1927 Dodge Brothers Coupe: One Last Ride

This car was bought brand new by David Utela's mother. He learned to drive, even took his first drivers test, in this car. Then he put it on blocks and in his garage for roughly 30 years. Eventually he decided it was time to sell. So we here at Jim's Classic Garage got it running and driving, even got it sold. With the impending sale David wanted to drive it one last time. This story shows the living history behind the cars we service, restore, and sell here.

Each car has its own unique past and it’s always awesome to see in person.

                                                   Monthly newsletter to our followers

To our valued clients & Teaching Museum enthusiasts

As I write this letter, I am reminded that each of you who bring your classic cars to us know we have three goals in mind: The first and most fundamental goal for us is to keep your classic car serviced so that no matter what, it is kept running and on the road for years to come. The second goal is to provide excellent customer service. We strive to make sure every one of you who calls and comes through these garage doors is made to feel special. The third goal is to make sure our rates are competitive. Our rates just increased for the first time in five years.  There are two fundamental reasons for this: First, in order to facilitate a first-class service on any type of classic car, foreign or domestic, we must employ technicians who are well-versed in a multitude of cars. Second, we must have the space to do the required work. I am not sure if any of you have looked around lately, but rental rates for commercial spaces have gone up sharply in Gig Harbor.

Five years ago, we started with a small 3,000-square foot shop as a way for me to “fiddle” with the 13 collector cars I had amassed over the years. Today, we have three shops in over 12,000 square feet of warehouse space with 10 Employees, a Concierge Division and a Teaching Museum. As we grow we are constantly looking for ways to improve on what we do and how we do it.

Teaching Museum: This was an idea I entertained for many years. One morning when I had a moment of clarity (it does happen!), I drafted a three-page proposal to the Peninsula School District (PSD). From the proposal stage to when we began teaching was about 45 days. The students coming in this year are helping us just as much as we are helping them. Next year, we plan to have class twice a week on Tuesdays and Thursdays with roughly 10-15 students in each class.

Our goals are to help them with life skills, then move them on to restoring classic cars. I have attached a copy of our first curriculum. Each week, we will review the importance of our curriculum. Because we are a private contractor for the Peninsula School District, we can teach our own way using life lessons that should start at home and school yet are overlooked at both. Our methodology is a reflection of what the students are trying to tell us, not us cramming the teaching down their throats.

Case in point: We have one student who, when we first met, was meek, mild mannered and unsure of himself. Last week at 6:45 AM, he walked into the museum, looked me in the eyes and with an extremely firm handshake, said, “Good morning Jim, what are we going to do today?” That was a good day for me. I did the same and smiled back. This was huge for me. It meant he is listening. Not only that, but he wants to learn these life lessons I am referring to. I reiterate, these are things that schools all around the country should be teaching. We call it, “Life Lessons 101.”

Concierge division:  We have signed a lease for another 2,200 square feet of warehouse space that will be our “clean room.” We will do interior installations as well as work on our concierge cars (See attached concierge draft). If you are looking for someone to help you get better scores at car shows you have entered, please think of us.

Special occasion car rental program: This, too, is brand new, and something we feel will be beneficial for several reasons. First, we think some of our students are looking forward to learning about the business end of classic cars and can help advertise and run the business. Second, there is nothing better than driving from your wedding venue to your hotel in a classic car. Perhaps you are going to the prom and want to have picture sessions to remember the big day. One idea is to advertise with some of the yacht clubs who have outstations in Gig Harbor. We are still working out program details. What we do know is that if the Seattle Yacht Club were to have the availability to come to our public dock on the bay and be picked up in a 1922 Model A Touring Sedan, a 1940 Cadillac series 63, or a 1936 Pierce Arrow, the rental fee would be an insignificant part of their decision.

Closing out this update: We had more of an increase in business this year than in any of the past five years. We are constantly looking for indicators as to why certain cars are selling.  This time the uptick is clearly economy driven. Those we polled did not stop to think about why they would invest in a 1975 Caprice Classic convertible that sucks gas like a 10-ton truck. They just know they have always wanted one and today is the day they buy.

The biggest spike we have seen is in the restoration side of the business. It is not just the top one percenters restoring their cars, it is the entire spectrum of demographic groups. We are used to partial restorations where buyers give little thought of additional work. Today, however, we are seeing full restorations like we have never seen before. As the owner I would like to think it is all because of our reputation and work, but it is not, it is economy driven. And there is a consumer confidence we have not seen in a long time. Personally, I love it, and it feels good to see some confidence in the financial sector. No, it is not because of Donald Trump, although that is what he says. I would like to think he would be a good candidate for our “Life Lessons 101” class!

Please follow our ongoing updates on the Teaching Museum. We will be sending everyone subliminal messages on an ongoing basis to donate, donate, donate! We know it is not always easy to throw cash at a project like ours, so if you have a car (any age) that you think would be of benefit to us, please call me at 206-406-1313 to discuss it.


Jim Sullivan