Cars have always been a family thing for me. My dad owned a small chain of brake and muffler shops in Quebec. I grew up literally under cars.
I always had a passion for cars. When new cars came out each year my family and I would make a pilgrimage to every new car dealership in the area to learn about all the new models. I’ve lived, breathed, worked on and talked about cars all my life.
At 10 years old my two older brothers would buy, work on and sell cars.
Around 1978, at 15, I restored my first car by myself as a way to get from my new family farm to school. My brother gave me a 1970 Buick Skylark Turquoise (which in those days was NOT cool!). The car was rusted and ugly. I’m an artist and always had way of seeing what something could be. I started patching up the car. There was a guy with a shop where you could do the body work yourself. So I do the bodywork and this guy does the painting. I had to redo the bodywork 3 times. The owner took me under his wing and I spent 2 ½ months that summer learning how to handle rust, welding, bodywork and materials. So by the end of the summer my car was done right – a beautiful, 2 tone sports stripe, blacked out windows, Mag wheels, ass in the air like a hotrod. That was the birth of Andre the Car Kid. I then started doing body work on cars for everyone I knew.
A year later I sold my Skylark and got a 72 Chevy Impala Convertible which I completely restored. That car became my second showpiece and my reputation as a auto body work whiz was established.
Flash to 1986. I find myself in Los Angeles as a performing artist. I find a body shop in North Hollywood. A do it yourself shop where if you do all the work you can have your car painted for $100. So it’s my teenage years all over again… I buy myself a 1974 Plymouth Scamp at a police auction for $250. Painted it black and it looked like a hotrod. I had a roommate who had a 1981 Toyota Celica GT that was completely oxidized from the sun. So I tell her “I can fix that.” So I did the body work and got it painted and I customized it a bit, “Dre-dition.” From that restoration I got seven referrals in a row and the frenzy started again…
Over the next few years I went from doing auto body work on the side to opening a one-bay shop. Everything that came in was referral. By the time I decided to focus on the auto body work I had a full blown business. Over the course of the next 9 years that shop went from 1 bay to taking over the property and having a full service body shop. I’ve since re-located to my current full service shop (AP Body Shop in North Hollywood) which I’ve owned since 2003.
People describe me as an artist who likes to have fun. I am fully independent. I operate with integrity and feel that it’s my duty to get the fairest deal for my customers. I love putting my twist on older and custom cars. My role model is Chip Foose.