Tucson Padres: Doors open for car nut Cunningham

2011-06-21T00:01:00Z Tucson Padres: Doors open for car nut CunninghamBy Sarah Trotto Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
June 21, 2011 12:01 am  • 

Aaron Cunningham had arranged to sell his car to a guy named Tracy, but Cunningham was in for a surprise when he opened the door to his apartment.

Standing outside was Ice-T, the rapper and actor. He wanted to buy the 2003 Lincoln Navigator from Cunningham, who had decked it out with rims, a grille and other amenities.

The Tucson Padres outfielder has been buying cars, fixing them up and selling them since 2005, when the Chicago White Sox drafted him in the sixth round.

The hobby quenches his interest in cars. Cunningham has sold five of them, mainly in Phoenix, where he makes his offseason home. Ice-T - real name: Tracy Marrow -remains his most famous customer.

"I can't really top that," Cunningham said. "It's so random it's unbelievable. It was awesome because he was very nice and polite.

"No way he knew who I was."

Cunningham said he bought the Navigator for about $30,000 after he was drafted, and put more than $10,000 into "pimping it out" with rims and a grille. Ice-T paid $20,000 for it in 2007. Cunningham said that first car taught him to make smarter investments into the cars he fixes up.

"They said they wanted a car that looked flashy," Cunningham said about Ice-T and his wife, Coco. "It was definitely too flashy for me."

Cunningham discussed how he got started with the hobby, which car was the most difficult car to fix up and why he does it. He is batting .297 for Tucson, which opens an eight-game homestand today at Kino Stadium.

How he got started

Cunningham said he and his friends have always been interested in cars. He finds cars that retain their value, such as a Lexus, on Craigslist and AutoTrader.com. Cunningham learned how to fix them up through research on the Internet and watching videos on YouTube.

"You can learn anything on the Internet," he said.

The most difficult project

Cunningham bought a 1966 Ford Bronco for $1,800 and fixed it up, selling it for $4,800. The old truck required a lot of work - he cut rust out and put a new panel in.

"I thought I was going to lose money," he said. "It was a piece of (junk)."

More than a hobby

Cunningham, 25, said he makes some money off the cars - he bought a Nissan 350Z sports car for $19,000, kept it for a year and sold it the next offseason for $21,000.

"Now I'm trying to buy an older car and put some time into it, do some body work, put a little money into it," Cunningham said, noting he hopes it will be a Chevy Camaro. "If I fall in love with it, I'll keep it."

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