Classic Automotive Repair. One Great Mechanic

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1 Classic Automotive Repair One Great Mechanic By Tori Stafford Photos Stephen Wild For most people who own a classic vehicle, that vehicle is more than just a car it s a passion. Those who own and maintain vintage vehicles know they are only as good as the work that goes into them. Thus, these drivers go the extra mile to ensure their cars are serviced and maintained by a knowledgeable and trustworthy mechanic, which is often easier said than done. For those who own and love European classic vehicles, the challenge to find a mechanic that will even agree to work on your car let alone do that work properly is one of the biggest downsides. That is, until they meet Steve Hayes. Hayes, who has owned and operated Classic Automotive Repair since 2009, says working on European vehicles, specifically British classic cars, comes naturally to him. After all, the licensed motor technician received his licensing in the United Kingdom, where he was born and raised. With more than 23 years experience servicing vehicles, working on those that hail from Great Britain is something Hayes is not only incredibly well-versed in, it s something he prides himself on. As a classic British car enthusiast himself, Hayes is happy to use his broad knowledge base to help others who share his interest and passion. A skilled mechanic with expertise in a wide range of European vehicles, it is easy to see why the British variety are his particular specialty, as working on high-end British vehicles is where his career as a mechanic all began. As an apprentice in the UK, I dealt with Land Rover, Lotus, Alfa

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3 Romeo, MG, everything like that, Hayes explains. So I cut my teeth on them, so to speak. I worked my way up through different garages, working on absolutely everything in European cars. Hayes began his apprenticeship in 1989, and has been working with cars ever since. After working his way up through a diverse range of different garages each dedicated to working on different types of British and European vehicles Hayes became a service manager at a UK garage. It was there he realized he wasn t as happy working around vehicles as he was working on them. I decided that I wanted to still get my hands dirty, says Hayes. He then began working as a hands-on mechanic for Toyota, a position he held for 15 years. It s the one he still held during and after he and his wife, Nicole, immigrated to Canada in Hayes was just settling in when he realized something that would change his career path and the struggle those locally faced when seeking service for their classic European vehicles. I just noticed there were a lot of British cars here and I started up, Hayes says matter-of-factly. The rest, as they say, is history! One needs only to look to history to find the reason Hayes has found an everincreasing demand for the services he provides at Classic Automotive Repair. Considering about 500,000 MGB models alone were shipped to North America by the British manufacturer in the mid-to-late 60s, the number of British and European vehicles on the continent is vast. The aforementioned passion shared by those who restore, maintain and sometimes show British classic cars means those who can service these vehicles are in high demand a need even Hayes finds hard to fathom at times, he expresses. [The demand]

4 is really massive! Hayes says with animated excitement. And everybody, including me, is just blown away by how quick word has got around and what we re doing. Indeed, those avid in classic European car shows and education need only look at the workmanship provided at Classic Automotive Repair to recognize the skills Hayes possesses are unlike those of most mechanics in the country. But, as the humble Hayes expresses, it is all because it s what he knows best. Basically, we are kind of a one-stop shop. We can do anything from an oil change to a full restoration; we can do interiors and upholstery, paint work, part-sourcing... we do it all, Hayes says. People bring it in here; they can view the car as the progress comes along and we worry about getting everything done, things cleaned properly and repaired, sent away, whatever they need. For Hayes and his team, getting the work done right is the most important thing they can do for any customer, he explains. Many garages in Canada will flat out refuse to work on classic imported

5 vehicles. And often, those that will do service and repairs on European vehicles don t do so to an acceptable standard. This is something Hayes has encountered so often with new clients that his concern for the state of many classic European cars is incredibly high he has had customers bringing in vehicles that have recently passed safety inspections only to find massive issues with the car s body, and even holes in the floors. It s an issue he says is terrifying, as many of his new clients presenting him with such vehicles are entirely unaware of the issues. I ve seen cars come in that, if they were in an accident, God forbid, they would just fold up! he exclaims with sincere disbelief. It s very scary that there are garages out there that will do this kind of work and allow the cars out the door. This is one of the reasons I bring my customers in and show them the issues with their car, and what needs to be done so that they are getting to know their vehicle while I am getting to know their vehicle. With a Rolodex of part suppliers from the UK that can have parts to Hayes within a few days, Classic Automotive Repair is able to service, upgrade and rebuild classic European cars with the right parts, and in a timely manner. Moreover, Hayes is also working to share the love of classic British cars with a younger generation, so as to ensure there will be enthusiasts maintaining such vehicles for years to come. Sister company The Flying Bs is Hayes latest project: a company devoted to building state-of-the-art MGBs. Basically, it s custom builds. We re using existing MGBs, which come with the existing VIN plate and everything like that, but we re totally modernizing them, Hayes says. You re still getting the classic look of the car, but it s getting modern-day suspension, modern-day brake systems, fuel-injection engines, things like that. For Hayes, this is not only a means of marrying new technology and the aesthetic appeal of the classic MGB; building custom classic cars is something he truly loves much like restoring and maintaining the classic vehicles of his clientele, which keep his garage booked solid. I love it. It is nice to come to work and enjoy what I am doing, Hayes says. I like to share my knowledge of what can be done to improve a car with my customers. I always say the car is the customer s, so I work for them. They bring it in, I fix it and make it right for what they want and need, and they take it away happy. To me, that s my job. PREVIOUS PAGE Steve Hayes ABOVE Nicole Hayes and Son Classic Automotive Repair Glenvale Industrial Park Building 2, Unit Hwy. 38 Kingston

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