Generation Zoom

March 31, 2023
How four friends went from wrenching at home to opening a high-performance auto repair shop focused on maintance, modification, speed and EVs.

Kevin Dang, Mike Ly and Will Chac would work on their cars in each other’s driveways on warm summer days, enjoying their free time shortly after graduating high school.  

“Every weekend, the boys come over, we just start working on cars. Hang out for a few hours,” Dang says.  

Fast forward a few years, and that memory would be the inspiration for the name of an auto repair shop that the three longtime friends, along with fellow friend Eranthe Mitome, founded in San Jose, California, in 2018: The Driveway.  

The Driveway works primarily on sports and performance cars—like BMWs and Porsches—along with electric vehicles. It offers modification services like suspension and exhaust upgrades, brake kits, turbo and supercharger intake and even track prep along with their general service repair.  

But the idea that eventually became The Driveway goes back much further than 2018. Dang traces his interest in cars back to middle school, when he and Ly bonded over watching “The Fast and Furious: Tokyo Drift” and the rest of The Fast and Furious franchise, and “Initial D,” an anime about a Japanese street racing series.  

“I was really into the whole drifting thing back then,” says Dang, also noting he likes rear-wheel-drive cars.  

Back in middle school, Dang and Ly obviously couldn’t drive, but they could ride bikes. They’d go biking and—as they’d later do with cars of their own—Dang and Ly would work on their bikes in the driveway.  

“Before cars, we were riding mountain bikes together,” Dang says. “Like ride and work on our bikes. Because we don’t have a car to work on, so the next best thing is our bike.”  

Then in high school, around the time Dang met Chac, Dang finally got the chance to get under the hood of a car during the course of an automotive class at his school. 

“Our school was like the only school in the area that has an automotive shop where we have lifts and tools and everything,” Dang says.  

“We get to learn everything about the cars … How did the system work, the water system, cooling system … and all that,” he adds.  

That class sparked more of an interest in the auto industry in Dang, to the point where he began to think about opening up his own shop. And that interest just kept growing.  

“I always watch YouTube and see other cool car shops, and I always wanted to start my own,” he says.  

Cue The Driveway 

Dang’s dream of starting a shop soon became a reality with the creation of The Driveway. And the type of cars worked on and services provided at the four friends’ shop can be traced right back to their driveways. Many of the higher-end cars and modifications they do is the same type of work they liked to do on their own cars in their free time.  

But one of the main cars they work on—Teslas—happened more so by chance. After the shop had been open for a while, Dang says they had a few customers who came in for different installations on their Teslas; there weren’t many shops around at the time that offered any sort of services for Teslas or other electric vehicles.  

Those customers gave The Driveway glowing reviews, which spawned more and more customers, eventually making Teslas one of the primary cars worked on at their shop.  

“From there, we started working with other aftermarket Tesla brands. We started collaborating, so like when they have customers, we’ll (get) it sent down to us, and we’ll take care of the customers,” Dang says.

Not Your Everyday Shop 

The Driveway isn’t simply a general service shop that offers mods for sports cars. They’re also involved in racing. The Driveway sponsors a driver in a time-attack series, providing services like alignments and tire changes, among other things and their shop has a decal on display on the vehicle.  

“We have one customer that is driving a Tesla and he needed a support shop to help him maintain the car for the track, so we kind of sponsor him there,” Dang says. “We give him services … and then we get to put our decal on his car.”  

And the car sporting The Driveway’s decal has been seeing some success, including some first-place finishes, Dang says.  

Additionally, The Driveway has created its own merch, including T-shirts hats and beanies, which they sell in a booth at car shows, where they’ll also display items like suspensions, control arms and wheels.  

A Bigger Driveway 

The Driveway will turn five years old this year, and their business has continued to see growth each year. But it hasn’t always been easy.  

“There’s a lot of growing pains,” Dang says. “Once we figured out how everything works, it was pretty smooth sailing from there.”  

And they’ve seen more and more customers come through their doors each year, and they’ve recently added three employees, which brings them up to six total.  

“We’ve kind of outgrown the space now. We’re trying to look for a new location soon,” Dang says. 

It’s time for Dang, Ly, Chac and Mitome to find a bigger driveway.  

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