Dave Brown Classic Rides has successful first year

Error message

  • Warning: array_merge(): Expected parameter 1 to be an array, bool given in _simpleads_render_ajax_template() (line 133 of /home/pdccourier/www/www/sites/all/modules/simpleads/includes/simpleads.helper.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to get property 'settings' of non-object in _simpleads_adgroup_settings() (line 343 of /home/pdccourier/www/www/sites/all/modules/simpleads/includes/simpleads.helper.inc).
  • Warning: array_merge(): Expected parameter 1 to be an array, bool given in _simpleads_render_ajax_template() (line 157 of /home/pdccourier/www/www/sites/all/modules/simpleads/includes/simpleads.helper.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type null in include() (line 24 of /home/pdccourier/www/www/sites/all/modules/simpleads/templates/simpleads_ajax_call.tpl.php).

This lightly-restored 1949 Buick Roadmaster has been sold and is set to be shipped to its owner in Slovakia. From left, Dave Brown, Sue Kane, Mick Pierce and George Heideman. (Photo submitted)

By Caroline Rosacker

Dave Brown Jr., relinquished his successful car dealership into the capable hands of his sons, David and Forest, and began to focus his attention on his new business venture, "Dave Brown Classic Rides," in January of 2020. The classic car showroom and offices are located in the former Chevrolet garage at 102 Schiller Street in Guttenberg. "The restoration is done right here by our highly-talented staff. These guys are artists!" Brown exclaimed.

Dave Brown Classic Rides employees include Sue Kane, office manager; Lynn "Hound Dog" Walke, auto body technician; George Heideman, head mechanic; Mick Pierce, light mechanical, garage maintenance and detailer. 

Since Jan. 1, 2021, the successful dealership has sold approximately 20 fully-restored vehicles. "We sell hardly any vehicles to local people with the exception of two this year," Brown reported. "Most of the restored classic rides are sold all across the United States and occasionally overseas."

Locating vehicles

"Most of our car purchases come from family members who recently lost a loved one. They want to sell their father's car, which he enjoyed, but hadn't driven in many years. The family has no interest in the vehicle so we take it into consideration," Brown explained. "Some need minor repairs, and are hot and sell quick. Some of them you wished you never laid eyes on," he laughed. 

Brown also advertises in The Telegraph Herald and the local shopping news with a cleverly worded ad: Cash for collector cars – no rusty crustys.

Brown advertises his restored classic cars on eBay and in Autabuy magazine. "We are really busy, if we advertised more than that we would be too busy," Brown commented. 

One of the most popular vehicles is the Mustang. "The Mustang came out in 1965 and is the most sought after vehicle. In order for a car to be considered a classic it must be mid-1970s or older. The sweet spot is 1950- 1970 – after that the desirability falls off," Brown noted. 

"The title needs to be perfect and match the VIN number, which can be a problem. Numbers get miss-copied or changed around creating a huge problem. Fortunately the Department of Transportation (DOT) has been wonderful to work with," said Kane. 

Selling and transporting vehicles

One of Brown's lightly-restored vehicles is set to travel overseas to Slovakia, near Russia. "We sold a 1949 Buick Roadmaster to an individual in Slovakia. We also sold a 1974 Cadillac Coupe de Ville to a gentleman in Australia. When we sell a car overseas the buyer is responsible for arranging their own shipping," said Brown. 

"We work with Reggie Willis, who has a transport company out of Denver, Colo. He transports vehicles for us all across the United States. His drivers will transport the vehicles to the port and the purchaser will arrange to have the car placed in a container and secured in place," Brown explained. 

Creating memories

Buying a classic car has very little to do with financial security. "We are selling memories; money has very little to do with it," Brown stressed. "They remember when they had a car like that and would pick up their buddies and take a cruise. They want to bring back those great memories," he added. 

"We do not finance the cars. Money exchange of hands is typically done through wire transfers, or the purchaser just writes a check," Kane noted.

A limited supply of classic cars and an increase in demand directly affects the price. "I have been dealing in classic cars all my life," Brown said. "We are not seeing a surge. You have to know what people want. Most of our customers are middle-age – 40 and up." 

Brown laughed,  "I don't like foreign cars! The parts are hard to find and expensive, and the people buying them tend to be eccentric. Give me a good old American car any day!"

"Visitors to the community are interested in the restored Chevy garage that was built in 1939, and the classic cars on the showroom floor," Kane stressed, "We welcome visitors, but we are not a museum. There are a lot of time-consuming details that are involved in this process. We get a lot of phone calls, e-mails and many technical questions."

Brown has some serious competition. He noted, "Duffy's Collectible Cars is one of my biggest competitors. Maple Motors, Vanguard Motors and American Dream Machines in Des Moines are also very well known." 

Aftermarket parts

Finding replacement parts for classic cars has created additional business opportunities. Brown told The Press, "We used to go to the junk yard when we needed a good replacement part. Now they make reproduction aftermarket parts that are pretty good quality." "Companies are making aftermarket radios that look like an AM radio but they are also FM. There are also CD players that are mounted out of site to make the vehicle look as authentic as possible," he added. 

The biggest hurdle slowing down Brown's business is bodywork. He shared, "A good paint job on a car costs no less than $10,000 dollars. Between the paint thinner, labor, sandpaper, paint and clear coat, which is equal in price per gallon, costs add up."

Vehicle interiors can be faded, stained, full of holes, or plain uncomfortable after years of wear and tear. Brown mentioned, "Even if we only need to fix one seat the whole interior frame work has to be sent in, because it is impossible to match. The upholsterer has to make sure all the inserts match up perfectly and the sewing is authentic. We work with many automotive quality artists out of Dubuque and the surrounding area." 

For additional information call (563) 252-2535 or (563) 880-0578 or online at www.davebrownclassicrides.com.

Rate this article: 
Average: 3.5 (4 votes)