Boutique car shop follows owner’s dream of amping up imports
Tucked away in a corner of the old Modern Equipment manufacturing plant at 740 W. Oakland Ave. in Port Washington is Quantum Performance, a high-tech automotive shop that caters to owners of imported cars who want to squeeze every ounce of horsepower out of their vehicles.
For the time being, owner Aaron Christensen operates the shop evenings and weekends. During the work week, he is a mechanic at Infiniti North Shore in Glendale.
The long days haven’t dimmed his passion for performance vehicles.
While a student at Grafton High School, Christensen took a couple classes in teacher Carl Hader’s acclaimed automotive program.
Still, Christensen said, he wasn’t bitten by the automotive bug until he bought his first car — a 1995 Nissan 240SX.
“That was before Nissan was a well-known brand. I just kept working on it on my own, making little adjustments to improve its performance,” Christensen said.
After high school, he studied computer science at the University of Wisconsin - Oshkosh, but found his mind straying to thoughts of how he could tinker with his car.
“My father always told me, ‘You should do what you love,’ so I began looking into programs that would teach me how to modify performance cars,” Christensen said.
That quest led him to a nationally recognized auto mechanic program at WyoTech— formerly known as Wyoming Technical Institute — in Laramie, Wyo.
“It almost felt like a military school. We had to wear uniforms every day and every hour of class time had to be
accounted for,” Christensen said.
“The best part of the program was at the end, when we got to work on our own vehicles using the state-of-the-art equipment in their shop and got credit for it.”
He graduated from WyoTech’s high-performance program and began working as a mechanic for Andrew Nissan and later Infiniti North Shore.
Those jobs allowed Christensen to refine his technique as a mechanic, but he still wanted to learn more about how to push vehicles to their limits.
“There are a lot of shops that specialize in muscle cars, but there aren’t many around that make performance modifications for imports,” he said.
Christensen knew he had found his niche, and Quantum Performance was born last March.
The shop specializes in fine-tuning Japanese imports such as Nissan, Subaru, Toyota and Mazda for performance and racing, and has also dabbled in European cars, such as Porsche, Audi and Volkswagen.
Working with him is technician Tyler Videkovich, another graduate of the Grafton High automotive program.
They became friends after Videkovich bought Christensen’s beloved Nissan 240SX.
Videkovich continues to modify the car as time permits. He is currently installing a 280Z engine onto the restored chassis.
Videkovich also completed training at WyoTech’s campus in Blairsville, Pa.
Both men are ASE-certified master technicians.
Rounding out the team is Christensen’s wife Joni, who does the shop’s bookkeeping. The couple live in Port Washington.
Although the immaculately maintained 3,500-square-foot shop features three service bays and two hydraulic lifts, the highlight is the in-ground Mustang dynamometer.
“It is a very expensive piece of equipment and the only one in the area,” Christensen said.
Linking a dedicated computer with specialized software and using rollers that allow vehicles to reach road speeds without moving, the dynamometer measures a wealth of performance information.
“I can document the torque and horsepower of a car from the day it is brought in, and generate a printout that shows the improvements achieved after we tuned the vehicle,” Christensen said.
As word has spread about the improvements the shop can make in a car’s performance, business has steadily grown — especially among the racing set.
“It is kind of slow in the winter, but when spring rolls around, everyone wants their cars shining and at peak performance. It can get pretty busy here,” Christensen said.
Because it is a speciality shop that sometimes works on classic cars, the availability of parts can be challenging.
“We’ve had to wait for two months for parts sometimes on some of the older cars. The more ‘vintage’ the owner is, the more they understand that is part of having an older car. But the young guys tend to be a little more impatient,” Christensen said.
“Some times it takes a little more time to do things right. There is a trial and error process, but my goal is to make sure everything we do is done right the first time. We believe if you’re looking for ‘good enough’ or ‘just fine,’ you came to the wrong shop.”
As the customer base grows, Christensen said, he can envision a time when the shop becomes his full-time occupation.
“I am still learning all the time, but that it definitely the plan,” he said.
Image Information: QUANTUM PERFORMANCE in Port Washington is the only independent auto shop that has a Mustang dynamometer. Above, owner Aaron Christensen checks the performance readings of a vehicle running on the high-tech machine. Lower left, mechanic Tyler Videkovich works under the hood of a car in the shop. Lower right, Joni Christensen does the books and keeps track of inventory for her husband Aaron. Photos by Mark Jaeg