Local man builds trucks for rich, famous

Trucks used in 'The Fate of the Furious'

By Matt Austin - Anchor

It's noisy, won't pass emission tests, and air conditioning is not standard but people around the world can't get enough of one particular truck.

They're paying small fortunes to buy one and one local man is the guy they call when they want their fix.

You've probably seen his latest work in a blockbuster movie.

Learn more: Safari Heritage Parts

If you watch "The Fate of the Furious," you can almost hear the Stephen Peters' heartbreak during a big scene.

"If you look at every 'Fast and the Furious' movie, they blow up at least one Defender," said Peters.

"Does that kill you?" asked News 6 anchor Matt Austin.

"It breaks my heart," said Peters.

Inside the Orlando shop, Peters and his team at Safari Heritage Parts built three Land Rover Defenders for the movie.

"And they were blown up... all three of them?" asked Austin.

"All three of them," said Peters.

"How much work did you put into them?" asked Austin.

"A lot," said Peters.

This shop is filled with celebrity trucks. On this random day, we found one belonging to a hall of fame baseball player, another to a rap producer and even a WWE superstar. The base price for one is $125,000.

"They're always a challenge to fix," said Stephan Konaiek.

Enthusiasts like Konaiek said these trucks are like a drug.

"My wife complains that I love these vehicles and spend more money on these vehicles than her," said Konaiek.

"What does she drive?" asked Austin.

"A Prius. That's how I save money with the gas," said Konaiek.

This all started 15 years ago, in Peters' garage. He rebuilt an old Defender from scratch, and then he accidentally sold it.

"So I'm driving through Winter Park one day and a gentleman pulls me over and says, 'I'm buying your truck,'" said Peters. "So I followed him to the bank, and he started counting out hundreds until I said 'That's enough.'"

"This thing looks like fun," said Austin, while getting into a Defender for a test drive. "Where are my airbags?"

"Yeah, no Defender has ever been fitted with airbags," said Peters.

He sold four trucks just driving around. You see, you can't buy a new Defender. Land Rover no longer makes them. So Peters and his eight-member team fix them up with or without the windshield.

"First thing I'm doing is taking the windshield off my car," said Austin.

"Everywhere you go somebody wants to talk about how cool it is," said Peters. "My wife and I joke my midlife crisis will be a Honda Accord."

Again, the base price is $125,000. So how much is one with all the bells and whistles?

Top of the line Defenders, with a Corvette engine, will set you back about a quarter of a million dollars.

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