Our Story… Why its Our Passion
My parents moved to Naples, FL from South America in 1958. Almost every summer that I can remember growing up, we returned to the “homeland” to see family and simply enjoy the lifestyle and culture. In 1974, Dad bought a brand new FJ40 Toyota Land Cruiser. He needed it to go back and forth to his cattle ranch that was 3 hours from the city. The road at that time was all unpaved except for maybe the first 1/2 hour of the trip.
We used to go almost every other weekend to the ranch to get away from the big city and of course monitor day to day operations at the ranch. I remember the trips to and from the ranch quite clearly, as the off road voyage was intense. I recall, even as a kid, being amazed that the FJ40 would continuously, trip after trip, withstand the treacherous roads and simply just hold up trip after trip, year after year. Within the last 5 miles of the ranch, the roads REALLY got bad. There was no longer any lime rock, instead only mud and rocks. That Toyota could navigate just about anything and made it through what I thought were impassable spots on many occasions.
My father died in August of 2015. After his death, in assessing what we were going to do with his personal belongings, the Land Cruiser sat in the garage. It certainly showed the years of abuse my father put it through. In the time he owned it, he literally rolled it down an embankment, flipping it several times, hit a mule at about 30 m.p.h and also hit a cow at about the same speed on another occasion. Despite all that, my Dad was fortunate enough to never get hurt too badly. But, I do recall looking at the car and being a little grateful that The FJ40 sort of “took care” of Dad on many of those accidents. Dad showed his loyalty and appreciation back to the car by never replacing it and instead fixing it each and every time. Even after his death, we still drove the car to the ranch on several occasions and it continues to this day to be the workhorse it always has been.
I was inspired to fix up Dad’s car one day, because I knew Dad would have wanted that. When exploring the options to get it restored, I noticed how much demand there was in the market place, not only in South America, but in the U.S. as well, for this car. Fortunately, the pieces of the puzzle came together. With me having a full time business in the U.S., I was not able to be hands on in another country all day, every day, to monitor the repairs to be made to Dad’s car.
Fortunately, we have a long time friend of the family who was actually born and raised to be a mechanic. He literally was left, as a baby, on the doorsteps of “Mechanicsville” if you will. Mechanicsville is my pet name for about 10 city blocks that is the central hub for everything and anything to do with automobiles in my homeland. You can find mechanics who can almost pull a motor right on the side of the street, if he had to, and just about complete any repair without the need of a full garage. These mechanics are old school and have learned from years and years of experience and on the job training.
This mechanic and old family friend is now our head of operations & restorations. Not only is he knowledgeable in every aspect of car repair and restoration, he also knows just about everyone and anyone who has ever worked on a car in that city of over 3,000,000 people. He oversees all restoration operations along with myself during my frequent visits. We only use the best of the best at their craft to complete all aspects of the restoration process. Having a full time presence there each and every day, all the work is carefully monitored to make sure the car is restored to the best quality possible. Because labor is significantly cheaper there then here in the U.S., and because the mechanics have been working on these cars for years, we get the best knowledge and quality at an affordable price.