How this local duo is keeping vintage cars from being a thing of the past
Longwood mechanics bring antique cars back to life
LONGWOOD, Fla. – If you thought vintage cars were a thing of the past, one Orlando-area man thinks you thought wrong.
Larry Gerry, of Longwood, has dedicated most of his life to vintage cars, using his hands to bring antique cars, particularly Rolls-Royces, back to life.
"They claim that this was used in Washington, D.C., for all the British officials," Gerry said about the 1958 long wheel base Rolls-Royce limousine he owns.
Gerry said it was for Queen Elizabeth during a visit to the nation's capital. He bought it 30 years ago and was able to restore it in six months.
"The paint was original and old and cracking, so I stripped it down to bare aluminum," Gerry said.
He said his hobby-turned-lifestyle began when he was in high school.
"My first car, I built from scratch when I was 17 years old. It was a '32 Ford. The girls liked riding in it," Gerry said jokingly.
Gerry has several Rolls-Royces at home, including a 1946 Bentley Speedster, which he completely restored with his own hands.
The now-retired Rolls-Royce and Bentley mechanic also has a unique white 1958 Silver Cloud.
"Built special for the lord high sheriff, of Belfast, Ireland, and he ordered it with limousine-style headlights," Gerry said.
At a restoration shop in Longwood, owner Bill Condron works on vintage British sports cars.
"This is a Daimler, which is a car that was only made for about three years. They made 2,500 of them in the early '60s. It's been completely regelled, coated, and then we sanded and blocked, sanded and blocked," Condron said.
Condron is currently restoring a 1959 Facel Vega, a car made famous by Hollywood stars like Dean Martin, Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr. and Ringo Starr.
So what's the average cost for a restoration of a vintage car like a Jaguar? It's not cheap.
According to the shop owner, it could cost anywhere from $40,000 to $65,000, plus the parts and materials. In the end, you could end up with a $75,000-$100,000 bill for a complete antique Jaguar restoration.
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