Midwest Kustoms Autobody is a story of passion to reality

“Everybody here is here because of the passion,” says owner Cortland Thurman, who moved his autobody shop to Martin City almost a year ago.

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Cortland Thurman, with his 1954 Pontiac Star Chief,, restores old cars as well as banged up new ones. Photo by Kathy Feist


Midwest Kustoms Autobody adds an extra touch to keep customers returning

By Kathy Feist

It’s hard to believe Cortland Thurman, owner of Midwest Kustoms Autobody, was studying to be an anesthesiologist. But then again, helping fix things may just be part of his nature.

At Midwest Kustoms Automotive, 13510 Oak St., Thurman and his crew repair dents, restore old cars, sell exotic wheels and provide customized bodywork on any vehicle. They even engage in some mechanical work, especially “restomod” which is when an old car’s system is replaced with the modern technology of a new one.

Thurman said he started doing body work at the age of 13. Growing up, cars bonded he and his two brothers with their dad, who was a computer scientist. Thurman grew to have a passion for repairing and customizing cars. “My passion turned into my dream, and my dream, reality,” he says.

Thurman, who is originally from Houston, graduated from Center High School and then UMKC. His first shop was out of a house at 96th and Terrace around 2006. Business spread through word of mouth, he said.  The business then moved to 6707 Prospect before expanding to 7901 Prospect, off 71 Hwy. There he enjoyed exposure from heavy traffic. But when his contract ended, and the property had been sold, he began looking for a new location.

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Can you name them? (l-r) Cadillac Escalade, Mercedes S600, Pontiac Firebird, Corvette, Pontiac Star Chief, Mercedes SL500, and Mercedes CLK 430. Photo by Reana Marie.

“Martin City chose me,” he said. The ad for the site kept reappearing on his computer while searching for a space on the internet. “Through the grace of God it materialized and it worked.”

“I love it out here,” he says. “I love our neighbors.I love the support that all the businesses are giving us.”

Thurman’s shop is off the beaten path, just down the road south of RC’s. But the support of his old clientele and Martin City business owners, such as Rosehill, IEC, Grade A Tree Service and others, have kept him busy.

“We’re swamped,” he says. In fact, he’s looking for more workers to add to his crew.

“Everybody here is here because of the passion,” he says. “Sometimes we do the extra stuff for the customer without being paid for it just so it can look right. So we do the extras for ourselves. The customers love it. And that’s why they keep coming back.”

Thurman also has a dealers license. It has enabled him to buy cars and rebuild them. Tucked away in his own personal museum is a testament to his skills: a 1954 red Pontiac Star Chief. Nearby is Thurman’s pride and joy, 1973 TransAm RAM Air Hood. He houses a large collection ranging from a 1964 Mustang convertible to a 2008 S600 V12 Mercedes, all waiting to be tinkered with. But for now, they must sit.

“We’re so busy with customer’s cars, that we can’t find time to do our own,” he says.


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