“When you do good work, people talk about you.” That’s how Jhulio Tadeo explains it. And if you want to understand how to succeed in the custom car industry, Tadeo is your man.
Tadeo is the owner and President of Miami’s MC Customs – a shop that has designed and built an entire SEMA Show hall’s worth of custom cars over the last two decades. His clients have included some of Major League Baseball’s biggest stars, legendary names in Miami Heat basketball, and strangers who drive by you in rides that make you turn your head and drop your jaw.
It all started, Tadeo says, with fourth- and fifth-generation Honda Civics. In the early ’90s, MC Customs was Miami Chassis and Alignment – the shop other shops called when they had a problem they couldn’t solve. “Those old Civics...,” Tadeo tells, “Everybody used to slam ’em. And we were the only shop in town that could align them.”
When you do good work, people talk about you.MC Customs was taking work from every custom shop in Miami, and what started as alignments became more. “Most custom shops didn’t have a body shop back then,” he explains. “So we were doing a lot of work for other shops. We were doing the bodywork, we were fabricating. And at the end of the day, if we were doing the work for other shops, why not do it for ourselves?”
These days, though, the guys at MC Customs don’t make their name with Japanese sub-compacts. They work on some of the most exotic cars in the world, finding ways to improve on performance the world’s best engineers thought was good enough, and turning them into unique works of style and art.
Often, the clients are ballplayers.
That started, Tadeo mentions, with Miami Marlins all-star third baseman Placido Polanco. “He recommended us to people around the league,” Tadeo explains. “And little by little, they started spreading the word.”
High-profile clients, though, don’t tend to come with heavy demands. They trust MC Customs’ creative engineers with big decisions about their powerful cars. “I have guys – my biggest client ever is [MLB pitcher] Carlos Silva – guys like him let me do what I want to do,” Tadeo says. “They give me an idea and we take off from there.” Other heavy-hitter names in Tadeo’s smartphone includes Yankees Robinson Cano and “King” Felix Hernandez, who never hesitate to pick up the phone whenever their new rides need some dressing up.
And giving Tadeo and his team license to create can produce some amazing cars. Take for example Juwan Howard’s Lamborghini Aventador LP700-4.
The 690-horsepower Lamborghini Aventador is a beast of a car, going from a standstill to 62 mph in a Formula 1-like 2.9 seconds, then back to zero in a ridiculous 100 feet. It tops out at 217 mph, and features the lowest, meanest bodywork ever to come out of Sant’Agata Bolognese.
There’s just one problem with it…if you’re a six-foot nine-inch NBA champion – you don’t fit in it; which is why Miami Heat’s Juwan Howard went to Tadeo.
“Juwan brought it so we could retrofit the seat, the steering column, and the paddle shifters so he could fit into the car,” Tadeo says. But the project didn’t end there. By the time he was done with it, Howard’s Bull was a vicious matte black, with new Vellano Forged VKK wheels finished with orange accents and Pirelli P Zero Nero tires, deep tint, and a custom black and orange interior.
“Was it intimidating, dealing with one of the first Aventadors in the country?” Tadeo was asked. “No, bro, we loved it. I’m doing another one now for [Washington Redskins Lineman] Trent Williams.”
Yet, Tadeo is used to dealing with some of the world’s most exotic cars, though. On this months’ cover, next to the Aventador, you’ll see a McLaren MP4-12C that’s been given the MC Customs touch.
There aren’t many of those in the U.S., and the owner of this one didn’t want his name used – but Tadeo tells us his team put the 205-mph beast on 20-inch Savini SV39-M carbon fiber laced monoblock wheels, and the roof, and rear diffuser in 3M carbon fiber wrap.
Then there’s K-Rod’s Lamborghini Murcièlago LP 640…
Sometimes, the challenge isn’t just the car. It’s the pressure of the time constraints. Around the league, four-time MLB all-star Francisco Rodriguez, aka K-Rod, is known for his saves record and his sick white Murcièlago.
Tadeo can take credit for the second thing, but, he says, it wasn’t an easy project. “He only gave us two weeks to build that car,” he says. “We had to work around the clock to get it done.”
The LP features a full-custom sound system, a gorgeous matte white pearl paint (it’s not a color Lambo offered on the Murcièlago, but the new Aventador comes in a suspiciously similar coat – we think they noticed), and bearing a custom K-Rod logo.
But, visit MC Customs’ website this month, though, and you won’t find a celebrity’s car featured. Instead, you’ll see a badass yellow four-door Jeep Wrangler. “That’s not a ballplayer,” Tadeo says, “It’s for a local guy.”
The Wrangler features a matte yellow paint job that grabs your attention. It’s subtly contrasted by 26-inch Savini SV-9 wheels and exterior trim that feature Classic Trim WTP in matte yellow carbon fiber. A crazy sound system with ARC Audio amps and JL Audio subwoofers and a completely custom interior that also features Classic Trim WTP matte yellow carbon fiber complete the build.
“We developed a matte yellow black carbon fiber paint finish just for that car,” Tadeo confirms. “It took 4 to 5 months to build that car. The sound system alone was a $20,000 job.” Tadeo estimates that, all told, the customer put around $70,000 into the Jeep.
They work on custom projects that most custom shops can only dream about – but then, work like that was once a dream for MC Customs, too. A combination of sharp business skills, solid relationships that earn clients’ trust, and a few lucky breaks have carried these guys a long way from their days of doing wheel alignments on old Civics.