MOTORING: Platinum Motorsports
Featured in Freestyle Volume 08 2009. Interview by Jeremy Shields.
Photography by Jorge Peniche & Platinum Motorsports.
Ever thought you were ‘living the dream’? Thrashing Lambos, eating cupcakes, and hanging with the U.S.A.’s A-list is just another day at the office for Jack and George – owners of L.A.’s Platinum Motorsports.
A one-stop shop for high rollers, celebrities, anyone, to give their ride a makeover, where exactly did it all begin and did you ever think you would end up so successful?
GEORGE: Um, it all started in 1998, 11th grade high school. It was cool, man. I mean, we've been in the automotive game for a minute. Our father, he's been in the business for over 35, 40 years so it was kind of a natural path for us to follow. At the time we were kind of messing around and getting into some bad stuff on the street, so my father decided that it was a good outlet to put us on the right path, you know.
When looking at your website it's obvious you guys have touched, smelt and simply experienced most forms of automotive exotica since Platinum kicked off. Are there still times when you have to pinch yourself?
GEORGE: Um, it was real fast, man. Everything happened fast-paced. It feels like blink of an eye and shit just changed, you know what I mean? Sometimes we do have to pinch ourselves and be like “where are we starting and where are we at right now? We're still going”.
JACK: Beverly Hills, West Hollywood, everywhere you roll you see all the hot cars rolling with our plates. So it's a crazy thing. It's crazy to see that, yeah.
Tell us a little bit about your services that you offer. Rims are obviously a big part of your business, but what else can you do for us next time we're in LA and we want our Enzo to stand out a little bit more?
JACK: To us, this is the way we look at it: It's a fashion statement. Just like your shoes or your denim, you know, it's just a way of expressing yourself. So it doesn't necessarily have to mean you've got to throw a set of wheels on the car to change it up. It could be little interior details, you know what I mean? You want your car to speak for you, so we make that car resemble you in a way.
So according to your blog, we've heard that you guys are big fans of cupcakes. What's your favourite type and why?
GEORGE: Red velvet, man, hands down. You can't fuck with nothing else except that red velvet.
JACK: Yeah, Sprinkles. Sprinkles Cupcakes in Beverly Hills. That's the business.
What do you guys drive yourselves every day?
GEORGE: My baby I run every day is an Aston Martin Vanquish. I've got it kitted out with wheels and the whole nine yards with the interior, all carbon fibre.
JACK: I've got a Murcielago now. I just got it a few months back and we just finished a whole kit for it. Since I was a kid I always wanted to pick up that car so that's an accomplishment.
Got anything else on the specials desk in your garage?
Like today, you know, a sunny Sunday, Melrose?
JACK: We've got a few cars. I mean, besides our every day drivers we've got a Rolls Royce Phantom, we've got a Maybach so, you know, we've got a few other things.
GEORGE: If he feels like he wants to drive my Maybach, he drives my Maybach. If I want to drive his Lambo, I drive his Lambo.
So you deal with celebrities and other people with healthy bank balances a lot, requiring services that go above and beyond the norm. Have you ever reached the point where a customer has become more trouble than the job is worth?
GEORGE: Sometimes, yes. Man, you know, I ain't going to lie. We try to service our VIP clientele as well as we can, and we go overboard with it too. At the end of the day business is business, but sometimes, man, that turns around and bites you in your ass, you know what I mean?
JACK: One of the most important things – like, let's say a celebrity, is that they trust us, you know what I mean? For example, Jermaine Dupri will fly in from Atlanta. It will be like, "I picked up a new Lam and a new Bentley GT, you know. You guys do whatever you guys want to it. I trust you with your name on it so if the shit looks bad, it's you guys. If it looks good, it's you guys", so trust is real important when it comes to dealing with high profile customers.
On the topic of celebrities we notice you checked out a Range Rover for the lovely Kim Kardashian, just one of the perks of the job, huh?
JACK: Yeah, definitely one of the perks of the job, man. Kim's cool. We've been knowing Kim for a long time, like, before they were on TV and all that stuff. She used to come to us from back in the day, so we've known her and the family for a long time.
Do you ever get a little star struck or intimidated when someone like Ludacris rocks up or is it just a day in the life for you guys now?
GEORGE: In the early stage, man, yeah. But now we have a relationship with these people, you know. We go out with these people, we spend time together. We're out partying together, so it's more of a relationship and that's why that lifestyle brand part of Platinum has become so big.
Following on that same topic, you've dealt with everyone from Travis Barker to Lil' Kim, which celeb jobs have been your favourite?
JACK: That's a tough one. I mean we've done a lot of people, but I've got to say one of them that was real easy to do and real cool to deal with has to be Jermaine Dupri.
GEORGE: Andrew Bynum - got to keep it real about the Lakers - he takes his automotive projects and builds to the next level. He has import cars, American cars, Bentleys, just about everything you can think of. He just bought a Ferrari 430 - a baby blue one - from the factory and we'll put a Novatech super charger on it, wheels. When he's hurt he goes even crazier because he has downtime.
So what's the wildest custom car you guys have done to date and what was done to it?
GEORGE: We did a truck. It was a demo truck we did for Axe (men’s body spray).
JACK: Oh, yeah, Axe. The project was building a modern day shag van because you know how, like, all the Axe commercials has to do with guys getting girls or whatever so we took a brand new Infinity - the big SUV Infinity - gutted the whole inside out, put like a partition with a plasma TV, a mechanical bull inside.
GEORGE: It had mirrors on top of the roof, a big plasma TV. But don't get us wrong, we're not Pimp My Ride, you know what I mean?
On that topic, TV shows such as Rides, Overhauling, Wrecks to Riches, American Chopper, etc, have opened a lot more eyes to the customising side of car ownership. Do you think shows such as these have helped your business expand?
GEORGE: Yes and no. Yes, because it educates people in, you know, the different aspects of the automotive game, but no in the point of… I don't want to sound like I'm bragging or I'm just trying to play anybody down or any other company… We give it up to everybody, we respect everybody in the business, you know, our hats off. They do their thing, but ours is a little bit different, you know what I mean? We're taste makers, man. We're image makers. We're able to take you and, you know, put it into your car. It's a lifestyle brand, it's a little bit different to everybody else.
What's the fastest car you've driven and what was it like?
GEORGE: You've got to answer that.
JACK: The fastest car till now I've got to say the Carrera GT. We have a few customers that have them but that car is just the craziest. I like to drive, you know, I drive the shit out of all my cars but the Carrera GT is crazy. It's a scary car. The car I would like to drive that I haven't driven yet is the new Bugatti.
Say we drop off an '06 Pontiac GTO on you, yeah, it's a shit car but something us Aussies can relate to, and tell you to go loose on it. What are we going to see when we come back to pick it up?
GEORGE: Something like that we probably, you know, look into the performance a little bit more than the cosmetic thing. Performance would probably be the key on that car, what do you think?
JACK: Suspension and the turbo - all that stuff…
GEORGE: We can shoot it matte black, you know, with two tone maybe, you know what I mean? Something with matte and shiny going on like the Lambo that we have out there.
We kind of touched upon what makes you guys different, but to go into further detail, what is it about Platinum that sets you apart from many of those shops and what brings the big names?
GEORGE: We're a lifestyle brand, you know. We're not just that regular automotive shop, man. If there's a hot event going on in town, you know, best believe we're going to be there. If there's a red carpet we're going to be a part of it some way, somehow, so we try to stay real active with that stuff. We want to make sure that our brand is seen everywhere, not just in automotive magazines. It's in lifestyle magazines, events and parties and anything that's happening, you know, grand openings, anything that's happening in the city. We have our own water, we're getting into clothing, you know, so just branding our name in the way where it's not just automotive based. That's where the lifestyle part kicks in.
JACK: As far as actual work though, like work to be done at the shop, I mean one of our key things is everything we do is in-house. We've got three locations right now. We've got the Melrose location, we've got a location on Sunset Boulevard and we then have a warehouse location, so everything done to the car from A to Z is done here, whether it's interior, suspension, sound, exhaust, you know what I'm saying, wheels, like the whole deal, paint… It doesn't go through too many different hands. It's better quality that way.
Project Magnum is one of the hottest Cayenne's we've ever seen. What was the goal for this particular project and what modifications were made to achieve this?
JACK: The Cayenne, the Cayenne… The car is a Cayenne Turbo S, so even stock is like the highest ranking you can get. I think I got the car first at the Sunset shop where we basically stripped down the complete car and painted the whole car matte black and then it came over to the Melrose shop, and then George and them did the whole Magnum white body kit, the 24 inch our own wheels.
GEORGE: The car we believe is probably the fastest European SUV on the market. It's the Turbo S like Jack said - an aggressive and fast car to start with. So when the client came in and he wanted to have that Magnum kit put on, we came up to him with the idea and we told him "Look, let's do the car matte and we'll give a more aggressive and sleek kind of look to it." So he was all up for it, you know. We came up with a two tone scheme on the wheels and matte black for the car.
Tell us about other aspects of your business such as the car rental side. Who rents cars off you and how big a part of your business is it?
JACK: Our rental car company that we opened is called Platinum Worldwide Rental Car. We opened it in February, so it's been about a year now but it's gone, you know, way beyond a lot of other companies in its class already. We have a huge fleet of all high-end vehicles plus your every day rental.
GEORGE: We're in the concerns of a few companies. I mean, I'm going to name, I don't care, you know, like Hertz
and Enterprise, we feel like we're giving them a run for their money, man.
GEORGE: Platinum's always been known to supply vehicles for music videos and commercials and movies and so on and so forth. We can confidently say that if you open up any of the, you know, major channels that display music videos like MTV or whatever, if they're LA based, LA shot, you know, I want to say, if they have automobiles in them, 90% of them are supplied by us. A recent one that a lot of press is given behind and people were talking about is Chris Brown.
Which was the next question...
GEORGE: Chris Brown rented the Gallardo from us.
JACK: Grammies, Oscars, you know, music awards, a lot of that stuff is in LA so a lot of our clientele comes in from different parts of state. They roll in here they're not going to jump into a regular rental car, so they'll come to us. They'll be in cars for a couple of weeks at a time during the awards and one of the most recent ones was that Chris Brown situation.
GEORGE: And our rental fleet is a real wide range. We've got basic cars and cars such as PT Cruisers and Jeeps and vans to our high end selection is which Phantom, Ferrari 430, Maserati, Range Rovers, a brand new Spider.
JACK: A lot of our high line cars come with wheels and come with paint and all that stuff so it looks more like a personalised car.
So to conclude what's in the pipeline for Platinum in the future as far as both project cars and as business goes? Where to from here?
GEORGE: Right now, honestly, you know, we're constantly trying to work on taking this to the next level. We're not greedy - but you're not satisfied. When you start something and you see where it's going and you have the love and passion for it, you constantly trying to up that bar and take it to the next step.
JACK: It's that drive that we have for, you know, always doing something bigger. Like, everything that we wanted to do so far, you know, we work hard at it and accomplish it. We never stop with new ideas and new companies and new additions. I mean, we started off with Platinum Motorsport, right, we have Platinum Collision Centre now, we have the rent-a-car, we have a picture vehicle department, we have body guard services, executive protection service, concierge service. I mean, we just, you know, keep adding on whatever we can. The plan is to make it a huge corporation, and basically, you know, watch it grow.
GEORGE: Clothing is something we definitely want to hit hard, shoes…
GEORGE: You know, princes and the royal families from Dubai. We've been working with these people for six, seven years with their families and they've been telling us let's set up a Platinum Motorsport there. That's a possibility. You know, Dubai's probably the next biggest tourist attraction spot, you know, coming real soon. So just a few things of that nature.
Sounds good, man. I appreciate your time, you know. We see your work, we respect it and hopefully we've got many more to come.
JACK: You guys are great, man, Freestyle's the business for sure. Keep it up.
To find out more about Platinum Motorsports visit www.platinummotorsports.com
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