The history of Muscle Car Restorations is one of those great stories that you hear about where someone is simply doing something that they love and feel very passionate about and suddenly, without really intending to, they find that their passion has, in a sense, taken on a life of its own and has taken them to a place that they didn't know existed.
While John Balow has pretty much always been a car guy, he didn't start out in the car business. His day job from 1986 to 1997 was as an area manager for the Xerox corporation selling copiers and other office equipment. Like most of the rest of us, his car hobby was reserved for his spare time on nights and weekends. One thing he did have on his mind for a while was restoring a car way he wanted it done and in a way that it would stay restored. So that he could use it and enjoy it without it immediately beginning to deteriorate.
To get that restoration underway, John sold a 1963 Max Wedge Fury that he had purchased earlier in order to fund a building that would give him the room he needed to work. There was only so much that he could do in his garage. Being fond of the early sixties Mopar race cars, he found another '63 Fury and began to build a Max Wedge clone. The car tuned out beautifully and soon attracted the attention of another Mopar fan that just had to have it and he offered John more than he had imagined that it could be worth.
That buyer in turn took John's '63 to the Barrett-Jackson auction in January of 1988 where it sold for nearly three times what he had paid John for it which also set a new record sale price for that kind of car. With 2-3 months of that auction, John had six car owners contact him wanting him to restore their car the same way he did the one they saw at the auction.
Initially, John simply saw an opportunity to make some extra cash to fund his car hobby but his Xerox training also told him to set this thing up as a legitimate business so that it would be run properly. So, in the summer of 1988, John filed the appropriate paperwork with the government, hired a couple of guys from a local body shop to help out nights and weekends, and Muscle Car Restorations was born.
In those first years, John did little to promote MCR preferring rather to simply let it grow on its own. But word of mouth about his work spread quickly and half way into the second year, John had to add a second building. By the early `90s, some of the cars that were coming out of MCR started showing up in various car magazines and that only added to the shops national exposure and credibility. By 1997, John was forced to add a third building just to store all the cars and large parts that were waiting to be completed.
Of course well qualified and trained staff has been added as needed to meet the growing demand and John has firmly held on to MCR's original business strategy, which is to focus on delivering the best possible quality to each and every customer. The business motto remains, "Quality and craftsmanship is long remembered after the price is forgotten".
MCR's pursuit of excellence not only helped to spread their word of mouth referrals; it also attracted the attention of some magazine editors and various suppliers that John had come to know. This led to favorable relationships with major companies like Holley and Year One which in turn produced project cars like the Holley Road Runner. And the 13 magazine articles that came from that project along with the implied if not outright endorsement of MCR by the magazine world only further solidified MCR's national reputation for excellence.
As the demand for MCR's craftsmanship continued to increase, so did the diversity of their services and capabilities. The restoration services continue to improve, of course, but now they are also experts in custom metal fabrication, race chassis building, chassis dyno tuning, and custom carbon fiber parts. Whatever the project has needed, MCR has always found a way to meet that need with expert results.
One thing that will never change is the way that the entire staff at MCR works to earn and protect each customer's trust in them. John knew from the beginning that trust and integrity is everything in this kind of work and just as early customers trusted John with their dreams, today's clients have the entire staff looking out for them.
For an interesting virtual tour of MCR, take a look at these panorama photographs