November '15

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106 The Shop November 2015 Shop ToolS & equipmenT D o you ever wonder about those old shops? You know, the ones that have been there forever. The cars parked out front slowly change over time, but there's nothing modern or fancy about the building. No neon; no shiny chrome trim on the sign. Heck, the sign may be one breeze away from blowing over. But go down that gravel driveway, take a look inside that metal building and prepare to be blown away by the pristine treasures inside—all of them in various stages of restoration. A Pantera body on a rotisserie, a 1967 Chevelle SS fresh out of body and paint, a flawless 1955 Bel Air ready to be fired up after a two-year restoration. Twenty years ago, Route 521 in Indian Land, South Carolina was a sleepy four- lane highway. Today it's a bustling corridor of businesses, subdivisions and shopping centers. But one thing that hasn't changed is that dull light-green metal building nestled in the middle of all the new construction. Butch Cook opened Vintage Cars 28 years ago with just a few hand tools and a big pile of dreams fueled by a pure passion for muscle cars. In all those years, Cook and his crew have won some of the top awards in automotive restorations, including top honors at AACA shows. While Vintage Cars is known for its res- torations, it also does a good deal of custom work. In fact, Cook says custom work is the most profitable work the shop does—even more so than performance upgrades, like fuel injection retrofits. After 28 years, Cook's collection of tools and equipment has grown exponentially. He is a down-home individual who deals in common sense. When you ask a question, be prepared, because you'll get a straight answer; there's no sugarcoating at Vintage Cars. I first met Butch 15 years ago; as his shop was the only place I could find that would do quality sandblasting (that is, sandblasting parts without warping the metal). Southern Fried C o m m o n S e n S e Shop equipment advice from a seasoned pro. By JoAnn Bortles 106 The Shop November 2015 Older, used equipment can get the job done the right way and Cook has a wide array of equipment he bought pre-owned. This frame machine is being used to straighten up this crashed Chev- elle.

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