We’re all the same yet our stories are so different. Anyone this dedicated, this passionate, willing to spend countless hours wrenching and thousands of hard earned dollars in order to make that childhood fantasy come alive can relate, on some level, to one another. Joe Lapadula is no different. Having been brought up in a family that owned an auto body shop in Queens, cars were always seen as an expression, not simply a device that transports people from point A to point B. While the set of keys in our hands often vary, the enthusiast inside our souls couldn’t be more identical. The dedication Joe has shown in the scene we call our own is simply spectacular to witness and the threshold of what’s possible continues to get moved further and further outward thanks to his vision and brute Italian muscle. Visiting his facility, Martino Auto Concepts, I’m consistently surprised with their projects and the fact that they don’t simply replicate what others have done but instead take ones dream and hand craft it into an almost surreal existence. With show stoppers such as the Active Autowerke M3’s rolling out on the daily one thing is certain, complacency just doesn’t exist. What’s their next big project you ask? Joe’s newly acquired Lamborghini Murcielago.
Back in the day, while many of us were still yet to be conceive, Joe was whipping around a 68’ Camaro, one of the baddest cars on the street and a piece of American muscle that’s still not only highly valued but considered a timeless work of art as well. However, as life moved on and financial success grew, so did Joe’s car collection. Simply inheriting the family business his father started in Queens, after moving to the U.S. from Italy, and making an average living isn’t something we dream of.. Not for me at least and as time would prove it wasn’t for Joe either(Not that his father is doing bad himself considering the new Maserati he just purchased). He bought Martino Auto Concepts at the young age of 22 in 1991 and slowly but surely his new found business began to blossom and the ability to purchase more automotive real estate presented itself. He upgraded to a Lamborghini Diablo all the while never losing focus on the tuner cars we all hold dear to our heart. Simply buying a car for status isn’t what it’s about for us, right? Yeah. With time, the Diablo began to look dated and he decided to part ways with it. Fortunately for him, and us, one of his customers came in with his future car (even though he didn’t know it yet), the true 6-speed Murcielago you see here.
That week I had been in talks with Joe about sitting down to discuss my fast approaching career in finance and when I received a call saying we would have to bump our meeting back a day because he had to run to Connecticut to pick up his new “toy” I was understanding to say the least and when he requested that I begin plans to set up a photo shoot I knew it was something good. Well like anything else associated with this guy, it was.
When I walked down the stairs and into the lower level of the shop there she laid, in all her pearl yellow glory. I’ve been around cars of this nature for a while but seeing these things gets me every time.. So much so that I almost managed to miss Joe say “I gotta do something with this piece of crap”. Only a true enthusiast would say such a thing. So back upstairs we went and the notebooks creaked open. What to do, what to do? Before I knew it we had pages upon pages of one off ideas and it was time to narrow them down but before that we took a break to run around the corner and get this shoot done. The idea was to hardpark in front of an abandoned warehouse but thanks to our photographer, Will, plans changed. With zero f*cks to give it was time to take the Lambo off road.
We laid random, torched wood down and with one blast we were in. The simple rawness of this place couldn’t have been more perfectly ironic to shoot a $300,000 car in. With graffiti on the walls and makeshift skate ramps in mid construction, it was reminiscent of where Joe began and where he has come. After another quick wipe down from Nick, owner of Synergy Detailing, it was time to take some pictures.
Will Mayer is an incredibly talented photographer/videographer and he got to right to work setting up strobes, moving the car into position and even directing our dumb asses for the “group shot”. Our time was limited because the kids had to get picked up from karate but thankfully this thing manages to look good from every angle.
Don’t get used to it, the car isn’t going to look this way for much longer. After one last meeting this afternoon, the final decision is all but confirmed. I’m not at liberty to provide you with any details, my sincerest apologies, but needless to say it’s going to be something you have never seen done before. Having been in this community for a while I’ve been exposed to a ton of incredible machines so I can guarantee that the team we make will come out with something you’ll all be fond of. For more information please visit Martino Auto Concept’s website and make sure to continue following us! You won’t be mad you did. So long!
Website: Martino Auto Concepts
Photographer: Will Mayer
Detailing by: Synergy Detailing