This story has been edited to correct the number of years Hector Hernandez has lived in Phelan and to indicate that his garage is private.
BARSTOW - Hector Hernandez got a brand new car on Monday and now he's going to take it apart.

Hernandez and the staff of the ESPN2 show "Car Wars with Funkmaster Flex" bought a 2008 Ford Focus from Soutar's Ford dealership in Barstow to be used in an upcoming season of the show. The show involves four teams of car customizers competing over six weeks to transform their vehicles into unique rides to be judged by a national panel.

Soutar's was asked to participate in the show because it was one of the closest dealerships to Hernandez' home in Phelan that had the exact model Ford Focus required for the competition, said Sean Vizzo, sales manager for the dealership.

"It was a unique opportunity to provide a car that's actually going to be on television," he said.

Contestants for the show are each given an identical car and use their own tools and staff to customize it as they see fit. Three of the four teams are from the East Coast. Hernandez, owner of Air Storm Kustom, is the only other contestant. He said that he's been customizing cars in his private Phelan shop for four years. He was suggested by a fellow custom car enthusiast, Mad Mike of MTV's "Pimp My Ride," to participate in "Car Wars."

He drove to Soutar's in his 1966 Chevrolet Impala, which he calls the "Monster Armadillo." The car's engine was totally rebuilt, and six television monitors and extensive stereo equipment was added to the inside. The car sports 22 inch rims and a a custom paint job displaying orange flames that took three days to complete.

Hernandez said that he pours extensive amounts of time and money into his cars to be different from everyone else.

"It's about being an individual," he said. "This is my own drumbeat."

Hernandez said he was bound by contract not to discuss his plans to customize the Focus, but hopes to win the competition with its $40,000 grand prize and title of Ford's "Best in Show."

Andrea Sabia, "Car Wars" show coordinator, said that the program is in its fourth season. She said that the cars will be judged on the quality of their exterior, interior and engine modifications. Contestants are free to customize the cars as little or as much as they want and will be filmed as they change paint jobs, alter the tires and make other changes.

"Some teams will literally be taking the car down to nothing," she said.

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