Michael Vetter: Extraterrestrial Carmaker
ET would have loved to go home in one of these.
For the past 20 years, Michael Vetter, owner of The Car Factory, has been building custom futuristic concept cars from scratch. You may have seen his cars in movies and TV, or around town for companies and those individuals who want something no one else has. Today, his team consists of expert craftsman dedicated to producing extreme high-end cars and who appreciate each other’s fine workmanship.
A Passion for Sports Cars
Vetter entered the car world by accident while attending college earning a business degree in Daytona Beach, Florida. He was undecided about his future, but knew he wanted to be in charge of his own day.
He happened across a fiberglass body shell of a Lamborghini Countach at the largest car show on the East Coast called the Daytona Turkey Rod Run. He was in love with its design. When he was 12-years old in 1984, he had seen this car at the Frankfurt Auto Show in Germany and never forgot about it. He remembered finding a small black and white picture of a Lamborghini for sale in a German newspaper when he was 15-years old and showed it to his dad. He asked his dad if the price was correct, as it was in Deutsche marks and there were a lot of digits.
Vetter recalls his father’s reply, “He said, ‘yes, this car costs more than most people’s homes.’ My eyes were as big as ever but instead of my dad saying it was an impossible feat to own one, he told me I would need to work very hard to get this car. This might be my earliest motivation to work as hard as I still do today.” Both his parents labored hard with great energy and work ethic with an unending positive attitude, traits that he lives by and holds dear to this day.
Building His Dream Car
Vetter purchased the fiberglass Lamborghini shell for $2,500 not knowing how he was going to build it, but he did have a vision to take the body and put it on top of another car that was operational. Without any knowledge about kit cars or automotive work he took his body kit home and started researching what he needed to do.
He found the best donor car was a Pontiac Fiero and purchased one at a local car dealer for $1,700. Then he found out he needed to cut that car in half and stretch it by 10 inches. He had no idea how to do this, or how to weld. After sifting through kit car magazines and researching online, he finally had enough information to get to the next step.
Over the years, Vetter found that he has always been able to accomplish any task he has attempted by doing something for it every day. He spent a year and a half working on that kit car and finally the day came when it was done. Wow! Cruising around Daytona Beach in this bright red Lamborghini felt truly awesome.
He took the car back to the same car show where he had purchased the shell two years earlier. A photographer named Joe Greeves, took pictures of Vetter’s car without his knowledge and the pictures appeared in the very magazine where he had learned some of the important steps he needed in the build and fabrication process. Greeves has photographed at least 15 of Vetter’s cars over the past 20 years with many cover features in various magazines, including one car which was dubbed, The Love Machine. This title came from the story where he had sold a fiberglass car body at the Daytona Turkey Rod Run to a nice blonde girl and her dad for a father / daughter car project. This car body sale turned into his fiancée three months later.
Shannon and Vetter were married within the year and started building custom cars together. Both worked very well as a team and he could not have asked for a better partner. The two of them built almost 60 cars for the next eight years. Originally, the couple decided their lifestyle was too busy to raise a child. However, by this time they had sold their first house, built their dream home, assembled their dream shop, and just thought out loud about how fun it would be to have a child. As with everything they did, they planned to have a child exactly the way they wanted. They were blessed with a beautiful baby girl named Malia.
Impetus for Change
Up until this time they had been building two-seater sports cars, like Lamborghini and Ferrari replicas, Porsche, and some other small sports cars. One of his first real shockers in life that left him wondering what he was going to do happened just before Malia was born. He received a cease and desist letter from Ferrari as they were against him building replicas of their cars. After speaking with an attorney, he realized Ferrari replica cars were no longer going to be on his plate. He has an excellent eye for detail and his replicas are top quality. His cars are among the best, but he had no idea what to do next.
This was the incubation period of the Extra Terrestrial Vehicle or ETV. Vetter created an ETV because he had a passion for exotic and unique cars, and even more so, futuristic cars. He built the first ETV car with back seats, so he could place Malia there in her car seat. “Shannon and I do not drink or go out partying. Basically cars are our passion. We needed a car we could enjoy as a family. The ETV was perfect for this,” says Vetter.
They built the ETV as a replacement for their fun Ferrari replica and it opened new doors unexpectedly, including catching the eye of a TV producer who filmed a TV show in their shop and plastered their work on the Speed TV channel which opened more doors for them. They have learned through continued hard work and a positive attitude, there is no end to new doors opening with new opportunities.
Craftmanship is Key
One core value that Vetter holds onto is to build every car as if he were going to keep it for himself. Part of this is because he wishes he could keep every one of the cars for himself. But another part of it is, as long as he would treasure the car for himself, he knew that it would be easy to convey his appreciation for the vehicle to the owner. “These unique cars draw positive emotion and appreciation from just about every one of our customers. This emotion reverberates back to us and together new design is born,” he says.
There has never been an investor pouring money into Vetter’s business. All of this was earned by him and his team through hard work. When he gets a customer, who can afford over-the-top ideas, it helps expand his palette for design and technology features; something he could not normally afford in a spec vehicle which he would build for himself. He proudly says, “I enjoy a symbiotic relationship with these VIP clients, and I go over and beyond to make sure their car is more unique than the previous one we built.”
Learn more about Vetter and his eye-popping futuristic vehicles by visiting MTVconcepts.com.