My automotive / mechanical career began in Tampa, Florida at age nine with the creation of a mini bike fabricated from an old lawn mower and a dilapidated Schwinn bicycle with the help of my mentor, a local hotrodder, named Ray VanZile. I probably had the genes passed down from my father who was a certified master mechanic for Oldsmobile (I still have the framed certificate signed by the vice president and general sales manager of the Olds Motor Works dated July 15 1936) and also Nash Motor Co. My dad did not want me to follow him in that field but he did not discourage me from it as a hobby. Ray VanZile had the coolest hot rods around our area, and, as a child who devoured every car magazine I could get hold of, he was my hero. When I approached him about helping me build that mini bike he agreed to help but not for free. A deal was struck and over the rest of my (automotive) formulative years the price was always the same “cut my grass”.
My first attempt at painting was done on a Vespa scooter my father brought home in pieces. He said I would never get it running and I could never become a mechanic because I was left-handed (he always knew how to motivate me). Not only did I get it running, but I painted it a light metallic blue with an attachment on my mother’s Electrolux vacuum cleaner in the carport of our Tampa home this at age of eleven.
My first hot rod was a 1923 Ford T-Bucket that I built from parts purchased from a Bird Engineering ad found in the back of Car Craft magazine. This was finished when I was the ripe old age of 15 (a year before I could even get a driver’s license). I had numerous tri five chevys including a 56 convertible( one I wish I still had) and just prior to going into the military in 1967 I built a 63 Chevy II with a 427 and 4 speed in the old “Gasser style” that made me a lot of pocket money at the local hangouts in Tampa. I also got married around this time and needed a family car as it was the thing to do so, the “Gasser” was sold and a 1968 VW bug was purchased. It wasn’t long before the “bug” got the best of me and I had to just tune up my V.W. a bit. That turned out to be a record holder in I Gas Class at the Oldsmar, Florida drag strip with an ET of 11.72 seconds in the ¼ mile. My auto hobby took a back seat to early family and military obligations and I resumed it in England in the 1970’s. I started modifying British sports cars (hey somebody had to do it!).
Then we fast-forward to 1993. My daughter totaled my wife’s car and I so I told Gale “I’ll build any thing you want (thinking 32 three window coupe). She picked out a 1973 MGB convertible and as the story goes the rest was history. This highly modified customized MG won not only at “British “car shows but, also at most “Rod” shows and before long I had so many people wanting me to “build” something for them that a business was born - Ross’ Restorations Inc.
I have produced Rods and Street Machines that have won numerous awards and been featured in magazines; examples include a 1969 Chevelle with a 502 and four speed owned by Mr. Richard Berg, a 1978 Firebird with a 650 HP 400 cu in with four speed for a 52 year young grandmother Teresa White, (wife of Steve White) as a “grocery getter”. I have also restored many vintage and antique autos that have won national awards and been shown at the top Concours d’Elegance shows in the country including Pebble Beach, Amelia Island, Meadow Brook, Greenwich Concours d’ Elegance, Ault Park, and the Wheels and Keels Concours d’ Elegance.
One of my favorites being a 1909 Oldsmobile X-3 touring car formally owned by Mike Tschida that was bestowed the highest award possible by the Antique Automobile Club of America for a car of it’s genre - The” AACA Cup” - as the best restored auto in the Southeastern region of the USA for the year 2000. Another favorite was a 1958 MGA coupe which I had to hand-form 37 replacement body panels. It won Best of Show at two consecutive National MG Meets (including a never before given perfect judging score) and it also beat out high dollar Ferraris for an award at the prestigious Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance. We recently won best paint at the invitation only “Frosty Wheels” indoor show held the first weekend of Jan 2006 with a black 1955 MG TF owned by Mr. Jim Stokes. This car was painted 4 or 5 years ago. In 2008 We won the AACA Bomgardner award for the Southeastern division with a 1954 Corvette than is also a NCRS top flight winner, Bloomington Gold certified,, Golden Spinner winner and was awarded the triple crown award. It is the holder of the very first (certificate 001) Diamond award given at the invitation only” Sans Pariel” Corvette only Concours d’ Elegance show held in conjunction with the Corvette Homecoming Show in Bowling Green, Ky.
I am self-taught in all aspects of design, fabrication, paint and body which we do in-house. We do install interior kits but, if a custom interior is needed we farm that out as we do not have the tools for that aspect of automobile restoration or creation. I have judged at the Ault Park Concours d’ Elegance and The Louisville Concours d’ Elegance where I was fortunate enough to judge the post war Bugatti class from which the “Best in Show “winner was chosen.
This is not a job but, a 52 year long PASSION.
We at Ross’ Restorations Inc. strive to produce the best quality available as attested by our numerous accolades. Let us build your dream ride or restore your dream car.
Ross’ Restorations, Inc.