September '19

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60 THE SHOP SEPTEMBER 2019 to be jobbed out if the vehicle is a rare Alfa Romeo show car or a six-figure Ferrari. And even when Zat tears into projects— like a Studebaker Lark racing car—that he can do himself, he still has to order compo- nents from shops that make reproduction and high-performance parts. Many car museums do not actually own the vehicles you see displayed in them. Often, the cars and trucks are privately owned and displayed in the museum for a limited time. Many museums that do not have their own restoration departments prefer arrangements like this, since the cars have already been made presentable by their owners. At some facilities, such as the Volo Auto Museum ( in Volo, Illi- nois, many of the cars on display are also for sale. A creative restoration shop owner can visit such a car store museum, look for vehicles needing work and contact the owners to quote prices for repairs. Once you have a collector's name, it's relatively simple to contact him or her through car club rosters or via the Internet. The museum may or may not help, as well. READY-MADE WORK One nice thing about museum cars is that they usually don't need a complete restora- tion. Generally, the cosmetic appearance of museum cars is good, although some aging may occur while a vehicle is just sitting. Museum cars that haven't been restored may need paint touch-up, upholstery repairs or parts re-chromed. If the car has not been operated in a long time, a tune- up, oil change, transmission flush or brake system inspection may be in order. The museum car owner may not need your shop's services tomorrow, but when the car goes off display at the museum, it will be the perfect time to sell him or her a service package. Don't wait until the car goes into deep storage at the owner's home. If the museum is privately owned, you may be able to advertise your services there. The owner or manager may be willing to let you put up a sign on a bulletin board or give out business cards on either a gratis or bartering basis. A car museum that generates a lot of traffic is a great place to let the public know you do restoration work. If your shop also offers detailing services, you may get busi- ness from modern car owners, too. Just having your shop associated with a car museum in people's minds may be a big plus for your business. The public thinks of a museum as a place to see high-quality cars. If you are somehow linked to that museum—i.e. Official Restoration Shop of the XYZ Museum—you may be able to gain some image enhancement. That never hurts when you're dealing with people who think of collector cars as classics. NAME YOUR SPECIALTY Some car museums are very general in nature and can get by fine without any help from outside restorers, but others have a specific focus that often requires the spe- cialized skills of a professional. For example, the Antique Automobile Club of America Museum (www.aacamu- of Hershey, Pennsylvania, houses a wide variety of antique vehicles that most talented club volunteers can restore, while the Gilmore Classic Car Club Museum ( is filled with what are known as Capital-C Classic cars such as Lincolns, Marmons and Pierce-Arrows. Such Classics often require the services of a pro- fessional restorer who specializes in that type of car. Other well-known automotive museums that might require the services of restorers with very spe- cialized knowledge bases include the Auburn-Cord-Duesenberg Museum (www.automobilemu- in Auburn, Indiana; the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Hall of Fame Museum (www.indianapolismotor- in Indianapolis; and the Kissel/Nash Museum (www.wisconsinau- in Hartford, Wisconsin. After all, not everyone knows which part goes where on a Kissel Gold Bug or who can reproduce the correct factory wood- grain on the dashboard of a multi-million- dollar Duesenberg. Matthew G. Anderson, curator of trans- portation for The Henry Ford museum ( is also president of the National Association of Automobile Museums ( This orga- nization has posted a list of 110 automotive museums, with contact information, on its website that can help shop owners get in touch with nearby establishments. An even more comprehensive museum directory can be found on the Old Cars Weekly website ( Between these two lists, your shop should be able to locate almost all of the car museums in the United States and a few in other countries. JOHN GUNNELL has been writing about classic cars since 1972. He is also the owner of Gunner's Great Garage in Manawa, Wisconsin. He owns 11 cars and seven motorcycles. Dahl Museum ( in La Crosse, Wisconsin, is an example of the opportunities car collections can offer local shops. The Automobile Gallery in Green Bay, Wisconsin, does most, but not all, restoration jobs in-house. You Belong in a Museum!

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