The Ultimate SUV: Pimp Your Ride

Turn your fresh-off-the-lot SUV into a personal piece of art with auto specialists like Galpin Auto Sports
 Galpin Auto Sports  Galpin Auto Sports

Are you creative enough to pimp your own ride? Talk to the guys at Galpin Auto Sports, and check out Exec Digital's November issue today! 


If you’ve got the personality of Lil’ Wayne and the ambition of Jay-Z, no average SUV is going to suit your needs – excessive embellishment, or “pimped out”– as the kids on the street like to say – is what you’ll need to take your car from average to overcharged. And the only way to get there the right way is with Los Angeles based Galpin Auto Sports – these guys are the experts in creating “pimped out” vehicles, and we’re not just saying that because MTV chose them as the body shop for their show “Pimp My Ride.”

Galpin Auto Sports has been taking your run-of-the-mill sports utility vehicles and turning them into gold-plated/ oversized rimmed/ tinted window/ metallic, purple paint driving vehicles since the ‘60s. Spurring from Galpin Ford – a two-time Brand Names Foundation’s Automotive Retailer of the Year Award winner –the term “galphinized” revolutionized the way customers looked at those puny little SUVs melting away on the average dealership lot.

Fifty years later, customers don’t have trouble bending the rules a little when it comes to discovering new ways to paint, plate and play with their SUV – especially at a company renowned for their work with Ford Motor Company. “Customers customize their cars because they want to personalize it; they want to make it their own,” says Director of Galpin Auto Sports Ted Mengiste. “That’s the driving force behind our customers – they want to project their personality through their cars; only one part of it is selecting the car.”

Customer-oriented Galpin Auto Sports (G.A.S) likes to point out that they might do the handy-work, but it’s their customers that reveal the creativity. “We always cater to what the customer wants,” adds Mengiste. “We don’t just build to build.”  And personalize they do – the SUVs Galpin Auto Sports receive are picked and prodded until every single compartment has been tweaked for owner approval. Or, in some cases, until G.A.S. has deemed it worthy. The latter was the case at 2010’s SEMA in Las Vegas – the guys at Galpin picked a modern hero – James Bond (who else?) – and turned an average Ford Explorer into a “clean-cut, high line luxury car” much like its clean-cut super-agent counterpart. The Ford Explorer turned into more than just an off-the-road vehicle for sports adventure, but a luxury experience where driving into the country club or up to an operas red carpet is just as classy as showing up in a Ferrari.

Customers might require a lot – but with endless amenities, there’s no harm in trying a little bit of everything. Interested in painting that Range Rover pink? No problem. Want to update that vintage Bronco? Turn those windows into bullet-proof machines with a customized tint and poshed-out the interior; or keep it classy with ambitious rims and personal televisions on every headrest, and “pimp out” the paint with fiery streaks of red and yellow.  Anything is possible. And because it’s an SUV, “size matters,” adds Mengiste.  

“There aren’t many different shops that will work on many different genres – we’ll go from building a 1932 Ford to working on prototypes that are from the factories. Our breath is very wide, and our differentiator is a level of service we provide our customers – from design to build – and our emphasis is always on quality, and follow-up with the customers. In that regard, we’re very professional and different than independent, smaller shops.”

It isn’t about working on customers all day (although with a client base that includes the country’s hottest celebrities, athletes and musicians, it’s a hard place to beat) – Galpin Auto Sports also attends car shows. Adding their presence to only the most prestigious ones, and Los Angeles is a boiler for hotspot vehicle premieres. Aside from showing off what they can do – like custom building a Jaguar to celebrate the car company’s 75th year – Mengiste admits the team loves to take a peek at everyone else’s custom work. “We always try to participate in as many shows as we can because it’s inspiration for us to be around other custom creators.”

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