Town of Marion Family Brings Antique Autos To
Skill In Restoring Cars Earns Group First Place In National Competition
TOWN OF MARION - The Girdauskas family is making a living by taking cars apart piece by piece and spending several years returning them to mint condition.
Their ability to make old things new again recently earned the family-owned and operated business first place in a national competition for their restoration of a 1932 Auburn 12-cylinder, four-door sedan.
When the Wausau owner brought the vehicle to Vintage Vehicles, Inc., it was showing its age. four years of work and research has taken the vehicle on an incredible trip back to a time when a car was custom-made and unique to its owner.
The Auburn was judged best in its class and best of the entire Auburn, Indiana show, which annually features hand-built, custom vehicles from around the country.
The six-member staff spent months taking the antique car apart until there was nothing but pieces and parts. Then there were months of painstaking work on each part of the car, including days spent restoring the stainless steel and aluminum trim.
The finish was sanded, polished and buffed before the custom paint was applied as the final step.
"This isn't like doing modern cars where you can get it over the counter," said Gil Girdauskas, who runs the shop with sons Bruce and Paul. "We're dealing with old materials. These cars are not like modern repair shops where they just throw a new fender on. We can't do that. We can't even buy any new parts."
The process is prolonged by the rarity of some parts. While doing portions of other projects for various companies, workers stay busy by doing six full restoration jobs at once.
It isn't all business, though. The Girdauskas have a personal collection of cars that have been recognized in other national contests. The family can be seen in the summer months driving their 1934 Packard V-12, a rare 1917 Locomobile Sportif or a 1928 Pierce Arrow rumble seat Coupe.
"The greatest joy in owning a classic or antique automobile after restoration is driving it," Gil Girdauskas said.
Bruce Girdauskas has been helping his father since they opened the business in 1976. He said the long hours are worth it when the 15,000 pieces come together, and owners view their big investments brought back to life.
"We see light at the end of the tunnel," he said. "It's a good feeling when we hand the keys to the owners when it is all done. We've got the disease. We love cars.
Vintage Vehicles Inc.
N-1940 20th Drive
Wautoma, Wisconsin 54982
Weekdays: 9 AM to 4 PM