Meet Matthew (Matt) Hunter, a SharePoint Configuration Management Specialist with a unique blend of skills, including providing Tier 1 and Tier 2 tech support and building and selling gaming PCs. But beyond the lines of assembling games and developing intricate SharePoint solutions, he has a love for the raw power of muscle cars. His love for muscle cars spans decades. To Matt, muscle cars are not just machines; they are a symphony of power, speed, and craftsmanship that resonates with the same dedication he brings to his development projects.

Read about his love for muscle cars.

AMSG: Tell us a bit about yourself.

Matthew Hunter (MH): I am on the Department of Energy Acquisition and Funds Management Branch (DOE AMFB) contract as the SharePoint Configuration Management Specialist and have been with AMSG for almost a year. My professional background is a bit scattered. From restaurant work like hosting, serving, and cooking to being a forklift operator to getting my start in the IT world at HP – I’ve done a lot.

Before HP, I was an IT Consultant, helping people with their IT issues. I primarily focused on building and selling gaming PCs, and I still do this on the side as a hobby to this day! At HP, I worked in their gaming division, OMEN, for about six months until I was headhunted to then work at Sandia National Labs in Albuquerque as a Frontline Support Tech. I only lasted as a Tier 1 tech for about seven months until I was promoted to Tier 2 where I continued to hone my skills with any and all issues that Tier 1 was unable to fix. While maintaining my own queue, I was one of two techs across the board selected to also take care of the High Risk/Critical queue.

While working there, I found my current position. I was told the organization was up against a rock and a hard place about getting everything that once was paper digitized and organized in a SharePoint site and there really was no solid starting point. I was hooked.

It was a task nobody was quite sure how to handle against a hard deadline with pressure coming down from DOE mandates to get this done. There was also no solid guidance or even a solid plan as how to handle it other than “we need a SharePoint person.” It all boiled down to a giant puzzle I was offered to solve.

And although, my initial reaction was to say yes, I hesitated. I’d been with companies with good and bad culture and realized good company culture was paramount to my happiness as an employee, and I did not want to dedicate my time and energy to a company that did not value me. However, when I realized AMSG was exactly what I was looking for (and now, more than I ever could have imagined), I took the job and have been grateful ever since.

AMSG: How did you get into muscle cars?

MH: Members of my father’s side of the family worked in the GM and Chevy plants in Detroit. However, my father was always the outlier because he was the only Ford guy in the family, and the only one with a Mustang poster on his wall, while his siblings all had Hemi ‘Cudas, Chargers, Challengers, etc. My grandfather even owned a Challenger.

However, my dad was not able to enjoy his hobby of cars for most of his young adult life since he was in the Army and was constantly deployed. But when he was home, most of our time together was spent around car shows, working on whatever project he had at home, or watching car shows such as Top Gear on TV. Lucky for me, our favorite car shows didn’t come on until I was off of school and around the time he got home, so it was always a race for the couch as soon as the last bell rang. He always told me that I did not have to love Mustangs, specifically, just because he did. However, I “caught the bug” and have been obsessed ever since. But I do appreciate and admire all cars and builds equally.

AMSG: What do you like about muscle cars?

MH: Cars – muscle cars in particular – have a certain character and charisma. They each have their own quirks, strengths, weaknesses, and attributes that say a lot about the person who drives them. To me, I do not feel like I step into a car, and I have to control the car – it feels like I strap the car to myself, and it becomes an extension of my body.

Personally, I enjoy racing, specifically track racing. When you’re racing, it becomes a balancing act of riding that line between the limitations of your car and chaos, and being able to hold that balance is a feeling unlike anything else.

Cars, supercars, sports cars, muscle cars, and hyper cars are all beautiful pieces of art built from metal and rubber and take on a plethora of forms, but all have a distinct uniqueness that separate them from the rest. It’s about finding that specific one that fits you and you only. Even if it’s common like a Mustang or rare like a Ferrari, there is a car that brings out that feeling in everyone.

AMSG: Tell us about the muscle cars you’ve owned.

MH: I have owned several Mustangs in my life and they each had their own personality. My first car, a 1986 Mustang GT, did not like turning on with the headlights on first. However, it did not have a problem having the headlights turned on after the engine was turned on. It ran perfectly throughout my high school years.

My other car, a 2014 Mustang GT, I built for track racing. That was more aggressive sounding and had higher horsepower, torque, and track times than other 2014 Mustang GTs that were identically built. I drove others to see if we could figure out why, but no answer has been found to this day!

Unfortunately, I no longer have my 2014 Mustang GT though. Currently, I have a 2019 VW Jetta GLI. I have a life rule that I will never drive something that doesn’t bring me that specific feeling of joy. However, when the time is right, I’m hoping I will be able to get back into another Mustang and be able to cruise around with my family or to finally be able to beat my dad around a track.

AMSG: What’s the process like for building/restoring a muscle car?

MH: I have restored a few cars in my life and the process is usually broken down into the same few phases: research, tear down, and the build itself. Research usually takes the longest (or it should, I won’t sit here and even suggest I haven’t gotten trigger happy purchasing parts that I ended up not needing for a build). But basically, you look at the car and assess any damage like rust or parts that need to be replaced.

Once you feel confident in the list of things that can be saved/reused and what needs to be replaced, then you can start the tear down process where you remove all the parts that need rebuilding/replacing and replace it with the rebuilt/new parts. Some builds are more extensive than others where you’re replacing pieces with high performance pieces or you find another thing you didn’t notice that makes you step back and fix something. But the commonality between every build is the journey. And the first time you get to drive your new creation is a surreal feeling.

AMSG: What makes a muscle car a “muscle car”?

MH: The definition of a muscle car can be different for everyone. For me, a muscle car is a two-door sports car with a powerful engine designed for performance driving. For example, the 1969 Ford Mustang came in a variety of packages. The base model Mustang came with a 200ci inline-6-cylinder engine that made a whopping 120hp. However, that same Mustang in that same year also could come with a 428ci Super Cobra Jet with a 4-speed manual transmission that was rated at 375hp, but actually came out closer to around 500hp.

A brand-new Mustang doesn’t have that much horsepower out of the factory, but that’s a muscle car in my book. A standard commuter car with more aggressive styling and suspension that was given a more powerful engine, was made to be driven, and is reasonably priced to be enjoyed by anyone who dares sit in the driver’s seat. And muscle cars do not have to be American, either. The Japanese have figured out how to have the same amount of fun and power out of engines much smaller than the Mustang, which I equally love and admire.

AMSG: Are there muscle car competitions?

MH: In terms of competitions, there are A LOT of car shows and competitions. There are car shows for owners who want to cruise into a lot, park and display their prized motorized possessions, and simply walk around looking at everyone else’s cars. It’s simply about having a good time that revolves around our shared obsession.

Others like to build their cars for the sole purpose of drifting (if you like going around corners sideways) or going fast in a straight line with drag racing or around corners with track racing/autocross. These are based on who get across the finish line in the smallest amount of time. In either racing or the car shows, you usually get grouped into classes of cars that are similar to yours so that you can be fairly and competitively judged and graded.

Although I tend to spend my time more on autocross, which is about who can go around a very tight, precise course as fast as possible, I enjoy doing all of the above. Being able to see the fruits of your labor in a car you spent lots of time, money, sweat, tears, a few choice words, and everything in between to then push your car to the absolute limits (without breaking down, ask me how I know), and being able to beat out veterans who have been racing for many, many years is a feeling that the vast majority of people don’t know.

AMSG: Have you ever competed?

MH: I have dozens of awards for displaying several cars between a variety of classes and have a few wins in drag racing and autocross. My most recent competition was during the 2023 Hot Rod Power Tour where my dad and me took his 2007 Mustang Shelby GT500 almost 1,200 miles up the East Coast to five major race tracks starting in Hampton, Georgia, and ending in Bristol, Tennessee.

Since it was not split up by classes, due to it being enthusiast-level (meaning anyone can race their car), no classes were made so everyone ran the same track. However, car guys can create competition out of seemingly nothing, so when we found a few guys with similar cars, of course we had to see who was the fastest. I was able to beat out the next best car by almost three seconds, but my dad and I had the same exact time, so a win for me versus him is still yet to come!

AMSG: What’s the muscle car community like?

MH: Like every other group, the car community has its mix of people. However, the majority of the car community reminds me of this group of people at our company. We all have our own particular likes and dislikes and a mix of personalities, but we support each other unlike any other group I have seen.

If one of us is down or broken down, the rest come together to pick them up or get them running again (or towed, ask me how I know). If one of us succeeds or wins, we all share in that joy. The parallels the car community has to this company are the main reasons I love our company so much. Although other companies talk the talk, they can’t walk the walk. But AMSG really does walk the walk. This is the first and only company I have been with that makes everyone feel valued, that their interests are as important to the company as it is the individual, that their health and well-being is important, that it is okay to have differing opinions, and most importantly, that everyone is important and crucial to the company from the top, down.

I am thankful, appreciative, and honored to share in the company of our company and everyone in it and am excited to see where we all go in the future. I will leave you with a few car-related quotes from two of my car idols that sums up what being a car guy like myself feels like:

“If one day the speed kills me, do not cry because I was smiling” – Paul Walker

 “It’s a never-ending battle of making your cars better and also trying to be better yourself.” – Dale Earnhardt

Written by: Juania Owens