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Under the Hood: Peter Makar

June 25th, 2010 by Ian

Pictured: Detroit native, former skate rat and pro fabricator Peter Makar, making moves on his home grown cafe racer.

We stumbled into Auto Design NYC on a late Thursday evening a few weeks back. All the usual suspects typically line the street outside of this hi end auto shop in Chelsea; 911’s, DB9’s SL’s etc. Yet on this particular evening, something a little different caught our eyes. It wasn’t a shiny new supercar or even a perfectly restored classic. It was more like a a dirtbike that spoke to us in Italian. And the man behind this beautiful work in progress was happy to greet us at the door. Peter Makar is the passionate owner and talented artisan doing what he does best…fabricating cool shit from scratch during the wee hours of the night. Pete was good enough to invite us in to talk some shop and put away a few bottles of Hoegaarden. Sounds like a good time huh?

What’s your occupation?

I’m a fabricator. I always have been. When I was a little kid I was always taking things apart and then putting them back together. It really started with BMX bikes. I would take a bunch apart then rebuild one bike with the best parts.

How would you describe your personal style?

Less is more.

What kind of kicks do you rock on the bike?

Vans SK8 Hi all day.

Do you have any specialties?

I’ve really done it all. I started out doing custom audio installations, but I spent years in Detroit just doing Lambo-style doors and stash boxes. I also worked for a custom limo shop out in Cali for a while. We stretched a lot of Chrysler 300’s and stuff like that, but we had our share of Jags and BMW’s to stretch.

Are you a native New Yorker?

No, I’m from Detroit metro.

So that explains your passion for cars?

Yea growing up around Detroit definitely fueled my interest in cars. It’s hard to believe how much horsepower is in that city. Every third house has a hot rod or a racecar, and either your family member or friend definitely works for one of the big 3.

Is there a bike out there that inspires you?

Yeah, I’m a fan of Wrenchmonkees work. But I want my bike to be more dangerous. You should be really scared to ride this bike when it’s done.

Where did you get your training?

Self taught for the most part. I learned a bunch of basics from my dad, but it’s been mostly about just experimenting by taking things apart. I used to race snowmobiles, so I spent a lot of time wrenching away at them. I totally destroyed my first car, just to put it back together. It was a ’93 Grand Cherokee with the body dropped 7 inches. It was a work in progress and I never finished it.

How about this shop..what do you specialize in here?

Well, there’s really three things we specialize in. High end stealth car audio, upholstery, and integrated radars. This 911 Turbo right here belongs to a very famous fashion designer, and I’m installing an integrated radar for him. And no, I can’t tell you who’s car it is, we sign confidentiality agreements.

Let’s talk about the project bike that you’re working on here.  It looks like you’re going for a café racer look?

It’s a ’72 Honda CL 450 that I bought as a café. I’m basically stripping it down and making it as light as possible. I want it to be mean and dirty…no chrome, no shiny paint..just mean and fast. I want it to look like it was owned by a racer in the 60’s who threw it behind his shed and forgot about it, and it got all sun beat and weathered.

Is it going to meet regulations?

It almost meets the DOT requirements. I intentionally bought a pre ’85, because you don’t need turn signals and you only need one mirror.

How long have you been working on it?  Is it a nights and weekends project?

Exactly, I get in a few nights a week, and maybe a Sunday. I plan to be done in August, but there’s no rush. It’s enjoyable for me, I always need a side project. After this it will be something else.

Cars or bikes, what do you like better?

Growing up it was cars, but now I would have to say bikes.  They’re a lot more fun, and a lot less expensive to mess with.

What’s your dream car?

I’d love to build a gritty Nova with the heart of a hotrod and the suspension of an autocross car.  I also love a Datsun 510.

What about new stuff?

If I was buying a new bike it would be the Ducati Desmosedici….damn that thing is badass. For a car, if I could, I’d get an Audi RS6.

When you’re not working here, what do you like to do?

Skateboard, ski, drink beer and hang out with my friends.  And a lot of time is spent just trying not to get bitched out by my girlfriend…

What kind of stuff other than automobiles inspire your work?

Everything inspires as long as you keep an open mind.  It can be a rusty piece of steel on a bridge, or the stitching on a leather jacket.  A lot of my ideas for this bike come from all kinds of industrial design.


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