Frankfort business excels at upgrading car electronics
BY NICK SWEDBERG Correspondent July 14, 2014 6:42PM
Anthony Shockwave runs Shockwave Customs in Frankfort, which specializes in aftermarket audio and electronic systems for vehicles. | Nick Swedberg/For Sun-Times Media
Updated: July 15, 2014 2:08AM
Customizing vehicles isn’t just what Anthony Shockwave does for a living, it’s a part of his identity.
Born Anthony Albano, he legally changed his last name to Shockwave and has used it for the last 17 years for Shockwave Customs, his Frankfort business that specializes in outfitting cars with aftermarket high-end audio equipment and other electronics.
The 35-year-old Frankfort resident has spent most of his life improving cars and turned it into a thriving business, winning hundreds of show car awards and even developing his own line of amplifiers, subwoofers and speakers. The business has been on Mobile Electronics Industry magazine’s list of the Top 100 installers in the country every year since 2007.
The work Shockwave Customs does is deceptively simple.
“We turn a normal car into a show car,” Shockwave said.
But what they can do to a car to make it show-ready is elaborate.
One customer who bought a 2001 Porsche Boxster for $26,000 asked his shop to make about $60,000 in improvements, Shockwave said. After all the work is done, the improved Porsche will be effectively turned into the GT2 version of the car, which is valued at about $300,000.
While Shockwave’s shop focuses on the electronics, they often will work with other businesses to install other upgrades, such as new custom interiors.
Much of their business, however, comes from people who own regular street cars who want to add a little something extra, whether it be running lights, massive speakers or even a 55-inch flatscreen television. Shockwave’s shop has done all of that and more.
Unlike the chrome and steel hot rods of the 1950s and ’60s, the cars Shockwave Customs turns out for shows look more like those found in modern racing movies, such the “Fast and Furious” series, and console car racing games.
One of Shockwave’s cars, a 2005 BMW M3, appeared on the cover of the PlayStation2 version of the 2006 Need for Speed Most Wanted game.
The BMW, which Shockwave owns, now serves as his family car.
“I have kids now so I put TVs in all the head rests,” he said.
A picture of the car that started it all for Shockwave, a 1993 Pontiac Thunderbird, hangs in one hallway along with photos of other winning cars that have come from his shop.
Trophies line the walls inside the front room at Shockwave Customs, 9565 W. Lincoln Highway. In one corner, the awards from multiple car shows form what looks almost like a shrine around a picture of the BMW.
Chad Karkoska, who does much of the marketing for Shockwave Customs, said they can upgrade any car in whatever way the customer wants.
“It’s basically ‘Pimp My Ride,’” Karkoska said, referring to the MTV-produced show about restoring and customizing rundown cars.
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