The iconic Tesla Roadster is the mission in life for an iconic man and his family
Tucked away in a relatively small garage on Delridge Way, Medlock and Sons does not look like a famous place. But for the former and current owners of the now iconic original Tesla Roadster EV, there is no other shop like it in the world.
Tesla only produced around 2450 of the cars worldwide (1500 in the U.S) and since they sold originally for between $80,000 to $120,000 they were a collector's item right away.
The cars went through design and engineering changes over time but when the supply of the original Lotus frames ran out, Tesla stopped production. By then, Tesla had gained enough traction and investor interest to produce the Model S Sedan. That also marked the cutoff point for parts and in many cases, service for the original Roadster.
Enter Carl Medlock.
Born in Basin City, Washington, Carl learned some valuable lessons from his parents and grandparents. It was a small town so your reputation was something everyone valued. His grandfather told him, "A man's word is sacrosanct or he is nothing and you always leave something on the table."
That lesson proved to be pivotal for him because as he entered the world of work he developed a name as someone who just tells the truth and goes above and beyond to provide great customer service.
First as a technician at Ford, Lincoln Mercury Land Rover, Jaguar where he won nearly 20 customer service awards and then later as an independent repair/technician/ and car dealer himself, he caught the eye of the then embryonic Tesla dealership. They hired him as a Regional Manager in May of 2009.
Working at Tesla meant people of means would buy the cars, need them serviced and that meant Carl would often fly out to their location to fix problems. He's very protective of most of the names but they are names everyone would know who owned these cars and appreciated Carl's honesty and no-nonsense manner.
Did he meet Elon Musk? Carl not only met him but worked three desks away from him. "I met him many times. He was a regular guy at the office. He didn't have a fancy desk. Those stories about him sleeping on couches and the shop floor? Those are true. He's got a vision and he stuck with it."
Carl gets that Musk can be controversial but said, "He's just messing with people sometimes. But he's a really good Dad. He's got five kids, a couple with autism, and he's doing good with them. That's kind of how I judge a man's character."
His shop, formerly located in Burien, is now filled with roadsters (and even the occasional other model of Tesla) that come from all over the nation. "There's four or five here from Florida there's one here from New Jersey, one from Vermont, and five from Canada." Many of the cars were in fact owned by well known people such as David Vaskevitch, the former Chief Technical Officer for Microsoft.
One was left to Carl by MASH star David Ogden Stiers. Others are giants of the tech industry who bought the cars often to support the development of electric vehicles. It appears to have worked. Tesla today is the most valuable car company in the world, worth more than the nine largest carmakers combined.
Carl's sons Austin, Kelvin and Randy now work in the shop with him but they learned the lesson of customer service too. They are regularly flown around the nation to work on cars that need some TLC.
As car guys they surprisingly don't drive electric cars, opting instead for a mix of motorcycles, trucks and other gas powered transportation. But they temper that with some car wisdom. "It's the right vehicle for the purpose. If it's daily commuting, go with an EV every time. If you are towing a big boat you'd want a turbo diesel truck, " said Randy.
Because Tesla no longer makes parts for the Roadster, the Medlock's have been forced to improvise. True to form, they went several levels better. They literally make replacement parts, from body parts to roll bars often out of carbon fiber, meaning they are stronger, more durable and often better looking than the original. " We do all kinds of upgrades to these cars," Carl said.
Their innovation does not stop there. They are planning on building an "electric street rod" out of a 1933 Ford "suicide door"pickup truck using a Tesla motor and a custom battery pack.
Medlock and Sons is special, not just because of the cars.
But because of the lessons learned a long time ago. They prove that some things truly are timeless.
He's been featured on CNBC where they refer to him as the Tesla Roadster Whisperer.
The What's Inside Podcast with Dan Markham has done several episodes about Carl and the shop.
Great story and impressive family. Yeah Tesla!!
Carl built some beautiful VW’s back in the day too!