Maverick Kellee Marsalis (Born January 1, 1971) is an American Porsche (928 & 944) tuning specialist and Muscle car shop owner, automotive designer, photographer, fabricator, as well as writer, producer and filmmaker.
Maverick has become one of the most celebrated and influential custom car designers and tuners in the industry. Maverick’s first step in the realm of business was cemented in the world of production – literally. He worked for free in several film production studios in order to attain vital experience of the motion picture industry and production. The hours were long and tiring, but the experience is one he refuses to dismiss as being anything less than life changing.
In 1996, Maverick designs the completely new, innovative and wildly famous “Yellow Fever” a 1970 Dodge Challenger RT-SE– one of the first Pro Touring American Muscle Cars which truly revolutionized the automotive custom tuning market.
Therefore, it wasn’t long before Maverick began to cause a stir in the national automotive tuning industry. He was one of the first tuner to design an interior using the finest leathers and suedes that were 100% hand stitched and cut from scratch. It’s strange that now this particular style has become one of the most replicated in the world. From the UK to the Middle East, from Russia to Malibu, California and from the road to the cinema screen, chances are that if you’ve spotted a beautiful, high – flying custom design, it will have stemmed from ASAP’s Design influence.
Before long, Maverick had expanded his business from custom interiors to designing car accessories, exhausts and body kits.
In 2001 he set up 928-Ball LLC, now one of the most prestigious Porsche vehicle specialists in California. But keen to move away from dealing with standard manufactured vehicles, Maverick decided to go one step further and bring his own touch to custom made automobiles: thus Project ASAP was born.
Now one of the most successful automotive tuning design houses in California and with franchises in Texas and Florida – Maverick is adamant that his company ethos remains unchanged.
Maverick grew up in a small town called Tulia, Texas. His family was the only family of color in the whole town; talking about a total of about 700 people. It was a positive experience growing up in north Texas. Maverick's father was a Colonel in the Marine Corps, an aviator and one of the first blacks to fly in the country as a pilot with the legendary Tuskegee Airmen. Maverick's mother was Native American, a classically trained pianist, she taught piano to the social elite in the town. She was a stern task master, a beautiful Zia Indian, so they were a bit of an oddity in this North Texas town.
Maverick lived there until he was 16, and then family moved to Atlanta, which was a bit of a culture shock. Here he was in the city of Atlanta, having grown up on a working ranch doing 4-H, riding fence lines, (participating in) North Texas Rodeo, not a city life at all. The good thing about being from a small town is that it teaches you that your word is all you have. If you say you’re going to do something, you had better do it. Your reputation is all you have, those kinds of values, and a solid work ethic is what he grew up with. Initially he thought the city kids were more sophisticated than him, but he quickly realized that he was seven steps ahead of them in reality; they hadn’t worked hard, hadn’t come from the upbringing he did as a working cowboy and bone in blood Texan.
It was great for Maverick to be in Atlanta as a young Afro Native-American, going from where he was in ranch land Texas at to a city like Atlanta where the Mayor, the Police Chief, the Fire Chief, all the prominent business people were African- American. That’s what his father wanted him to see at that pivotal age of 16. It was a tough move because he left everything behind that he knew, all his friends, his rank and security. Maverick's father being the taskmaster he was, he knew what he was doing. Maverick met lots of extraordinary people there, finished high school there, and did well athletically. The high school he went to was actually the only all-white public school in Atlanta. He literally came in and took the school over; they had never won a state championship in football before. It was himself and three other kids from Ohio who had a sibling in the NFL, they all transferred to the school at the same time and they became known as the four horse men and had one of the toughest defenses in Georgia state High School football history going 2 seasons without a single touchdown being scored on his defensive unit which Maverick was the Captain. This remarkable achievement is still a state record in Georgia.
Their entire defense went on to Division 1 schools. Maverick had a choice of several top Universities and he wanted to go to the University of Southern California where he was heavily recruited but his parents wouldn’t allow it. They knew, it was the last decision they would have on Maverick's life, so he ended up going to the University of Texas.
Once Maverick got indoctrinated into the whole Longhorn culture, he felt like he really belonged there. The community, the coaches, the professors and the people there all really embraced him as a person. Now he is “hookin’ ‘em” all day long! It’s years later now, he graduated in ’92, and everybody that knows him, knows he went to Texas. He played outside linebacker there and that environment influenced him greatly. People see the University of Texas as just a big university, but Austin is really a very small town, with an eclectic mix of students and intellectuals, plus you have politicians, lawyers, law makers, and lobbyists, because it’s the capital city of Texas, so it’s really a southern intellectual place to be. The music, the blues, the Jazz on Congress Ave.,southern style cooking. He is really grateful to that university, along with his teachers and professors his parents for giving him that work ethic. Maverick's motto: "You may not have the talent that someone else has, you may not have the intellect another person has, but you can out work a person with more talent than you, so they can’t compete with you". That idea has been a driving force in his life; being a hard worker.
Maverick got his degree in Broadcasting Communications with a Minor in Business, and moved back to Atlanta. While figuring out what his next step would be, he was lucky enough to have maintained long term part time job status as a valet for Cherokee Townclub, where he was the only person of color working in the Valet pool. This may seem strange, but in Atlanta, even to this day, there’s still a lot of separation, but because of what happened for him athletically in high school, people looked out for him. The North Atlanta alumni who were now business people, they would try to help out the high school athletes of North Atlanta High.
This was his first exposure to expensive cars, he drove his first BMW, his first Mercedes, his first Porsche working there and he had come back there every summer to work since he was 16. One of the members of the Townclub was Ted Turner, founder of CNN. This man took Maverick under his wing and looked out for him. As wealthy as this guy was, he drove a Chevrolet Caprice station wagon. So when Maverick had finished college, Ted Turner approached him and said “I know you’re gonna finish soon at UT, looks like you might have a shot at the NFL?” Maverick said, “I can’t count on that, that’s not really my focus.” He told Maverick, “Well, I got a job waitin’ for you, whenever you’re ready, just come by and see me. “ Maverick ended up receiving a free-agent contract from the Indianapolis Colts, and he enjoyed his experience, but they wanted to convert him to strong safety. Maverick made it to the last cut, but when it didn’t work out, he didn’t feel bad about it because he knew he had given it his all and had other options.
He returned to Atlanta and weighed all of them out, ultimately going to Ted Turner to take him up on his offer. He gave Maverick a job as an intern at CNN and he worked there for a year and a half. There was a position that was opening up for New Line Cinema which was Ted Turner’s independent film arm. Maverick was fascinated with film in general, so he asked the guy who was hiring if he could leave the broadcasting and come over to the film division. They were looking for guys who had gone to film school, but he got a direct shot to work strictly with Ted Turner in terms of the financing they were doing for each film project. Being around a guy like Ted Turner is really influential, to see how he conducted business, it was only a small cadre of guys that close to him, a few Ivy League cats and Maverick himself, that was it. He was not only brilliant in his thinking, but he worked hard, 12-15 hours a day he would work, that’s why people want to work so hard for him, because he doesn’t ask anything of anyone else that he’s not willing to personally do himself. Maverick was right there when The Super Station, TBS, CNN, New Line, it all blew up.
For New Line Cinema Maverick was going back and forth to LA, and meeting lots of people in the motion picture business which was inspirational, because he realized that some of them didn’t have much on him. It made him think if that guy can do it, then he can do it. Maverick began inquiring about going to film school and he applied to American Film Institute and got accepted after a two year process. He was thirsty for knowledge, he got that from the University of Texas, the whole notion of going back to school was something he didn’t really want to do, but he needed to. He had no connections, he didn’t know anybody in the film game, and he was going to have to work with what he had. Once he decided to make the quantum leap to LA and throw his hat in the film arena, he graduated from the American Film Institute.
Maverick studied at the American Film Institute and went on to make his student film Innervisions, which was the first short film in the world on the DVD platform. He took his student film to film festivals and they didn’t even have anything to play it on, he had to bring a portable DVD player with him, they thought it was a CD-ROM. He met all the players in the DVD consortium, Sony, Pioneer, Phillips, Warner Brothers, Spruce Technologies, and Apple Inc.. They had the technology but they needed somebody who was a filmmaker that could succeed with the media. Back then Hollywood didn’t want DVD. They scoffed at it; they didn’t realize it was gonna be a boom for them with a higher format, just like VHS and Betamax situation. Betamax was superior, but VHS was the format they stuck with.
Maverick took a meeting with Steven Spielberg in 1999. Spielberg hadn’t gotten involved with DVD yet. He had put together a team to study it, so here he was coming in talking to Spielberg. Maverick couldn’t sleep for three days before the meeting. He was very studious, concentrated, and asked very intelligent questions, but in the end, they did nothing. They got all the information and sat on it. It was almost another year and a half before they got into the fray. It inspired him thinking, “wow these guys are big name people and they aren’t jumping on this yet, so let him do it and make his mark.”
Maverick was always buying cars, fixing them up and flipping ‘em. After a while, he had put together some top flight clientele, Jay Leno saw cars that he did, and gave me an invite to the Big Dog garage. Leno, Gretzky, Richard Mole as well as Larry Ofria, he was the owner of Valley Head Service. He’s an old-timer; he built all the 427 Cobras for Carroll Shelby back in the day. If he don’t like you, he were not going do any business with you. He put the motors in some of Maverick's cars, like the 383 Stroker in his Chevrolet El Camino, the 440 motor in his Dodge Challenger, he also built a couple of 928 engines for Maverick.
Maverick always had a knack with doing interiors, so he did them himself. He developed a company called ASAP, Advanced Systems and Performance, in order to offset some of the costs he was incurring to put together some of these cars. He ultimately wanted the cars to be involved in some of his film projects as well. Newer models are great, but it’s much more rewarding for Maverick to take these classic cars and older cars and make them into what he wants them to be.
Maverick has over 63, Porsche 928s that he owns now, all in various stages of development, some complete, and some not. He didn’t start out intending to collect them, but as he found out more and more about the details and specs of the 928, he discovered that it was a superior vehicle in every way. They only made 52,000 of them from ‘78-‘95, with only 300 or so manufactured from ‘93-‘95. Porsche spent a lot of money developing them, so it was always a super expensive model and Maverick made a conscience choice to focus his interest on the model.
The ultimate thing for Maverick is not necessarily just to sell them, but to fix them up and get them restored, he has been one of the premier buyers and collectors of Porsche 928 in the country, if not the world. He has received accolades from Porsche and the different car clubs, but the motivation for him is really the mark of excellence and unique customizing and high end over the top restorations that ASAP and Maverick are well known for. "People can look at the cars, they may not like them, and the 928 click is filled with pundits and nay sayer's and many so called experts as well as critics if not out right haters that fill up the chat boards with bile. But they can weigh in say anything they wish and they do! But at the end of the day they would all be hard pressed to find anyone in the country who has restored, modified, customized and created more one of a kind unique Porsche 928's, 944 Turbos and 924 Turbos in the country".
He remembers graduating from college in ‘92 and a man in Austin had a 928 GTS and every time he saw it, he knew he had to have one, but it probably began when Maverick was a kid. The first one he bought was only $1200, it was in rough shape, leaking oil, but it was running. He just started detailing, and drove it that way for a year. He decided he was going to do the interior. The car became something special to Maverick and he just kept going, that was his motivation.
A few celebrities have done business with Maverick, he sold one to Pam Anderson, he was living in Malibu, coming out of a Starbucks, and she was looking at his car, she said, “That’s a beautiful car.” she asked him if it was for sale. Maverick said, “No, but I can build you one just like it.” She was on it! “Do you have a card or anything… you know what? Just take my number and call me, because I want one,” she said. Maverick was finishing up another car at the time, so he called her a couple of weeks later and told her he has a car and haven’t painted it yet. She came down to the shop, liked it, and boom! She stepped up to the plate and bought it. He has sold a 928 to Carlos Boozer, Dominique Wilkins. He wanted a 928 for years, so Maverick had one shipped to him down in Atlanta. Maverick found that the business comes to him because not too many people mess with the 928s. It’s taken him 8 or 9 years to develop the circle of artisans that he works with to create and restore them.
A friend of Maverick who’s a top Los Angeles photographer named Amanda Greene, helped to create that opportunity. He met her back in Atlanta where they had mutual friends. She was studying at Art Center College of Design where he had taken some courses. One thing led to another, and she ended up shooting an ad campaign for Louis Vuitton, they were shooting out in the desert. They were looking for some old trucks and Amanda mentioned Maverick's name to them, and that he may have some vehicles they might be interested in. So he wrangled up the vehicles for them and sent them out to the desert, while he drove out in my El Camino. A week later, Marc Jacobs called him. He said “Francois told me about everything you did for the shoot, and I wanna do something really over the top to thank you.” They sent us the raw material, and we did the entire interior with the actual Louis Vuitton-Marc Jacobs color scheme material. Every digit is in a different color matching this rainbow pattern Marc Jacobs gave Louis Vuitton. This car was featured in several ad campaigns all over Europe. They loaded up the whole trunk with Louis Vuitton luggage and they sent a huge piece that we made an actual Tonneau cover out of, all one piece. It’s really over the top, but it was fun to be a part of an ad campaign with them. From there he realized the importance of unique cars in film and ad campaigns, so he developed Hollywood Motor Cars, and made cars strictly for the movie business. Maverick put together 90% of the cars for a film called “Doubt,” all sixties vehicles. It’s another piece of business that he can make his own.
ASAP develops, designs, customizes and builds high-performance European performance cars as well as classic American Muscle cars and accessories.
Advanced Systems And Performance is a specialty design studio for Porsche 928’s, Turbo 944’s Turbo 924’s, American Muscle cars and hot rods, specializing in cars built in the 1970s through 1995. It offers restored parts on line, as well as a design studio in Munich, Germany. The headquarters is located in Malibu, California.
Originally built in 1997, it was one of the first 928 Porsche tuning shops to open in Southern California. Founder Maverick Marsalis opened the shop on Topham Street in the San Fernando Valley in the city of Reseda on January 2nd, 1999, the same day he was had sold one of his prized custom 928’s “Big Red” for $35,000 dollars. Marsalis's first idea to open the tuning shop came while watching a race on The SPEED Channel during a Christmas break from The AFI Film School where he marveled at Porsche 928 racer and 928 International shop owner Mark Anderson running circles around newer Porsche GT 3’s and Porsche Cup cars. Maverick’s shop offered only restored interior parts; no mechanical work was done. After his 2 year lease was up, Maverick moved the shop out to Malibu, California.
Few break out from the pressures of conformity to the accepted standards. To do so convention must be challenged and existence pushed to the limit. Once boundaries are expanded it is possible to believe that the world ca be changed.
Project ASAP was created to challenge convention and redefine ideals. The design studio tailors luxury custom vehicles for individuals who will not submit to a life of monotonous uniformity and will only accept perfection. This was achieved by Maverick Marsalis in creating the masterpiece that is project ASAP.
Maverick Marsalis has a passion for cars and used his 15 years of experience in the automotive industry to create the project ASAP brand in 2000. The team of designers, 3D modellers, interior trimers, graphic and sheet metal artists as well as technical engineers, spend hundred of hours developing and redefining ASAP'S concept to the point of perfection. Every product is designed to make a statement in of itself, while perfectly integrating with the vehicles existing aesthetics.
Maverick Marsalis had the vision right from the start that each project ASAP product would be a forward thinking classic showcasing European style, American design flare, individuality and custom high quality as opposed to cookie cutter similarity. Real boldness and flavor woven with old-world craftsmanship, project ASAP collection is brought to you from creative vision of one of America's leading automotive style houses.
Maverick has no interest in the bling aspect of the tuning culture. Other cats can do that all they wish. For himself as a gear head and designer, it’s all about coming up with unique ideas and shaping a master work to the next unique level.
Numerous customized cars won cars shows, flying the ASAP wings badge and the shop became synonymous with show winners and high end modified tuned street cars.
The first show winner out of the ASAP stable was Maverick's well known 1970 Dodge Challenger 440 R/T SE “Yellow Fever” muscle car. Powered by a MOPAR 440 built by Valley Head Service’s Larry Ofria who had built all of Caroll Shelby’s original 427 engines for the race prepped AC Cobras. The 70’ Challenger was featured on the cover of Mopar magazine.
That story brought a lot of attention to Maverick’s shop and it was official that ASAP was now on the map in Southern California.
Today, the Project ASAP brand is known by some of the most discerning automotive taste. His designs have attracted a very distinguished crowd with Jay Leno, Pamela Anderson, Lenny Kravitz, Jessica Simpson, Halle Berry and Brad Pitt amongst his many admirers. In 2008, he added custom instruments gauges to his output. Such is the exuberance of passion and opulent beauty - Is it any wonder Project ASAP is referred to as the Louis Vuitton of the Custom tuning design world?
Development work at ASAP is driven by the pursuit of performance, sporting prowess and unique individuality. The dynamism and sporty character of these fascinating and unique ASAP vehicles catapult them not only into the pole position and pages of the automotive media but into the rare class and style of one of a kind bespoke whips that stand a cut above the rest.
It’s a fitting ethos, for when it comes to this automotive design, one thing is clear: at the speed Maverick is moving at, it’s unlikely that even one of his custom made cars will be able to keep up with him.
The University of Texas at Austin
BS , Broadcast Communications 1989 — 1992
MBA , Business 1992 — 1995
The American Film Institute
MFA , Film History 1997 — 2000
Art Center College of Design
Automotive Design & Photography 2005 — 2006
One of the things Maverick learned from Ted Turner is that you have to find something that you can make your own. Something to where you can’t be pushed out of the game, because you dominate it. Fox, other companies have tried to come out with 24-hour news but nobody can push Ted Turner’s CNN out of the game. That’s really a mantra for business. Nobody can push Maverick out of these 928s.
Growing up in North Texas, Maverick developed special love for trains. So one of the first Christmases, Maverick came down the stairs in the morning and his father had this amazing train layout all set up and running all over the place. His father said, “Sit down, look at these trains boy!” It set up a bond that Maverick was able to have with his father. He was a tough man, when Maverick was born he was already a Colonel. It was an activity that his father and Maverick could do. They worked together. It’s crazy when you find your memories in life. His father passed away when Maverick was 19. To commemorate his father’s passion, because he always wanted to upgrade into the “O gauge,” Maverick knew one day he would have a set up like that. They are very expensive, so when he finally came into some money, and got a place big enough to build one, he knew he would do it to reconnect with his memory and that part of his life.
It’s a lot of detail in his set-up because that’s how his father always had their set-ups back then. Maverick can spend hours just running these trains to relax. He would put close to 5000 hours into the set up he owns now, at least a year and a half straight into layout. The Train Shack over here in Burbank, California, a guy there named Brian took him in and taught him a lot about expanding his layout. It’s not so much the expense of the pieces, he have an engine that’s worth over 8000 dollars but it’s the labor and the work that’s put in that really defines it. He is still in a learning curve right now with it, but it really relaxes him. It’s a different hobby he is aware of it, but the sophistication of the electronics, the details, you really have to build it, you can’t just take it out of a box and plug it in. It represents the work ethic he has acquired.
Maverick's mother had two stillbirths and three miscarriages before he came along. He feels very lucky to be here. His father spoke the language of his mother’s tribe which is Tewa. It’s very obscure, it’s not like Navajo which is written, you have to teach it. He was never even alone with Maverick's mother until they got married, every date they had was chaperoned. His mother always respected how devoted he was to her and she was determined to give him a son. Maverick was surrounded by a lot of love but his parents strictly disciplined him. Now that he is older, he appreciates that they raised him this way.
When he came to L.A., he came here with his thinking cap on. Maverick came here with his focus. He came here with the survival tools his parents gave him, knowing that if you want to make it in this life, then you have to work for it. Ain’t nobody gonna give it to you, you have to get it yourself. In an environment like L.A., if you do that, you will make it.
One of the things that serves as a daily mantra in his life comes from his father. He told him, “Son, if you give everything you have to life, life will give everything it has to you, but giving everything that you have to life is not easy. You have to be truly determined that you will completely sacrifice yourself and devote everything you have within you to life. If you continue to do that on a daily basis you will see how life will give it right back.” Maverick is here to give everything he has to life, and he knows that life will give everything it has to him.
A leading Hollywood CA based Independent Film Company with strong screen writing development and film funding relations.
Maverick Marsalis produced over 400 titles as a DVD producer. He ended up working for Marty Greenwald from Image Entertainment, and he wrote him his first check. At the time the compression process [to transfer film to DVD] cost $2,000 a minute, whereas now you can do that on your Apple with the click of a mouse. He sold over 65,000 units out of the trunk of his car, all the mom and pop stores up and down the west coast. He had bar codes and everything. He’ll never forget it, at the time the number one DVD was “Tomorrow Never Dies,” a James Bond movie, and his movie was number 3 on that list.
From that, Marty Greenwald tracked him down. He gave Maverick a chance, wrote him a check for $150,000 to come and produce DVD’s for him. He looked at the check for a long time, and couldn’t believe it was real to the extent that the accounting department from Image called him and forced him to cash it, in order to balance their books! He opened up his entire studio to Maverick, his whole tech department, and they had a huge operation out there in the valley. Marty was all over the place, licensing anything he could get his hands on; movies, concerts, sports and special interest concepts, just everything. He would send Maverick on the gigs too, concerts like Carlos Santana and Janet Jackson, so there he was setting up the cameras, and filming everything so he could learn the business on the production side as well as the post-production side.
After six years of doing this Maverick was financially secure, and had met lots of people thanks to Marty facilitating those relationships for him. At the end of the day, it’s not about the money, it’s not about the awards or how great the film is, it’s all about the relationships. The people who have helped me, the people he have helped, those are all the things that have really influenced Maverick. He had established a reputation, a solid body of work, and he decided to go out on his own.
Maverick liked the control and freedom of independent film making. He started writing, and working on screenplays. That took him to guys like Aaron Spelling and Zalman King, it created other opportunities to learn under people like that, and after he had made enough money, he decided to start producing things on my own. Delivering finished DVDs, selling them back to Marty Greenwald. He put out a line of DVDs. Maverick didn’t shy away from companies like Playboy or Penthouse as those were some of the first people who wanted to step up and transfer their legacy content and film libraries over to DVD, and eventually more money came in. Maverick took the cash and invested it in himself. That and his passion for cars kept him off his knees in the film business.