Larry Kosilla cleaned cars in high school like a lot of people… he did it for the extra gas money for his car. He did it with a friend, Matt Farah, who like Kosilla, had a passion for cars. Kosilla went to college at the University of Virginia and majored in economics. Afterwards, he began his career working in NYC, like most of his classmates. But there was something lacking in his Wall Street job…something that just couldn’t replace his love for cars and his fascination with caring for them.
So to the dismay of his co-workers, Kosilla left his job to launch his own car detailing business with the help of his friend, and then business partner, Matt Farah. After a successful run together, Farah and Kosilla went their separate ways. Farah left NYC and headed to Los Angeles to pursue his career as an on-air car personality. Kosilla stayed in New York to develop one of the most prestigious car detailing companies in the country: AMMO NYC. AMMO NYC caters to clients whose collections contain some of the rarest vehicles in automotive history. Some of these cars are so rare that Kosilla cannot, and will not name them. To do so, would jeopardize his clients’ privacy and trust.
Kosilla walked away from a solid Wall Street career to get on his hands and knees cleaning road grime from Borrani wire wheels. Why? Because he says, “Every car has a unique history… and some are even documented in books or magazines that we all have read about. Getting to work on them in real life is a dream come true. I literally get to restore, maintain, and even drive pieces of automotive history. How cool is that!” Kosilla is a car guy, and like a true car enthusiast, he did what he needed to do to get his hands on the cars he loves.
After years of detailing, Kosilla became obsessed with figuring out what his detailing products were made of and how and why they worked like they did. This led Larry to work as a car-detailing consultant for a automotive-detailing manufacturer. Following this consulting assignment, Kosilla’s curiosity and determination pushed him to create his own line of product formulations. He collaborated with a team of experienced chemists and product engineers. Together, they made several unique batches of detailing products day after day—testing and re-testing Kosilla’s formulations to achieve what he describes as, “layer-ability.”. As part of his product philosophy, Kosilla added high quality ingredients (even when it meant a more expensive product). More importantly, he removed harsh chemicals that are often shown to be too aggressive and damaging to his clients’ rare and vintage cars, but are cheaper to use when manufacturing on a large scale. “Higher cost of raw materials wasn’t something I was concerned about.” Kosilla says. “At the time, I was only making small batches of my special products for myself to be used on my fleet of client cars…I never initially thought about selling it. People just kept asking what I was using, and it slowly started from there.”
With his newfound knowledge for formulating premium automotive-detailing products, Kosilla in 2012 launched a paint-regimen line of AMMO NYC, which is specifically created with the driver in mind. The regimen is based upon the concept of gently cleaning and then adding layers of protection to the paint, which provides a better looking car and also makes future washes much simpler.
Being a professional detailer, Kosilla’s propensity for OCD perfection manifests itself in the products he manufactures. Each is wrapped in beautifully designed labels that include usage directions and also small vignettes written by one his closest friends, Tad Hyde. (Hyde happens to be the original writer and brand voice of the J.Peterman Catalogue among many other beloved short stories)
Each AMMO bottle is marked with the phrase “Drive and Protect.” Yes. That’s right. He wants you to actually drive your car. Kosilla is so adamant about this that he prefers not to engage with new detailing clients who simply want their cars cleaned and then stored away never (or rarely) to be driven. Kosilla’s philosophy behind AMMO NYC puts the celebration of car culture at the center of his brand. He advocates driving your car to the fullest; and then to clean and protect it to maximize the car’s original beauty. According to Kosilla, “Cleaning your car should be part of the joy of owning it. It can also be quite relaxing, too. Sometimes it’s nice to put on my headphones after a long day of work and spend the evening detailing my own car. My wife thinks I’m crazy but I find it genuinely satisfying and relaxing.”
In 2012, Kosilla was approached by network executives at DRIVE TV (a YouTube sponsored content channel) to create a YouTube based web series focused on celebrating car culture and educating others how to detail, care for, and protect their cars. Later in 2012, Kosilla launched his first DRIVE TV show and has received hundreds of thousands of views with an average “Like” ratio of 97%, which is almost unheard-of for YouTube. You can view past episodes at the DRIVE TV Channel: Drive Clean.
During his first season of DRIVE Clean, Kosilla’s walked viewers through a range of topics, from how to properly perform a basic “Sunday Wash,” to how to remove fine paint scratches from your car’s clear-coat. As part of his detailing approach, Kosilla says, “It is important to have a nice quality detailing product; but if you aren’t properly using the product you have, it doesn’t really matter what’s in it…you could have the most amazing detailing products in the world, but if you’re not using them properly, you could potentially damage your car.”
In addition to his Drive Clean episodes, Kosilla creates and publishes a series of simplified “Ride Along” videos that feature him solving common detailing mistakes and challenges using some of his clients’ super cars. At the end of each video, Kosilla encourages viewers to post questions in the YouTube comment section, which he can then reply to and add more detail if needed. He also encourages car enthusiasts to subscribe to his AMMO NYC page on Facebook for additional car-care tips and links to relevant car culture.
In 2013, AMMO will unveil a new set of product regimens designed specifically to clean wheels and interiors (which are often the most contaminated parts of the car). He’s most excited about the new “AMMO Plum Wheel Cleaner, which is formulated to loosen stubborn dirt on wheels and tires. It’s pH balanced, meaning it’s soft and safe to use on any type of wheel and can be used safely on rubber tires.( Larry insists on systematically testing all his products in the field prior to releasing them to the public). AMMO Brute Wheel Soap is specifically designed to be used on wheels and should be used with a designated wheel-cleaning bucket (its formulation is too strong for a typical paint wash).
A limited supply of high quality brushes will also be released by AMMO this coming spring. These are designed to help loosen dirt trapped in the hard-to-reach areas in the wheels. Like all of his detailing formulations, Larry himself tested the brush design for months on end, soaking it in dirty water, banging it around to see if the handle would split or if the bristles would fall out.
Kosilla knows it’s not just about keeping cars clean. “Automobiles are works of art that are far too good to be kept indoors, treated like they belong in museums. They belong outdoors. They’re designed to be driven—hard—on the road.”
This Drive + Protect philosophy makes AMMO NYC products unique in that the products are formulated by a detailer who actually spends his days detailing cars; he then invests his income into developing new products for his clients and then gives other car enthusiasts the opportunity to use them too.
Not only are new AMMO products arriving in 2013, but the highly anticipated Season 2 of Drive Clean debuts this spring. I’m also excited to say Larry will begin contributing to Cars Always with new videos and articles that will reflect his passion for cars, which is so readily seen in every AMMO product he develops.