Whip It Good

Vett Capone has steered his custom-car business from lowriders to a new high.

Capone's got all the windows taped up on the F-150, and his crew pushes it into the painting room. They pull Evans's Caprice to the back of the shop, move Carmelo's Chevelle over and drive a gangster's Camaro out front. Mariney is cleaning Capone's office, and another one of Capone's seven employees is backing Camby's Cadillac Escalade into the shop. The Cadillac dealership is sending over a customer who's buying two Escalades, both of which he wants customized.

Gangster rap is blaring from the shop's stereo system. Capone has someone turn it down when a Middle Eastern man and woman walk up. The man is wearing sandals, the woman is wearing a burka and carrying a digital camera. She takes pictures as Capone shows them around the tinted windows, custom wheels and blacked-out light of Camby's Escalade. Capone pulls down the twenty-inch screen that he installed on the ceiling between the driver's and passenger's seats, each of which has its own screen and DVD player in the back of the headrest. Capone points out the suede interior, the boomin' system, the 28-inch rims and the $10,000 grille up front.

The man seems impressed.

Vett Capone is sitting pretty in Marcus Camby's '64 Lincoln Continental.
Anthony Camera
Vett Capone is sitting pretty in Marcus Camby's '64 Lincoln Continental.
Stacy Mariney (above) learned the custom-car business from Vett Capone, whose clients include Denver Nugget J.R. Smith.
photos by Anthony Camera
Stacy Mariney (above) learned the custom-car business from Vett Capone, whose clients include Denver Nugget J.R. Smith.

"My customers are a different kind of celebrity," he tells Capone with an accent, mentioning that he needs to turn the vehicles into "presidential editions," which will be sent to one of the hottest places on earth. He wants an extra air conditioner and a refrigerator, too, but worries about having to charge extra batteries.

"No problem," Capone says. "We can put on a bigger alternator, too."

"My friend, if you do this car, my client will fly you to Libya. You will be very well taken care of, like a famous person. You will be put up in five-star hotels if you do good work," the man — a Libyan, apparently — tells him.

"All of my work is good. All of my work is magazine quality," Capone says. "How about six-star hotels?"

The Libyan also wants a phone line, a fax line and laptop computers with Internet connection. Most important, the vehicles have to be bulletproof: They're for Colonel Moammar al-Ghadafi and his sons, the Libyan finally acknowledges — but Capone has no idea who they are. He catches on fast, though, and as he talks about what he'll do with the cars, he floats the idea of taking the business global with a new partner.

Capone Carmelo Ghadafi Kustomz has a nice ring.

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