Big pimpin’

Doug Mini

Photo By Marisol Salgado

Pimp Your Ride is not your conventional auto shop, and the owner, 50-year-old Doug Mini, likes it that way. Mini’s shirt from his racing days—he drove for the Blatz team in Wisconsin—hangs next to rusty horseshoes and pictures of racecars and Dale Earnhardt. After spending 13 years in the military, as an aviation hydraulic technician, Mini can fix just about anything. He tackles everything from oil changes to engine replacements, paint jobs, interior work, hydraulics and detail jobs. “I’ll work on anything that has nuts, bolts or a motor,” he said. “That’s why people call me MiniGyver.”

What made you want to own your own service and detail auto shop?

Working at other shops, I’ve watched too many people get burned, so I decided to go into business for myself to do honest work. I understand people might not have enough money to get their car fixed but they need their cars to get to work. So, I try to work out a payment system. Sometimes it’s hard to keep the doors open, but I treat people like I want to be treated. Sometimes I feel like a guy out of Mayberry because I like the small-town attitude. It’s the little things that matter.

What are you working on right now?

One of the cars I’m working on is an old ‘49 Chevy truck. Its owner wants a fancy motor put in, so I’ll change the motor to a V8 automatic. I’m also going to work on the interior and paint it. There’s not much that I don’t do.

How many hot rods have you worked on over the years?

Over 100 rods. In the four years I’ve had this shop, I’ve finished nine. But rods are only a small portion of what I do; 60 percent of work done in this shop is small work.

How many people work at the shop?

Just me. It’s hard to get people to care about the work they do. I want the customers to be happy with the job I do for them. I’ll stay late to work on a car if I have to get it done. I like walking away from a project feeling proud of my work. I know I’ll never get rich, but as long as I give fair deals, that’s enough for me to be satisfied.

Why the name Pimp Your Ride?

Well, I got the idea from the MTV show. It’s a catchy title and people laugh when they hear it—but they remember it. For me, “pimp” means to get your car tricked out. Basically, I can do anything to a car, boat, snowmobile, you name it. If you want your lawnmower to do wheelies, bring it to me.