Pimp my golf ride

Published 10:45 am Monday, April 26, 2010

If it were up to Jim O’Byrne, there wouldn’t be any stock golf carts. There are just so many different ways people can customize them, and he can help them do it.

O’Byrne owns JD Autobody and last summer started JD Custom Golf Carts. People started asking him to work on golf carts so much that he made it into a business.

“I customized one and brought it out to the campground and then everybody wanted theirs customized,” O’Byrne said.

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So far he has done about 20 carts for people in the area and for a few customers in Las Vegas. Working on golf carts comes easily to O’Byrne because they’re a lot like cars.

“They’re about the same as a car but smaller,” O’Byrne said.

He said many customers want their golf carts to have headlights, taillights and signals so they can be used on roads. People also see carts he’s done and then want their own cart to have custom work.

“People come in and want to out-do their neighbor,” O’Byrne said.

O’Byrne works with his wife, Dede, on the carts. His wife does pinstriping, graphics and also cleans the carts. O’Byrne said he’s been working on cars since he was 13.

“I liked working on cars, and I kind of grew up around it,” O’Byrne said.

Stock golf carts have about nine horsepower, but O’Byrne has upgraded carts to 16 horsepower. He adds lift kits, roll bars and even stereo equipment to the carts.

Owner: Jim O’Byrne

Address: 23520 700th Ave. Albert Lea

Phone: (507) 826-3244

Hours: 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday

Website: www.jdcustomgolfcarts.com

“We do custom dashes and add windshields,” O’Byrne said. “You can buy smooth tires or all-terrain ones.”

O’Byrne strives to create a golf cart the owner will be proud of. He has many options so the carts are unique.

“If they’ve got a cart I can do whatever they want,” O’Byrne said.

With golf cart business picking up O’Byrne gets help from a few trusted workers, and he would like to hire someone full time if the need arises.

He’s owned JD Autobody since 2004. His shop is on Freeborn County Highway 14 near Manchester. He worked at Streater in Albert Lea for 18 years but was always working on cars after work and thought he should make it into a business.

He said the 2000 and 2001 models are pretty good, and you can get a cart for about $2,000. A custom job could cost as little as about $1,000 but get more expensive with additions and modifications.

“The finished product makes you feel good,” O’Byrne said.

Examples of his work can be found on his website, www.jdcustomgolfcarts.com. Some recent custom jobs include one for a sheriff who got a badge decal on the front, a lime green cart with Pink Panther vinyl decals and bright yellow cart with black flame decals.

While he will work on any golf cart, if a customer doesn’t have one he can find one and fix it up. There are carts that run on gasoline or electric engines.

“I do quality work, and I take pride in what I do,” O’Byrne said.