Muscle Car Restorations - History
John Balow and his restored 70 Superbird
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
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
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
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
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