The USA Leader 1, a creation of mechanic and Bushwick native Orlando Figueroa, 54, is a souped-up Chevrolet C30 pickup that is unrecognizable from its source material, boasting hydraulic doors, hood and rear hatch; a two-alternator system under the hood; four cameras to reduce blindspots and about 700 LED lights that blink and dance.
It's a car that definitely turns heads.
"Some people will cut me off, and climb on the sidewalk in their cars and take pictures," Figueroa said.
Now the mechanic has taken to eBay to sell his car, having posted an auction in July to pay for a newer, more ambitious project, as Gothamist originally reported. That auction failed to meet the $250,000 reserve price, and Figueroa plans to contintue to work on the car and re-submit to the auction site.
Figueroa, who has owned Fig's Auto Repair, at 1 Lewis Ave., for 15 years, parlayed his love for thinking up complex machines into a career as a mechanic. He originally started imagining designs for cars at the age of 10, when his uncle would allow him to tinker with some of his old cars.
Having dropped out of school after fifth grade, Figueroa is completely self-taught, learning through the years how to design his creations, weld together a body, do the electrical work, paint — all through trial and error, the mechanic said.
"To build a car you need like eight separate people in different trades," Figueroa said. "I had to learn everything."
Figueroa's car also came with an 8-foot robot that he designed, made mostly out of a model airplane remote control and receiver that he finagled onto a wheelchair, with a "robot" casing placed over it.
"I just see things in my brain, I draw them and I make them," Figueroa said.
For his current project, technically completed in 2000 but a "work in progress" for the last 13 years, according to the mechanic, Figueroa has created a more patriotic design that looks more like a Transformer than just a car.
Instead of an add-on robot, Figueroa's car comes with a free patriotic superhero costume he also designed.
It's a step forward in his work, the shop owner declared.
"This one's more perfect," Figueroa said. "I'm perfecting it everyday."
In addition to the cameras and LED lighting, Figueroa has introduced another piece of technology: a tablet in the front seat controls a rear television screen made for advertising, something he said could work for marketers or businesses.
But he also acknowledged that the ambitious design might be too overwhelming for some people.
"A lot of people don't want to drive in a beast," Figueroa said. "This is a beast."