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Business

December 30, 2012

Vintage cars are a calling for some

Oh, go ahead and tool about in your Camry. Not everyone, dear driver, aspires to be like you in your cookie-cutter car.

Give those other guys a ‘67 Corvette, a ‘49 Merc, a rocking ‘32 deuce coupe. For them, a car is as much testimony as transportation. Their mechanics understand that.

It’s a truism that they don’t make them like they used to. Today’s vehicles accelerate faster, stop better and have fewer breakdowns than earlier models. With air bags, backup cameras and cruise control, they’re safer, too.

OK. Point made. But people still like old cars, said Steve Moskowitz, executive director of the Antique Automobile Club of America. “There are a lot more people who are quietly collecting cars,” said Moskowitz, an Oldsmobile guy whose oldest car was built in 1903. “They’re not in any clubs at all.”

Some publications have estimated that more than 1 million people collect vintage vehicles, and “the number of collectors is not going down,” he said.

Some colleges and technical schools recognize the popularity of old cars and offer courses for aspiring mechanics. McPherson College in McPherson, Kan., for example, offers an auto-restoration curriculum that includes everything from rebuilding engines to learning the nuances of paint restoration.

Let us not forget guys like Mike Bland and Travis Owen, owners and operators of Village Garage & Custom in East Atlanta. They’re walking examples of on-the-job training.

Bland is a former salesman who’s worked on cars all his life. One day, he decided that he was spending so much time at the garage that he might as well get paid for being there.

“He quit his job,” said Owen, who learned the trade from older mechanics, “and started hanging out here.”

It’s hard not to hang out at the garage, which shares its parking lot with a fellow who restores and sells vintage bicycles. The one-story building has theater seats out front, perfect for loiterers.

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