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“I’m hot out there,” says Aston Taylor Jr., aka Funkmaster Flex. “No, I’m really hot.” But Flex isn’t talking radio. The top-rated DJ of international acclaim blazes the airways at his home station, Hot 97, in New York City. But when Flex is off the air he’s burning rubber in one of his custom made cars. His classics: a ’69 Dodge Charger RT inspired by the old TV hit The Dukes of Hazzard; a ’70 Chevrolet Chevelle SS; a ’70 Plymouth Duster; and his favorite, a ’66 Chevy Impala SS. “Everything has been restored 100%, leather interior, totally chrome engine,” says Flex. “I changed the motor and it’s got a lot of horsepower.”
The 35-year-old Bronx, New York, native customizes his new rides as well: a 2003 Lincoln Navigator and 2000 custom GMC Yukon XL, both of which will become Team Baurtwell vehicles when he’s completed designing and detailing them. Flex’s interest in customizing has attracted celebrity clients and includes interior painting, installing TVs, stereo systems, and wheels. In fact, Flex’s customizing has become so popular that several wheel companies including Dayton, O.Z. Racing, and Lexani are bidding to become associated with the Baurtwell brand.
Since childhood, Flex has been drawn to automotive shapes and designs. His first car was a ’84 Oldsmobile Delta 88, which was repossessed. The loss of his first major investment made him think seriously about how he handled his finances. “I never really forgot what it felt like to lose something that I bought, and how I had no control over it,” he reflects. “It changed how I approached spending and making my bill payments.” For one, he started paying them on time.
Flex’s next car was a ’79 Oldsmobile, which he bought in 1986. He became a serious collector four years ago. He has since had two successful celebrity car shows and formed Franchise Automotive Marketing with partner Javier Ortega.
Next on his shopping list are a 2003 Nissan Skyline, a ’41 Plymouth, and Chevys from ’55, ’56, and ’57. Flex revels in the attention his classics attract. “Especially from the older guys,” he says with a broad smile. “Each car has a story connected to it. I actually prefer to hear their stories, instead of telling mine. I like to hear about what they used to drive.” You can visit Flex and his cars online at www.funkmasterflex.com.
RESEARCH PUBLICATIONS: Magazines such as Collectible Automobile and Hemmings Motor News (www.hemmings .com) offer classifieds and value guides as well as shopping information. Also visit www.urbanracer.com and www.race waypark.com for auto-show dates and information.
SHOP AROUND: Most of Flex’s vehicles cost between $2,500 to $18,000 to purchase. But restoration can easily cost $100,000 per car. “I’ve never paid that,” boasts Flex. “I’m cheap and will go hunting.” He suggests calling around as well as visiting junkyards and mechanics for parts.