Byron York is a man with a passion for classic cars, and he manifests his love for the cars of yesteryear by restoring them for his friends and family.
"My father was a car dealer for 50 years, with his showroom in Newburgh, NY, and I always had the bug," he said. "When I was downsized after 26 years with J.C. Penney's I found my niche restoring cars. I'll be expanding soon to a commercial site where I'll be opening a shop.
"The first car I restored was a 1953 Oldsmobile I bought from a junkyard and had them deliver to my parents' house when I was 14," York recalled. "I sold that and bought a 1936 Chevy, coupe from a traveling saleslady, then there was a 1947 coupe."
York's most recent restorations have been a 1964 Rolls Royce Silver Cloud, a 1941 Packard Super 8 convertible sedan, a 1938 Ford "Woody" station wagon and a 1930 Packard. He is working on a drive shaft from a 1907 Locomobile, hickory wood wheels for a Model T, and his own car, a 1929 Packard convertible coupe. .
"Packard was a wonderful motor car company. It was considered a step above a Cadillac by many people, but after (World War II) when the contracts they expected fell through they went out of business," York explained.
When York restores cars, he likes to update them in ways that won't harm their "originally." Improving their performance on the road so they can keep up with traffic, changing them over to' I electronic ignition, all can be done without anything being seen that jeopardizes their appearance, he said.
A classic car is like a fine bottle of wine for York While they are a joy to collect and display, they cant be fully enjoyed until you take them out and open them up.
"Some people take a car and put it in a garage and don't touch it. They treat it like a piece of art," York said, "but my philosophy is that they're made to drive. Restore it, show it as many times as you can, win all the awards that you can, and then drive it and have fun"
When York was first downsized from Penneys, he brokered classic cars through a bank. The first car he brokered was a 1936 Mercedes 590K That was followed by a 1937 Bolls Royce P3 Henley Roadster, and that car led to a friendship with "famous Packard designer Ray Dietrich"
The two men bonded through their love for the classic luxury of car designs, and Dietrich gave York some of his sketchescherished possessions for this car aficionado.
York has an impressive collection of parts and tools for the cars he painstakingly restores. He also has a collection of books on maintenance of engines and electrical systems from 1913 to 1963.
"There's a little bit of everything in these books," he said, "from oddball brands to well known classics."
Along with his passion for perfection, York has a desire to pass his love of cars on to members of the next generation. When he has a car restored he likes to take it out for a test drive and often takes his 8-year-old son and his friends along.
He also passes on intriguing tidbits of knowledge, like the fact that the roofs of early woodies were covered with oilcloth made with a soy oil that served like today's vinyl.
Many of York's friends are rich and famous. As a result, he keeps the exact location of his worksite between himself and a select few.
"That guarantees them privacy and they know they can come here and not be in the spotlight," York said. "They can just be friends visiting a friend."
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