Interview with Frankie K of Streets of LA: AA Autoworks
Our first encounter with this Van Nuys paint and custom mod shop was at the SEMA Show last year where they worked behind the scene on James Lin’s entry for the 2011 Scion tC Tuner Challenge. They came up with a sick body kit and hand-laid carbon-fiber trim pieces, covered the ride in a vibrant gold paint job and installed a custom turbo kit among other things. Recently, we attended one of their parties, known as The Event, a Hollywood style red carpet extravaganza in the San Fernando Valley. Furthermore, just a couple weeks ago, we got wind of the trailer for their new TV show and finally decided we needed to check these guys out in person and see what they’re all about… The following is our interview with Frankie K, shop manager and one part of the dynamic team from AA Autoworks that is pushing these guys to the forefront of the tuning scene in SoCal.
Can you tell us a little bit about the shop and how you guys got started?
AA Autoworks is a custom automotive shop located in Van Nuys, CA. We specialize in custom paint and body work. The services we offer include: custom one-off wide-body kits, hoods, fenders, body kits, one-off carbon-fiber products as well as custom paint mixtures. We also offer design consulting and project ideas. No job is too big or too small for AA Autoworks… You can also come to us for wheels and tires, suspension, interior or performance and engine modifications.
What’s your specialty and what sets you guys apart from the other operators out there?
I think the thing that really sets us apart from everyone else is the fact that we don’t care what people think about us, we don’t care what judges have to say about our cars and we don’t follow the rules of building a car. We don’t stick with one individual style or concept. We like to push the envelope and do things you don’t normally see. Our style is new and fresh. If you like it good, if you don’t then that’s your problem.
[Frankie Klepadlo | Photography: Maximilian Ho]
How did you and Karl and the rest of the crew meet?
Me and Karl first meet back in 2005. I had purchased a body kit from Kaminari USA for my Scion tC. Andy over at Kaminari said go check out my buddies shop AA Autoworks if you want to get the kit painted. I guess I went there one time and they just couldn’t get rid of me after that. I started hanging around every one at the shop more and more and eventually became the shop manager. Now, after six years, I run all operations of the shop with Karl and contribute to the success of AA Autoworks. The rest of the crew – Big Mike, Mr. Juan and Milton – just kind of came along. Big Mike and Milton were hanging around the shop before I was and Mr. Juan starting coming around a few years back. We come from all different backrounds but somehow we all came together to form this unique family.
[Karl Canta | Photography: Maximilian Ho]
What are the rides you for which you and the team are most proud?
There are about five cars that stand out that I would say I’m the most proud of. First is Big Mike’s 2005 Mitsubishi Evo. Big Mike’s car made the front cover of Super Street in March 2010. Second is Omar Rivas S2000. Omar’s car was on the front cover of Performance Auto and Sound December 2010. Third is Alvin Purtolanno (MizterG) G35. Alvin’s car was featured in Performance Auto and Sound March 2009. Fourth is The 2011 Scion tC we built for the 2010 Scion Tuner challenge. Last is my personal show car a 2006 Scion tC. This car was featured in the Scion United commercial, shown in Fast and the Furious 3, NCIS LA, Scion billboards and Performance Auto and Sound December 2008.
I understand you guys were at SEMA this year, was that a big deal?
I guess you can call SEMA a big deal. We were blessed with the opportunity to compete in this past year’s Scion Tuner Challenge. We were chosen to customize the new 2011 Scion Tc. It was a rough three months trying to hand make every little piece of the car which included a one-off wide body, carbon fiber doors, fenders, and quarter panels as well as a custom turbo set up and one insane custom interior. This is definitely a car that means a lot to me and is one of the cars we have built that I’m the most proud of.
AA is branching out and is starting to really showcase the tuning lifestyle putting on events and coming out with a TV show. First, tell us a bit about the “lifestyle” and what that means to folks who may not be hip.
A lot of people look at this import culture as a hobby, something they enjoy doing on their spare time. For us this is everything we know. It’s what we live. It’s what we breathe. The shop is like our second home. Normally we see each other more then we see or own families. The “lifestyle” consists of many things – the shop, the parties, the car shows, THE GIRLS. It’s an underground lifestyle that many people do not get to see. Just because you watched Fast and the Furious and put an exhaust on your Honda doesn’t make you a part of this lifestyle, it takes much more then that!
Give us a rundown on the TV show, tell us where we can check it out and what’s in store for the first season.
This show will take you into the lifestyle behind the custom car industry. We will take you into a world that has not been seen by many. You will see everything from the insane custom cars AA Autoworks builds to the sexy ladies that come with the lifestyle. Karl and I are two of the best known car builders in the underground scene of Los Angeles. We are young, talented car builders that are known for our fresh new ideas and pushing the envelope to the next level. With our boys Big Mike, Mr. Juan and Milton Silvia by our side we will stop at nothing to reach our goals.
This show is not just a car building show or a car customization show as many have tried to do. This is the lifestyle! We will not only show cars being built but you will get to see what happens to these amazing machines once they are completed. You will see the car shows they attend, the awards they win and the magazines they are featured in. You will also get to see what goes into actually building these cars. There is a lot of late nights at the shop where sometimes there is only a couple hours of sleep in between days. Because of the combination of lack of sleep and not being able to see eye to eye sometimes heads will butt, the drama will unfold, and you will be there for every minute of it.
It sounds like 2011 is going to be a big year for you guys, anything else on the horizon that we should keep an eye out for?
2011 is going to be an exciting year for all of us. We feel very fortunate to be in the position we are. We are working closely with a few major networks on getting our show picked up so look forward to seeing the first season of Streets Of LA: AA Autoworks coming soon. We also will be throwing round 2 of “THE EVENT” in March. For every one that missed the first one this is your opportunity to come party it up and check out one of SoCal’s most elite nightlife social events. Also look out for a number of articles coming out in 2011 including Firm400 magazine, Mateo magazine, My Import Fashion, Super Street and Import Tuner.
For more information visit www.aaautoworks.com or come stop by the shop at 14921 Delano St. Van Nuys CA 91411. (818)786-9668