Located right below an entrance to the Highline, Auto Design is perhaps the ultimate auto repair, performance enhancement and interior and exterior upgrade shop in Manhattan. Its corner lot, and indoor/outdoor setup showcasing its awesome works in progress have contributed to its well-known status. On a block that is packed with top-notch art galleries, Auto Design NYC sticks out with its rough, corrugated metal façade, body shop craftsmen working outdoors, and plethora of sports cars. The company does everything, from modifying engines and brake systems to personalized paint jobs and leather trim styling. On a particularly busy day, Auto Design proves quite a show to watch. Auto Design NYC moved from 25th Street to 46th Street at the end of 2016.
Entering Sixth Street Specials elicits instant nostalgia for motorcycle fiends. Run by Scottish transplant Hugh Mackie, this East Village garage is seen as a holdover of the neighborhood’s gritty past. Fascinatingly, Hugh had never owned a motorcycle until coming to the States in the 1980s. It was buying a bike from a coworker that sparked a hobby that then morphed into a long-lasting business. Since opening Sixth Street Specials, Hugh has serviced, scrapped, built, repaired, and customized British bikes. He initially abided by a rule of taking “anything old and anything British, ” but after UK-based motorcycle maker Triumph released its new generation of bikes, the shop has occasionally strayed from the classics into more modern territory. “I never did it up, never put a storefront or a sign up just to remain under the radar. ” Hugh recalled that there was once a host of similar garages in the Village and a dozen more downtown. However, most of them migrated to Brooklyn as the city’s zoning laws made it harder for new auto shops to settle in lower Manhattan, and traffic and parking regulations became increasingly unfriendly to bikers. As such, Sixth Street Specials stands as a stalwart reminder of bygone days, which Hugh believes is part of the secret to his permanence. “If you stay in one place long enough, people get to know you, and if you’re any good, the work comes. ”