Kevlar Jeeps take the spotlight at Dallas exotic car dealership
October 24, 2014
Upon entering the Starwood Motors showroom, one is instantly greeted with the sight of Lamborghinis, Ferraris and other various exotics. Enter their main warehouse and you’ll see rows and rows of performance cars and high-end, luxury vehicles. However, on the other side of the warehouse, you’ll find their true claim to fame: the Starwood Jeeps.
“It kind of began with the consignment: one person brought in a jeep that they had built up; it was lifted, bumpers, winches it had wheels and tires and it was really done up nicely,” Starwood Motors sales manager Scott Wilde said. “We didn’t know the market at the time, decided we would sell it for him, put it online and there was literally so much draw for it, so much request for it.”
Wilde said that many people will buy a Jeep and customize it as they go along. However, they discovered that there is a great demand for Jeeps that have already been completed and have been fully built out. Starwood sells about 35 Jeeps a month and about 55 percent of the vehicles that Starwood sells are shipped out-of-state.
As they’ve been working to meet that demand, Starwood now strives to do everything from leather to audio in-house, so that they can make sure quality is maintained all-around. The company does their own in-house training and continues to seek out and add skilled, well-known, industry-experienced technicians and fabricators to their team as they continue to grow.
They’ve become known for their Kevlar finished Jeeps, currently turning out about 14 or 15 full Kevlars a week. Starwood has also purchased a third building to add to their campus so that they can further increase production.
“The Jeeps, along with all of the Ferraris and the Maseratis and Lamborghinis — which I always thought were the most fun — I’ve completely changed my point of view on that in the past three years,” Wilde said. “The Jeeps have totally blown away anything I’ve ever done in the car business.”
The average Starwood Motors build, if there is such a thing, takes about three to four weeks and sells for around $55,000 to $60,000. This would include full kevlar, a lift system, wheels tires, bumpers, winches, lights, an audio system and often leather as well. They can also do engine swaps, bored and stroked hemis, supercharger installs, custom exhausts, transmission work, new axles and more. Starwood has also partnered up with Alpine Audio is currently putting 8” and 9” screens in their Jeep builds.
Billy Cannon, shop foreman at Starwood Motors, said they can now hardly keep the Jeeps in stock. He also stresses that the Jeeps, although more refined and luxurious, are still designed and built for the trail.
Starwood starts out with brand-new Jeeps, disassembling them and sanding them down so they will be ready for the Kevlar treatment. In addition to a one-color job, they can also add decals and stripes in layers, which will be embedded in the Kevlar. Scott said one thing they’ve always tried to do is make the Kevlar “basically impervious to anything.”
Since applying Kevlar is such a particular process, Starwoods works to make sure each paint job begins with a perfect properly-prepared “canvas” (since the product they use is not heat-based) and that the Kevlar is sprayed so it is even across the entire surface. Due to their attention to detail, Starwood has the confidence to put a lifetime warranty on the entire paint job. They also have a five year, 60,000 mile warranty on their Jeeps as a whole.
“Basically, the point is, we always shoot for perfection,” Scott said.
If they aren’t able to get the vehicle just right, it won’t even be put out for sale.
“We’ll start all over with it until we get what we want with it,” Cannon said. “We really stand behind our name — our name is our biggest thing.
Since so many Jeeps are purchased from customers who don’t live in Texas, Starwood works to set them up depending on the region that they will be shipped to. Starwood is driven by customer satisfaction; they keep careful track of feedback and use that to shape, evolve and develop their suspension systems and vehicles as a whole. Scott explained it is crucial to Starwood that they maintain a strong and open relationship with their clients.
“You live and you die by your reputation.”
The shop also takes customer requests for Kevlar treatment, receiving many different types of vehicles (and non-vehicles, such as mobile bar units used by Red Bull) from all over the US. The cars are prepared the same way as the Jeeps: surfaces are sanded down, bumpers are removed, along with the inside door panels, and more. For this reason, Scott has advised against some Kevlar requests, such as a Bentley.
“Coming from that side of the business, we caution people: we’ll spray your Bentley if you’d like to, I’ll just always tell them, I understand the Bentley market very, very well. I will spray your Bentley for you if you absolutely want me to, but I cannot tell you how it is ever going to affect the resale value of your car because it’s basically yours from here forward,” Wilde said. “I can’t get it off, or if I can get it off, I’m going to spend a lot of man hours doing it. You basically almost have to chisel the product off.”
Starwood stands behind their name and stresses that they can build anything as crazy as you want to make it. One client's recent custom Jeep project included gun cases, Ferrari 458 leather, monitors, 360 degree night vision, infrared blasters and more.
“It’s cool when you can put a product like this together and you can totally blow someone away,” Wilde said. “You can make all of their, ‘hey can you do this, hey can you do this’ come to life, and it’s just a completely unique build.”