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A Bust as a Busboy, Now a Customizer to Celebrities

(ARA) - Will Castro is known as the “car customizer to the stars,” with a reputation among entertainers and sports figures as the one to see for one-of-a-kind showpieces. His company, Unique Autosports, based in Long Island, N.Y., has a following not just among the rich and famous, but with fans around the country who just appreciate the quality and uniqueness of the finished product -- even if they will never be able to afford it.
Castro works with celebrities like Jennifer Lopez, Busta Rhymes, Carmelo Anthony, Yao Ming and Latrell Sprewell every day; the average ticket for one of his customization jobs is $40,000. That’s quite an accomplishment for a guy who started his business by running a car cleaning service in his mom’s driveway in Islip, N.Y.

The road to success started when Castro worked as a busboy at an upscale New York restaurant. “I kept spilling things, so they moved me to valet parking,” he explains. “I got infatuated with fancy cars, since I was parking Cadillacs, Ferraris and Lamborghinis,” says Castro.

He went to work in an auto body shop owned by his wife’s uncle, where he learned detailing and light body work, as well as how the business side of the operation worked. His first venture, Willie’s Shape & Shine, did detail work for friends and local clients. His friends encouraged him to start doing rag tops, body kits and fancy wheels like they were seeing outside clubs in Manhattan.

Castro opened Unique Conversion in 1984, later changing the name to Unique Autosports. His first celebrity client was rap artist Erick Sermon, who brought Castro a Mercedes 300E to personalize after he signed his first record deal. Word spread through the rap community, and Castro established a loyal following. His business was on its way to the big time.

He entered the world of sports celebrities when Erick McMillan of the New York Jets brought in a wrecked BMW. This led to work for other Jets players as well as high-profile athletes around the country. As his reputation grew, so did his roster of rich and famous clients.

Castro says that he deals with four to five celebrities on any given day. Now television viewers will have a chance to see what that’s like on “Unique Whips,” a new show scheduled to debut in February 2005 on SPEED Channel. Filmed on location at Unique Autosports, the show will give viewers a look inside the world of celebrity car customizing to show how luxury cars become one-of-a-kind works of art.

But it’s not always fun and games. “We’ll show the good, the bad and the ugly of this business,” says Castro. “To do that honestly, we feel we have to show everything -- how we handle rich and powerful clients who believe we should feel privileged to do their car. I’m going to show the stuff that everyone else is afraid to put out there.”

Viewers will see everything from a simple job like installing custom wheels and tires (the most popular request) to the more outrageous, like the 14 televisions -- and satellite system -- Unique installed in a Mercedes G500.

Castro is enthusiastic about bringing his passion for cars to a wider audience. “I still get excited about working on different cars. So basically I wanted to find a way to share that experience,” he says.

SPEED Channel is the nation's first and foremost cable network dedicated to motor sports and the passion for everything automotive. From racing to restoration, motorcycles to movies, SPEED Channel delivers quality programming from the track to the garage. Now available in more than 68 million homes in North America, SPEED Channel is among the fastest growing sports cable networks in the country.

For more information, visit

Courtesy of ARA Content

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