Welcome to NYC’s chop-shop district
But behind the crime and decay are the world’s most dedicated petrolheads
Posted: 20 Jun 2014
You can just make out the top of Manhattan from here. The bright glass fingers give this place a vanishing point, a tension and an irony. Willets Point is eight miles from America's grand capitalist experiment, north of Queens, south of the breadline, and with no running water or sewage system. It folds in downbeat garages with no-questions-asked employment, as well as homes for the destitute and a black market for stolen cars. Which are often the same thing.
It's a difficult place to pass through. Literally. What's left of the paved road has been beaten by deep, pupil-black puddles. Even a careful line at crawling pace paints cars with a militant shade of brown muck as they lurch in and out of the craters. It's one of few sources of amusement for the Willets Point workers, who are either on the edge of their seat or mid-flight, finding the thing to fix the thing.
But the stew of metal and grime and sliding eyes is punctured by small triumphs. Or, in Felix Lora's case, a big red one.
Words: Matthew Jones
Pictures: Gabriel Milori
This feature first appeared in Top Gear magazine