Fri | Jan 15, 2021

Sean’s passion for the uncommon

Published:Sunday | September 15, 2019 | 12:00 AMVanessa James -
Sean McDonald's 2005 Toyota Tacoma X-Runner
Sean McDonald's 2005 Toyota Tacoma X-Runner
Sean McDonald

Often enough, the complaint about businesses providing sub-par customer service is heard and it was no different for Sean McDonald when he brought his 2005 Toyota Tacoma X-Runner, to a garage to be painted.

McDonald explained that he was told that the vehicle would be ready in two months, but that after almost six months of going back and forth at the garage, he was not pleased with the level of work that was done on his van. As a result, he took on the task of learning the trade of automotive refinishing and reconstruction, and restored the Tacoma with the help of a friend.

“I’ve always had a passion for automotive refinishing and reconstruction, but I could never locate a program locally where I could be trained. So between the back and forth at the garage, where I had brought my vehicle, I was introduced to an instructor at Caribbean Maritime University (CMU),” McDonald recalled. “We got to talking, and I asked how it would be possible to enrol in the class, and he said, “You know that you are in luck, because we are about to start and we have one more space.’ So I took the opportunity and enrolled.”

According to McDonald, the short course at CMU covered all the basics and fundamentals of automotive refinishing that were needed.

“Within my class, there were more seasoned people in the automotive refinishing field; there were body men, painters and welders. I was the only odd one out, because I deal with none of that; but I do electronics,” he said. “So I have the ability to pull it (the van) up and put it back together. It’s the bodywork and paint aspect that I had zero clues about.”

McDonald got together with a classmate, who went to the garage and took a look at the van and then proceeded to say that the job was not supposed to go beyond two months. So the pair got to working on the Tacoma.

“We started working on it December 29, and I kid you not, it was painted on the 30th of January,” McDonald exclaimed.

He told Automotives, that the process before painting the van was to take off all the skirts, fender flares, the plastic pieces on the exterior, the bumpers and the lights; everything from the interior came out also, except the glass, the carpeting and the dashboard.

Once all the work was done, the van looked brand new with some enhanced features.

“It’s pretty much brand new from the ground up; all new lights, and a new cover, and the things that are not new, are refinished. For example, the exterior plastics were repainted,” McDonald disclosed.

“As for the interior, nothing has been changed except the radio, gear lever boot and the gear knob.”

He continued by explaining that the centre console was also refurbished and the rearview mirror was replaced with one that could double as a reverse camera monitor. He also used a carbon fibre finish on the door handle recesses and other places hands and nails would touch, in order to prevent scratching.

McDonald shared that he loves the unique cars and that is why he also owns a 1991 BMW 318IS.

“It is a rare enough vehicle, because it is one of the E-30 series, highly desirable because it was technologically advanced beyond its years; it has features that were just becoming common place in the 2000’s,” he explained.

It was on a similar basis why he bought the Tacoma.

“The 2005 Toyota Tacoma X-Runner, is also a limited edition; Toyota doesn’t make a lot of them and they are very hard to acquire. When you do see them, nobody is selling,” he said. “They only come with manual transmition; 6-speed, and 4 litre V6. It’s a combination of utility and speed. It does 13 seconds on the quarter mile,” he boasted.

As a lover of uncommon vehicles, McDonald is proud to have added automotive refurbishing to his long list of skills. He is currently the operator of Xtreme AutoSound and Electronics, a garage that specialises in car security and custom audio installation among other things.

According to McDonald, “I don’t really like common vehicles; they don’t have any personality. Even if I should get a ‘common’ vehicle, I am going to make sure it stands out.”