A need for room and a demand for classic car restorations resulted in a new full-time business venture for a Spring Grove, MN, auto repair shop.
Lee Auto Body purchased the mechanic building on East Main Street in Spring Grove, MN, from JC Nerstad, who had originally bought it from Al Otterness. And thus, Lee Auto Body – Classic Car and Truck Restoration was born in 2018.
“We’ve been doing more and more old car restorations, and we needed the room to do that,” Lee said. “Before, we would do the restorations when we had time, but now we’ve got one full-time person.”
Lee employed Dan Frye from Decorah, who is dedicated to restorations.
The idea was formulated at local Spring Grove Auction Company’s spring auction last year. Requests and conversations about restoring classic cars were a staple for Lee at the auction.
“It just kind of worked. JC (Nerstad) thought I was the perfect fit for that building,” Lee said. “People were talking to me at the auction about restorations. I thought it was a good fit to do it.”
Indeed it was. The business gained the space and customer list to make a go of restorations. Before the building came to Lee, Nerstad purchased and remodeled it, including new concrete, office space, garage doors and a new coat of paint.
“We’ve done a few restorations there so far. A 1962 Thunderbird convertible, 1965 Ford Mustang Fastback, 1967 Chevelle convertible and a 1970 Chevy Camaro,” he said. “We’re working on a 1968 Chevelle right now.”
The body work is done at the uptown building and the painting at Lee’s main location on West Main Street.
They have two rotisseries helpful for restoration work, as the car can be turned around multiple ways---even upside down.
“It saves time and makes it easier to work on,” Lee said.
The most commonly restored cars are muscle cars from the ‘60s and ‘70s. Many people bought the cars new and decide to restore them to their original look and color.
“It’s fun bringing them back. There [are] so many memories,” Lee said. “Some people got the cars when they were married or had kids. It’s pretty neat.”