The Press Newspaper

Toledo, Ohio & Lake Erie

The Press Newspaper

The Press Newspaper

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        Since 1991, award winning Roberts Auto Restoration has been a staple in East Toledo, restoring hot rods and classic cars for clients who like to show them off at showcases around the country. 

        It’s a hobby that turned into a business for Garey Roberts and his son, Kevin. They have restored and fixed automobiles while creating a presence that extends far beyond Northwest Ohio. You’ve seen these type of men go to work on cable television’s classic car shows, and here’s one in our own backyard.

 

        It’s a job that Kevin has been doing since he was 21 and became a serious business when Garey bought the east side building at the age of 50. Garey, who has been working on automobiles since he was 14, was an employee of Ed Schmidt Pontiac in Perrysburg for 28 years before starting up his own business at 1555 East

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Garey and Kevin Roberts of Roberts Auto Restoration with a 1932 Ford 3 window coupe that they are restoring. (Press photo by Ken Grosjean)

Broadway.

        “We've done an awful lot of cars over the years. I think we play a role in the community. If it wasn't for us, I don't think there'd be as many car people in Toledo as there are,” said Garey, 77. “If we go somewhere, people follow.

        “There have been a lot of our cars that have gone overseas. We did a car that went to Germany and one went to Sweden. One of my cars is in Georgia and my son had one that went to San Diego. We are currently working on an Oldsmobile for a guy who lives (near) Cleveland. We are also working on a car for a guy in Midland, Michigan.”          

        The Roberts’ profession is different from how it is sometimes portrayed on television with shows like Counting Cars and Fast ’N Loud.

        “With the TV shows, it's kind of glorified that (this profession) is easy work. It's actually a lot of work,” said Kevin. “We had a class come through from Penta Career Center and we told the kids, ‘It’s not all fun and games, it’s not a 40-hour work week. It can be 60 to 70 hours. You've got to have a passion for what we do. We enjoy doing this.’

        “There are definitely ups and downs. We love working on the older cars, that's our passion. We've had cars in magazines, we've taken our cars to national shows — my dad and I drive our cars to Tennessee, Columbus and Indianapolis. That's separate, that's the hobby side, which is separate from the business. It's a lot of work, it’s hardly ever a 40-hour work week.

        “We just finished a 1970 SS Chevy Chevelle, a ’32 Ford Coop and a ’71 Oldsmobile. We're basically known for ’32 Fords — that's what we've been known for. My uncle had '40 Fords, the old Ford hot rods.”

        While working with family can sometimes be contentious, Garey and Kevin have been able to make things operate smoothly for the last quarter of a century. 

        “He's taught me a lot through the years,” said Kevin. “It’s been pretty cool working with your dad. We work together well.” 

        Kevin says there are plenty of differences between the automobiles of today and those of yesteryear, which factors into the restoration process.

        “With evolution, there are good and bad parts to that. Cars now are so modern and complicated, I don't know if they'll survive 70 to 80 years. I'm not sure the 2017s are going to be around,” said Kevin. “With everything it takes to run these cars, we'll see. You used to have to tune your car up, now you plug it into a computer. I don't know if it's going to survive over time like the simpler things.”

        The shop also provides collision service for damaged cars, something that helps keep the business going.

        “The everyday insurance work, there’s no glory in that. You get people back on the road, so we get a lot of repeat business that way,” said Kevin. “We definitely enjoy working on the older stuff more, but you need to do the other stuff to survive in this business. We do a fair amount of collision work.”

       

 

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