 20 years, and having been a judge at that same show for 15 years, Ron knows a thing or two about what it takes to build a show-winner. Bloomington Gold is the country’s premiere Corvette event. Its trophies are kind of like Superbowl rings for the Corvette faithful. Ron’s Corvettes routinely take home top awards, so it’s no wonder Corvette owners come from far and wide to give their beloved vehicles a new lease on life. The National Corvette Restorers Society holds Ron’s Auto Restoration in such high regard they recently held an annual tech session there where members came to be schooled in the finer points of Corvette restoration.
Gary Wolf, of Who Framed Roger Rabbit fame, tapped Ron’s Auto Restoration to build his classic Corvette. The build was chronicled from its earliest stages in Vette Magazine, bringing additional recognition to the shop. Other higher profile restos recently entrusted to the shop are a 1959 SCCA race car and a late 60s Motion Perfomance modified Vette. They’re also currently working on a 1954 Corvette, the first ever (Vettes debuted in 1953 for the ’54 season). The oldest cars are a challenge, as they were almost entirely hand built and not nearly up to modern standards.
Having been a Corvette fan for the better part of his life, it’s no mystery why people of similar devotion from all over the country entrust their precious Vettes to Ron and his crew.
More of Ron’s Vette restos are on display at www.ronsautorestoration.com
Hooligan Motoring/Flynn’s Autos
By Sam Blier
“Maybe it wasn’t the best business model, but I love what I do and I wouldn’t have it any other way.” Worcester native Ryan Flynn, owner of Hooligan Motoring and Flynn’s Autos, is referring to his reasons for starting his business sixteen months ago. It all started a few years ago when Flynn felt that he overpaid to have his car customized at another shop, especially since “…once my check cleared, they wouldn’t even pick up my calls, it was like a slap in the face.” If success is the best revenge, then Flynn has certainly evened up the score.
I met with Flynn at his shop, or his “home away from home” as he’s begun to refer to it, as he was returning from a weekly used-car auction he attends to keep his dealership fully stocked. After walking past an immense flat-screen television broadcasting auto racing, I entered the surprisingly un-cluttered showroom ~ surprisingly because of the incredibly amount of merchandise it houses, from chrome rims to high-intensity-discharge headlamps and everything in between.
Flynn, 24, created Hooligan Motoring with his prior less-than-pleasurable experiences as a customer in mind. “We sell anything you could ever want for your car, but what makes us different is our customer service.” Flynn and his six full-time certified technicians do everything from installing custom wheels and tires to installing performance enhancing engine upgrades to fully customizing an entire vehicle from the inside out. While they obviously don’t skimp on the sales portion of the equation, Flynn considers service to be equally, if not even more, important.
Some of the finest examples to have rolled out of the Hooligan garage at 1317 Main St. can be seen parked at Gillette Stadium. New England Patriots CB Ellis Hobbs is one of Flynn’s most satisfied customers, and has told more than a few of his well-heeled friends and teammates about how happy he is with the GMC Yukon that the Hooligan team fully customized. This word-of-mouth led to more satisfied Patriots, and thanks to Hobbs’ enthusiasm, Flynn now has twelve NFL players in his cell phone.
The key to Hooligan Motors’ success has been Flynn’s policy of treating every customer like he does his celebrity clients. “I’m on call 24/7. I’m only 24 years old; I want to be here when I’m 50. It’s all about building relationships.” It seems like building relationships keeps Flynn pretty busy; he puts in between 60-80 hours every week, which explains why this past year has been both the most difficult and the fastest year of his life.
Luckily, cars have long been a passion of his. Ever since he first started driving, Flynn has been working on cars. His obsession with automobiles began right after his obsession with members of the fairer sex did: “Yeah, girls and cars pretty much went hand in hand with me,” recalls Flynn with a grin.
As far as his role within his own company, Flynn is relatively hands-off with the customers’ vehicles. “I’m the dummy with the money. I leave the labor up to the certified technicians, but I definitely know what looks good and what sounds good.” If the trophies in the shop’s window from the DUB and Funkmaster Flex car shows are any indication, Flynn’s judgment is miles beyond just “good.”
When asked what advice he has for anyone hoping to start his or her own custom shop, Flynn jokes “Don’t do it! But seriously, find someone who’s experienced who’s willing to help you because it’s always better to have friends in the industry. Also, do your research.” Flynn first thought that he could start his shop with $20,000, but just under a year and a half later he has over $100,000 invested in it.
But, despite the tens of thousands of dollars and countless hours of blood, sweat and tears Flynn has poured into Hooligan Motoring, he is doing what he loves, and loves what he is doing.
Pulse Reader Bill Monnie and his Suzuki TL 1000 R
By Sam Blier
Bill Monnie is the kind of guy who doesn’t ever stay satisfied very long. This shows in the four times he’s completely torn apart and rebuilt his motorcycle, a Suzuki TL 1000 R, since he bought it brand new in 2000. Luckily for Bill, and his bank account, he’s also a do-it-yourselfer, having performed a major portion of the extensive work on his bike by himself or with the help of friends.
Bill first got into motorcycles at the tender young age of 13 with a used dirt bike he finally persuaded his father to buy him. He rode that Kawasaki KX80 for almost a year, until it was replaced by a brand new Honda CR 125 dirt bike. Bill and a friend of his raced their dirt bikes for a few years until they finally got their learners’ permits. But Bill never stopped riding bikes, he just traded dirt for pavement, cruising around on his father’s Harley Davidson Sportster 1200. Then, rather than borrow his father’s bike all the time, Bill saved up some money and bought his first sports bike, a Suzuki Bandit 400.
Now officially obsessed with sports bikes, Bill currently owns a Suzuki TL 1000 R and two Honda CBR 929RRs. The Hondas have been converted to stunt bikes, while the Suzuki has been converted to, well, something quite unique and extremely fast.
In its latest incarnation, Bill’s Suzuki was meticulously painted a menacing gloss black with powder-coated red accents, graphite rims, powder-coated frame and a powder-coated, and a custom 15 inch jack drive swing arm from Downs Performance. The bike sports a custom exhaust system from Craig Roberts Fabricating and a 260 tire wrapped around the rear wheel, custom made by Toce Brothers Performance. The piece de resistance, and what really turns heads, is the fully functional nitrous oxide system. The bike comes straight from the factory with a healthy 1000cc V-Twin power plant, but under the influence of the gas the bike is nothing more than a blur. The horsepower gains that nitrous gives cars weighing thousands of pounds is magnified on a motorcycle with such an impressive power-to-weight ratio. What was once a damn quick bike is now a truly insanely fast bike.
As Bill’s Suzuki never seems to stay the same for very long, plans are already in the works for a new paintjob by Dustin King Enterprises. Also in the works are 24kt gold accents and another custom rear rim by Toce Brothers that will accommodate a ridiculously wide 300 centimeter tire.
The rarity of a custom TL is what drives Bill to keep his bike ever-evolving. But no matter what it looks like off the gas, it’s guaranteed to always look the same on the gas ~ a streak of motion.
290 Auto Body
By Sam Blier
A Worcester native and Doherty Memorial High School graduate, Justin Furkuo has already made a name for himself on the custom car scene in Worcester. Now he’s finally achieved his dream of opening his own shop, and 290 Customs is already turning out some impressive work from its LaGrange Road home in Worcester. Justin is a trained auto body mechanic by trade, and over the years he has also honed his paint skills and caught some major attention in the process. Thanks to his education from New England Technical Institute and several years experience, customers have been calling on Justin for his metal fabricating skills to separate their rides from the rest of the herd. Though he has spent most of his career working on cars, Justin’s equally passionate about motorcycles ~ and it shows in the wild sport bikes that have rolled out of 290, complete with one-of-a kind hand fabricated body work and outrageous paint jobs. Justin is also known for the paint jobs he and the gang at 290 have turned out on full size cars. He’s been tapped by many area shops to do paint jobs for their clients’ cars, and even for their own personal rides. For example, Ryan Flynn of Hooligan Motoring (also featured in this issue) entrusted his low-rider to Justin’s paint gun, and the result was outstanding. 290 Customs is also known for their excellent airbrush work and custom pin striping, two major ways to get some truly customs details on your ride.
Besides the custom cycles and $10,000 paintjobs, the shop’s largest ~ and most unexpected ~ undertaking is the full restoration of a 1973 Maxim S Model fire truck for the Worcester Fire Brigade Pipes and Drums. It’s been a massive undertaking, as the truck has seen decades of rigorous use. Everything from the engine to the brakes to the body is in dire need of attention. The truck should be ready for its debut in the Worcester and Boston Saint Patrick’s Day Parades. The 290 crew has been working around the clock to get the truck ready, and have even generously donated a lot of their own time to the cause, alongside the president of the Pipes and Drums himself. The truck will be a monumental testament to the mechanical, paint and fabricating skills of the shop; it has been an important part of the Pipes and Drums, participating in statewide events like the Special Olympics, firefighter fundraisers and parades. That 290 Customs’ reputation has already reached beyond the custom car community and has caught the attention and earned the respect of the Worcester Fire Department says a lot about what Justin and his crew can do.
Although 290 Customs has a diverse and growing clientele, and have already completed many unique projects, Justin sees himself as just getting started. “The best is yet to come,” he states confidently. With the quality of work already coming out of the shop, and the drive and determination of everyone on the crew, it’s easy to believe him.
Check out more of the 290 crew’s skills at www.290autobody.com
Nicely done, Sam.
290 auto body is gonna be the next big thing you guys just wait and see, there is no place like it that does evrything they do all in the same place. You guys watch out for it and please support
send me a few of these there super fly!!
One of these days I have to go to the Barrett Jackson auction. It’s not far from my house, and I love the cars I see on TV. I always wondered how much I would have gotten for my old convertible if I sold it through them.