Builder Bio

Builder Bio of Steve Carter

Steven Carter was born in Los Angeles California in 1958. When he was 5 years old his family moved to Northern California. He was born with a love of cars and when he was 9 he was given a Craftsman’s basic tool set. His father told him if he could make the 1952 Ford Flathead with a V8 engine run he could drive it. He did the rings and bearings and the truck did finally run. He had to sit on a phone book so he could see out the window, but he did drive that truck around in a cow pasture.

The love for cars had never stopped. At 17 he started his own detail shop to afford his first hotrod. He purchased 1966 Mustang. He was making good money and soon dropped out of school and moved back to Los Angeles. Structured education was always difficult for him because he is dyslexic. He lived in his car for awhile and got a job doing the night shift at fast food restaurant.

Tired of working odd jobs he went to a gas station/shop to try to get a job doing what he loves and what he knew best, working on cars. He bet the owner that he could swap out a motor in a day for $100.00. He did it in a day, the guy never paid the bet, but he now had a job working on cars.

After that he continued to work in different shops doing front-end work, suspension, bodywork and general mechanic services. Moving shop to shop, he learned everything he could about how a car works with the goal of making his hotrod run and handle better than a new car. Being brought up in poverty, a new car was something he thought he could never afford.

His first real hot rod was a 1963 Ford Sprint. He did all the work himself either in his Grandma’s backyard, at a friend’s house, in the parking lot where he lived, or wherever he could.

His first restoration that started his business was a 1964 T-bird Landau. He now was living in a home with a very small one-car garage. He invested in an inexpensive compressor and had very few tools. The restoration was a huge success because he sold it right away and doubled his investment.

After that he invested in a 1960 Ford Falcon 2 door station wagon. He restored the vehicle and when it was finished he attended a pool party that summer at the owner of a Business management firm. The owner took an interest in his abilities. The manager knew an investor, which commissioned Steven to do 2 complete ground-up builds on 2 1960 Ford Thunderbird convertibles with retractable tops.

They set him up in an artist’s complex with a 1200 square foot shop. He did all the work himself. When the car was completed, he went to his first car show. He took best of show at the “Go Topless Show” out of 150 rare and exotic convertibles and was on the cover of convertible magazine. He also placed third at the Bel Aire concourse in California. He then built the second one, which was Turquoise. It was just as perfect and beautiful as the first.

With the 2 beautiful restorations under his belt, he moved to a larger home with a 2-car garage in Reseda California. He started getting jobs because of his work, which were mostly on Thunderbirds. Just when business was starting to pick up, he and his wife decided to move to Nashville. Always wanting to do customs, it was time to move on.

In 1994 they moved to Nashville and bought their first home. It was very modest, but it had a HUGE garage. He had fallen in love with a 1965 Comet Caliente that he purchased in Los Angeles and dragged it along. He built it in his new garage and financed it on a credit card.

Work was scarce for an auto restorer and customizer in Nashville at the time and the couple of shops he went to told him he was over experienced. He finally landed a job at a restoration shop in Madison. There he met his first client who had a 1968 Shelby GT 350. Steven asked for a deposit to start working on the car. Before earning a dime on the build, he went and put a deposit down on a shop and bought some needed equipment and tools. It was painted black, was very, very fast, and he had another very happy customer.

He later moved his business to Mt. Juliet and began business again. After working there for a couple of years, he realized he did not need or want the everyday, walk up business.

He and his wife then decided to sell their home and buy property that was larger and had a shop. They moved to outskirts of Brentwood, TN.

Since moving to Tennessee, he has restored several award winning vehicles, has been in several magazines and has been featured in Southern Rodder Magazine, Hot Rod TV and The Mothers Car Show.

At present he is in the process of adding on to the shop and looking for the next creative endeavor. He builds one car a time all by himself because it’s all about the art, passion and the love of building beautiful and exotic machines.