Billy West remembers his first car at age 16: a 1968 Chevrolet Chevelle.
â€œMy dad, Floyd, and I restored the paint, engine and interior,â€ said Billy. â€œIt took a couple of years but now itâ€™s completely restored.â€
The love for older cars and restoring older cars between father and son led Floyd and Billy to leave solid careers with R-Anell Homes and start their own automotive restoration business called Klassic Rides.
â€œWe used to restore the cars at our home in Denver,â€ said Floyd. â€œI left R-Anell after over 20 years and opened the shop in April.â€
According to Floyd, he was looking for a brighter future not only for Billy but for his two other sons as well. Floyd affectionately refers to his sons as â€œhis own pit crew.â€
â€œI wanted to have something for Billy, his 16-year old brother Andrew and his 8-year old brother Steven,â€ said Floyd.
Floyd West added that what really kicked having their own business into high gear was a deal on a paint booth.
â€œI needed someplace to put it and I couldnâ€™t put it in the house,â€ said Billy.
The focus of Klassic Rides is on older cars.
â€œWe saw a need for a place for people who are driving the more classic autos, cars that have been in families for many years,â€ said Floyd.
The Westâ€™s call people who drive older automobiles daily drivers or people who own a local show car and drive that vehicle on a regular basis.
â€œThese are people who take pride in their cars,â€ said Floyd West. â€œThey donâ€™t, however, want to sink a lot of money into their ride.â€
Case in point, Westport resident Jim Novak took his 1964 GMC Pickup to Klassic Rides to be restored.
Attempts to reach Novak were unsuccessful.
According to Floyd West, Klassic Ridesâ€™ demographic is people who have had a car in their family for many years.
â€œWe want to be a place where people can feel safe at leaving their classic auto,â€ he said. â€œYouâ€™re not going to leave a classic automobile with just anybody.â€
Billy and Floyd are preparing to restore a 1969 Datsun 2000 that came from a family in the eastern North Carolina town of Havelock.
â€œThis car has been in that family for over 30 years,â€ said Floyd. â€œItâ€™s sit still for five years, and the family wants it restored to give to their college-aged daughter.â€
He added that he went to the coast to get the car and bring it back to Denver.
Floyd and Billy both donâ€™t consider Klassic Rides a â€œlocalâ€ business.
â€œWe know our name goes on everything that goes out the door,â€ said Floyd. â€œWe want everything to be perfect.â€
Perfect in not only the finished product, but perfect in the tools used to achieve that finished product.
For example, Billy â€“ now 26-years old â€“ is a certified PPG (Pittsburgh Paint Group) technician.
â€œPittsburgh paints are user-friendly,â€ said Billy. â€œItâ€™s the kind of paint that lays and covers well and has a good color match. Thatâ€™s important when youâ€™re restoring classic cars.â€
Since April, the Wests estimate theyâ€™ve done 33 total jobs, with six of them being major repair and paint.
â€œThe major jobs take well over a month,â€ said Billy. He added that Novakâ€™s GMC took between two and three months.
â€œWe put in a new wooden bed and painted the inside, among other things,â€ said Floyd West.
They also estimated the job on the 1969 Datsun will take six-to-eight months.
â€œThe length of time and investment all depends on the car,â€ said Floyd.
Between Floyd, Billy and two other staff members, thereâ€™s over 80 years experience in classic automobile restoration.
â€œWeâ€™ve had a good first year,â€ said Floyd. â€œIt was a jump, but we had a very good year.â€
Klassic Rides is located in Denver off N.C. 16 on Burnwood Trail. The shop is opened from 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and 8 a.m. – 3 p.m. Saturdays.
From Lincolnton, take N.C. 150 east to N.C. 16. Turn right and take a right onto Burnwood. Klassic Rides is the second building on the left.
For more information on Klassic Rides, call (704) 483-4826.
by Jon Mayhew