"It was so much easier working on older cars,” he said. “Color matches were easier, and we could use lacquers instead of waterborne paint. We used the old guns and loved them. Bill and I were always combo techs, which means that we fixed the cars ourselves instead of relying on someone else to finish the job. Now, it takes 5--6 people to repair a vehicle, so that has been a big change in the industry."
Bellagio isn't going to miss all of the new technology that has made fixing cars a lot more expensive and difficult.
"These new cars are built for comfort and safety, which is nice for car owners but tougher for shops to stay in this industry,” he said. “Today's vehicles are full of computers, sensors and cameras, and they change every year, so I think I might be getting out at just the right time."
Bellagio's partner, who passed away in the early ‘90s, retired in 1982, and Bellagio kept running the shop for another 37 years. He looks forward to a retirement spent being with family, gardening and possibly visiting Italy.
"My health is still good, and I want to enjoy this time of my life because I’ve earned it, to be honest,” he said. “It's been a good run working in a great industry, so I can look back at it fondly.”