Revving up work on classic cars
By Leslie Benson
Joe Hauge Sr. of Aurora is one of those rare classic car enthusiasts who drives his restored ride, a 1966 Volkswagen Beetle, every day, even during Chicago's frigid winter months.
Nicknamed "The Flying Pig," the Beetle gets great gas mileage, Hauge says, but he admits it produces little to no heat.
"I keep warm with heavy coats and gloves, and I use an ice scraper for the inside of the windows," he says. "That's just part of the fun!"
Hauge, who's treasurer of the Harsh Winters Volkswagen Club in Chicagoland, has invested more than $33,000 in his VWs, which also include a 1957 Oval Beetle, a 1958 Volkswagen Bus and a 1964 Squareback.
"VWs are in my blood," he says. "My first car was a 1971 Super Beetle."
For local car clubs, winter is off-season for outdoor shows and events so it's the perfect time to delve into short-term restoration projects. Hauge says he's upgrading his VW Bus so he can drive it daily while having a new, faster engine installed in the '66 Beetle.
For much of his restoration work, Hauge relies on Tony Kasper, founder of Vintage Works Auto Body in Marengo. Hauge says he only spent $1,000 on The Flying Pig, but Kasper says repairs to classic cars typically range from $10,000 to $20,000 per vehicle.
West Peterson, editor in chief of Antique Automobile, a trade magazine, suggests hiring a shop to do minor repairs before trusting them with bigger jobs. "You get what you pay for, and to find an honest auto shop is almost priceless," Peterson says.
Angie's List member Paul Jenkins says he trusts highly rated Arman's Import Auto Service in Chicago to work on his vintage Ferraris and Porsches.
"I have been a 'car guy' for 30 years, but I have never come across a mechanic as good, honest and reasonable as Arman [Daniel, owner]," the Chicago resident says.
"I have even had friends ship cars in from Ohio and Colorado, just so Arman could service them."
Jenkins prefers collecting rather than repairing classic cars, such as his Land Rover 110. "It was built using all 2007 mechanicals under a 1967 Land Rover body, so it looks as if I'm heading out in the most primitive thing on the road," Jenkins says.
"But in reality, it has heated leather seats, air conditioning and a new turbo diesel motor. It's perfect for the days when Mother Nature punishes Chicago."
Jenkins declined to specify how much he's spent on his custom cars, but he says the trick is never to buy a car as an investment, hoping to increase its value.
"Enjoy what you buy, and buy the best you can afford," he says. "If you care for the car properly and buy well initially, you'll not lose money.