A Toledo couple's Crosley fire truck.
- Former body shop becomes retreat for car enthusiast
by Tahree Lane
Chuck Hymore's playground pulls together his favorite things.
The antique and classic cars are finally in one place. Dozens of vintage signs and license plates are thoughtfully hung. A former paint booth has become a stainless-steel kitchen.
The 40-foot-by-80-foot body shop in East Toledo that was originally Earl's Garage was in bad shape when he bought it almost four years ago. He retired last year from the Toledo Police Department where, for 16 years, he was a resource officer at Waite High School, his 1975 alma mater.
"I've always collected cars since I was about 16 years old," he says. "Over the years I'd buy them and fix them up, but I didn't have ample storage. Having them all under one roof is nice."
Imagination, building savvy, and untold hours of work created this homage to nostalgia circa 1940 to 1970.
"Once I got into it, I got ideas," he says. "One thing led to another."
The ambiance is easily altered by raising or lowering light levels in various areas, and by clicking one of 11 remotes that illuminate signs. He built one above the kitchen door: "Carol's Restaurant," named for his mother, Carol Leggett.
Part of the fun, of course, is hunting for old metal treasures. "I like the thrill of getting the deal."
At a Toledo junk yard entangled in saplings, he found 40-feet of neon signage in three 150-pound sections. He and a friend cut the trees down, then wrestled and strapped the pieces to the top of a commercial van. After the broken neon was repaired, they hauled them onto scaffolding and bolted them into place 13-feet high. The message: "Fabulous B-B-Q Ribs & Chicken."
Other signs are for Red Man tobacco, Gulf Supreme Motor Oil ($20 at a barn sale), Rexall Drugs (drove to Nashville for it), Pepsi-Cola, and taxi services. A candy machine holds treats for a nickel.
He's rebuilding a fairly new purchase: a 1948 Crosley fire truck, originally used inside factories and later purchased by amusement parks. It's 16 feet long and can hold about a dozen children. "It'll be a parade car," perhaps in a future East Toledo Christmas parade.
A pair of stained-glass windows from an Old West End home are near the front door. Upon entering the attractive brick-facade building that he spent two summers restoring is a vintage bicycle, a porch swing hanging on chains, and a marquee for the "Route 66 Drive In," that took him a month to build. Black stools edge a bar. A huge painting of a '50s-era diner at night was done by Clint White, of Toledo's police force.
Mr. Hymore gets a kick out of the wow-factor the place generates, especially among the under-30 crowd.
"When you're bad and you die, God sends you back as a mechanic with a lot of friends and relatives." A mechanic is sentenced to work on new, not vintage, cars.
Contact Tahree Lane at: tlane@... or 419-724-6075.
Courtesy Toledo Blade.