Story Evan “Evo” Yates Photography Michael Blackwell
With the exception of Mr. Sean Carter, you’d be hard-pressed to identify a contemporary hip-hop artist who isn’t a direct beneficiary of the Grammy Award–winning Tallahassee Hero. T-Pain’s euphonic dexterity and staggering influence on the music world have been well docu- mented, but his vehicular interests have yet to be legitimately explored. With a stable of 34 total cars—including one befitting of sheiks and oil tycoons—T-Pain has clearly been successful on both stages. An extension of his animated yet humble character, his rides vary from candy old-schools to those worthy of spilling Grey Poupon in. Branching out into cartoons, commercials and even iPhone apps, Teddy Penderazdoun has expanded his repertoire, becoming a custom-car-shop owner as well. In purchasing the elite custom automotive shop Auto Extremes, located in the Atlanta area, the 25-year-old enterprising entrepreneur has one more canvas on which to bestow his creativity.
How many cars do you currently own? Thirty-four.
Damn. Do you have a favorite out of the bunch? Or is that even possible? Well, now it’s the Bugatti [laughs]. And I guess the Phantom and the Scion are my other favorites.
The Scion? Really? Yeah, man, the Scion is so customizable. Any way you want it, it’s just easy to do. I drive it a whole lot.
Is that paid endorsement? Don’t answer that. But why so many cars? Most people stop at some point. It’s more impulse buying than anything. I never planned on having 34 cars. Even when I was back in Tallahassee, I would say I was gonna have one car, and it was gonna be the best thing you’ve ever seen. That went out the window when they started making other cars I liked, and I had the money to buy them.
What was that one car? Any old-school, any ’70s Chevy. My favorite was actually a ’77, which is weird, I know—normally it’s a ’71 to ’76. But my brother had a ’77, which is probably why I like those so much. We’re real big on box Chevys in Tallahassee. I have an ’88 at the house. I actually just bought it from a guy in Virginia, at the club. I saw the owner and told him he wasn’t leaving the club with that car, that he better find a ride be- cause I’m buyin’ it! I only bought it for nine grand! [Laughs] I got it for a really good deal, actually. It has rims, four 12s, full ostrich interior, everything.
How did owning a shop come about? It happened when I bought my first ’72 Impala. I was going next door to get a system put in, and they were treating me like an asshole. I told them what I wanted, and they kept telling me what I should do, and I said, “I don’t want that! I want what I want.” They told me I needed to get somebody else to do it, so I said, “Okay, I’m going next door.” That’s when I met Rob, and it was all over from there.
What’s your actual involvement in the shop? I come in and give them my two cents—not really on how to do it, but creatively. I let them know what’s hot in the streets. When they’re in the shop all the time, they don’t get to hear that much. I just bring that perspective in to the shop.
You ever get your hands dirty? I’ve turned a wrench or two, got a little greasy, glued up a couple door panels, stuff like that. I used to work on my own car, because I never had a really good working car in Tallahassee, so I learned a lot from just fixing my own ride back in the day.
So you’re actually into cars then. You’re a car guy. Most definitely. I hate that, I hate when folks get cars just because other people say they like it, but then they’re not really into it.
So why’d you cop the Bugatti? That seems to be what everybody is talking about now, right? I didn’t even get this car for that— I got it for the luxury. Everybody keeps asking me why I got this car, and I keep tellin’ ’em that I ride in the inside; I don’t care about the outside, I don’t ride out there. People think you get a Bugatti just to say you have it, but I really didn’t.
So you didn’t get it for the speed? I find that hard to believe. How fast have you gone in it? Actually, not that fast—I’ve only done 82 mph.
I don’t believe you. No, really. It’s so scary to go fast in this car, for one; and two, there’s nowhere to drive fast, because even if you go 75 in a 65, you’re the first to get pulled over. A black-and-red Bugatti with a black guy in it? [Laughs] I got my Lambo up to 170, but this is a different kind of speed, and I don’t wanna wreck it. Plus, if you go too fast, nobody will be able to see it!
How much did it set you back? Two million; so was that Phantom. That was the first Phantom [Drophead] in North America— build number one.
What else can you possibly buy after that Bugatti? This is it—like, what else can I get? I drive this car all the time; it’s not a toy. The only thing you can get after one of these is another. It’s the only one in Atlanta—I checked. I tried to buy one here, and I couldn’t. I had to buy the car from Fort Lauderdale, and they had to buy it from California. I couldn’t get it serviced here if I wanted to.
Switching gears, I might as well ask you officially: Why don’t you do three-piece wheels? That’s the only critique anyone ever has of your rides. I drive my cars, and when you drive them all the time, and you bend a rim, you gotta spend more money and more time getting it fixed. I’d rather get something sturdy, something that’s gonna stay together for as long as I want and just ride. Three-piece wheels look fantastic, but for the most part, people who don’t know about cars have no idea what a three-piece wheel is. They see it’s big and chrome—that’s all they know. What are two more pieces on my rims gonna add to my $2 million car?
I don’t think you can even do three-piece wheels on a Bugatti, but I get your point. What are your goals for Auto Extremes? I hope we can get as big as Unique Autosports and West Coast Customs, and all the other shops that are get- ting recognition. My purpose is to help out other people. We are doing a lot of my celebrity friends’ cars, like Ciara’s, Bow Wow’s and Keri Hilson’s. I just want to continue to grow, and to provide jobs and a one-stop custom shop everyone can take their cars to.
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