Hunter Downey: a mechanical life

Downey takes the small act of tinkering with machines to a new level


Meghan Ortizcazarin

By Morgan Matson

When senior Hunter Downey looks under the hood of a car, his face lights up. Instead of looking at 4000 pounds worth of junk, he immediately sees potential, adventure, and a work of art. For him, engines and mechanical upgrades are beautiful, and not just means for money, but truly a passion that he loves.

Downey’s dream of becoming a mechanic started when he was a young child. “As a little kid I knew I wanted to be a mechanic. I would take apart vacuum cleaners and lawn mowers. However, my mother would yell at me constantly because I wouldn’t put them fully back together,” Downey said.

He began telling a story of one of his first creations. “When I first started getting into mechanics, I stole my family’s old lawn mower, took it apart and created my own go-kart,” Downey said. “It did not end well–I ended up crashing within the first ten minutes of driving.”

Downey owns a garage in Northeast Minneapolis and tends to eight regular customers. ‘I work [for people who] want to update their cars, [but] don’t want to go to the mechanic and overpay.’”

The miraculous part of Hunter’s passion is that he is completely self-taught. “Well, the first book I learned off of was my old station wagon manual. I learned every part of my car, how it worked, how the fuses were, how the computers were, so that was the basis of where I learned to operate cars, fuel and air mixtures, and combustion engines,” Downey said.

Hunter’s passion has evolved into a thriving business, which he started two years ago with his father’s car parts business. Downey owns a garage in Northeast Minneapolis and tends to eight regular customers. “I work on cars [for people who] want to update their car, [but] don’t want to go to the mechanic and overpay. I just order the parts and charge a flat rate of $20,” Downey said. Downey is now making roughly $4,000 a year, after all taxes and expenses have been paid.

Not only does Hunter Downey fix machines, but he also builds devices through his knowledge of mechanics. His favorite creation: his own super charger. “With cars, there are three key components that you need: air, fuel and ignition. So, I created my own super charger, which allows for more air to enter the engine,” Downey said.

“As you go faster, more air increases and the more power you get. They have been around for a while, but they are super expensive, not the greatest quality, so I made my own out of aluminum instead of steel.”

Downey surrounds himself with a community of people who share his passion. “I do it because I love being a part of the community. We can customize it any way we want, and it’s your own; it’s my way to express myself. I think that when people customize their cars, it’s like they are saying, this is me, and this is how I show up,” Downey said.

Downey and his friends have used their passion for fun and have gone into rocketry together. “We started building rockets together a couple of years ago, and the thing is, nobody really wants to catch a rocket when it comes down, and nobody wants to build parachutes. So we added a fuse at the end, so the rockets would blow up and fall from the sky. So instead of metal tubes falling down, cardboard would, which is a lot safer,” Downey said.

Downey’s passion will continue after graduating from BSM. “I have this entirely planned out. I want to go to Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona, Florida, and do ROTC for air force. After college, I want to do aeronautical engineering in the Air Force,” Downey said.