Grady teen has a hit on his hands - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Grady teen has a hit on his hands

Cairo-- A mechanical prodigy in is producing cutting-edge all-terrain vehicles unlike anything you've ever seen. What was once a hobby for 18-year-old Michael Califano has turned into a business. He just opened a shop Friday.

Sparks fly when Michael Califano goes to work each day. His is truly a labor of love, making one-of-a-kind all-terrain-vehicles. Califano is only 18, but he's already considered an expert. "I started when I was 12 in Tallahassee, in our two car garage."

Besides his innovative ATV's, Califano makes chopper motorcycles, and is a pioneer in developing hydrogen engines. "This is radical, it's just totally for the 21st century," he says.

Major corporations are asking for his help because the same fuel powers his designs. "Hydrogen is so quiet. It's hummmmmmm, when it's running like that. It puts out a very slight hum. It's not like a gasoline engine."

One of the most unique aspects of Califano's designs is that they can't be detected by radar. That's a selling point he hopes will earn him a contract with the military. "The Army model would have doors on it. It would be enclosed. It would have a roll bar on it."

Califano's premier ATV is the "Humm 2," named after that sound its hydrogen engine makes. But the Humm-2 is so much more than a conventional four-wheeler. "If you're a dad and want to cut the grass, you can cut the grass. And then your son who wants to go four wheeling can take the deck off and then use it as a regular four wheeler. And then you can switch the wheels on the back and use it as a regular chopper."

The HUMM-2 costs almost $9,000. But it's not about the money for Califano, it's about perfection. "If I can get it just spaced perfect, that'll work there." It's also about pride in a job well done. The best thing of it is building it and then getting it out there on the road, and then seeing everyone's faces and them telling you what a nice job you've done."

From a lawnmower, to a four-wheeler, to a chopper, it doesn't matter, all of Califano's designs are street legal. Califano has had an offer from a Chinese company to mass-produce his ATV's and engines. But he says he wants his business to stay and expand in Cairo because Grady County needs more industry.

posted by dave.miller@walb.com