‘Fun on wheels’ is motto of Central Classic CarsWritten by Sarah Ottney | Editor in Chief | firstname.lastname@example.org
Part showroom and part working garage, Central Classic Cars is run by three area car enthusiasts who like to have “fun on wheels.”
The shop, at 8444 Central Ave. in Sylvania, opened in January. Owners Chuck Putsch and John Coppus of Tiffin and Ken Wise of Sylvania have been friends for decades. They buy, sell, repair and restore classic cars and are in the process of expanding the business, adding a second building and more equipment for body work.The shop deals almost exclusively in classic cars and most of the vehicles are convertibles, Putsch said.
“Convertibles are fun things. Everybody loves them,” Putsch said. “You park this [restored turquoise 1955 Ford Thunderbird] outside and people will stop just to look at it. As soon as I have cars parked out in the grass on Central and the flags out front here and cars parked out front, it’s like a magnet. It brings people in. I have people who come in just to look around and see what we’re doing. So it’s a place to hang out.”
Also on display in the shop is a 1931 Studebaker Commander owned by Coppus’ grandfather and two 1958 BMW Isettas, tiny two-seaters resembling today’s smart cars. A 1965 Ford Econoline pickup truck is another vehicle that draws a lot of attention, Putsch said.
Putsch, who owns a 1961 Morgan, is a retired golf professional for whom cars have been a hobby for years.
“Cars were always a hobby, my interest away from golf, and I’ve done that forever,” Putsch said. “I have the opportunity to drive all sorts of cars in this business. It’s kind of a car guy’s dream.”
Coppus is president and owner of Coppus Motors in Tiffin, a third-generation family-owned business started by his grandfather in 1926 and the oldest operating Mercedes-Benz dealership in the country.
“The sales part is really fun. We get to meet a lot of really neat, interesting people,” Coppus said. “I think the business is kind of unique. I don’t think there are many around doing what we are doing.”
Wise is a partner at Findlay/Wise Wealth Management and an avid car collector.
“Ever since I could drive, I’ve loved cars,” Wise said. “I have cars that are slow and cars that are really fast. I’m attracted to their aesthetic quality. I like to look at them as much as I like driving them. You could hang them on a wall.”
Of the three owners, Wise is perhaps the most passionate about cars, Putsch said.
“He lives and breathes cars,” Putsch said. “It’s not even a hobby; cars are a passion for him.”
The shop is decorated with pennants, neon signs and other memorabilia.
“My grandfather was one of the first import dealers and, being a dealership as long as we have, we have a lot of memorabilia. So it was an opportunity for us to display it and it makes for a classy showroom,” Coppus said.
A series of hanging murals featuring race cars, classic cars and driving scenes cover the walls. Customers can order murals, including vintage photos or photos of their own vehicles, to decorate their home garages.
“It’s kind of that really friendly, ‘car-guy’ atmosphere where it’s a hangout more than it is a business you might say,” Putsch said. “People are excited when they come here. This is a place where they come to enjoy themselves and enjoy the whole experience. It’s a different atmosphere (than a dealership). We have unique things and it’s more like myself and another person getting together and talking cars and having a good time doing it. We want them to feel comfortable here, comfortable with us, so they’ll be a long-term customer and friend, so they can come by just to see what’s new and talk a little bit, talk cars.”Space will soon double after construction of a second 5,000-sqaure-foot building is complete. The new space will serve as a showroom, allowing the current space, now divided between a shop and a showroom, to be used exclusively as a shop.
Central Classic Cars recently acquired some shop equipment, including a paint booth, from Vintage Restoration, a nearby car and motorcycle restoration business.
Its owner, Tom Bibish, decided to return to teaching and limit his business to vintage motorcycles by appointment. For more information, contact him at (419) 205-0796 or visit Vintage Restoration on Facebook.
“It was a good business. We had a lot of fun, made some good money, met a lot of new people and supported local business, but it was just getting to be too much because I couldn’t find qualified help,” Bibish said. “We just had so much work and you don’t want to let quality suffer just to get the job done. Those guys there [at Central Classic Cars], they are good car guys and I think everything’s going to be fine. It worked out well for everyone and I feel real good about it.”
Putsch said his favorite part of the job is the search for cars.
“It’s like fishing; you just never know what you’re going to pull out,” Putsch said.
Talking to car enthusiasts is also enjoyable, Wise said.
“The best thing about cars is you just meet lots of wonderful people,” Wise said. “I’ve been all over the country going to car shows and you might not like the kind of cars I like, but there’s that common passion. That’s the one thing I can say about cars. It’s a wonderful social thing. You get to meet a lot of really, really neat people. We have a lot of fun and we’re just trying to do something that’s a little bit different. For me, it’s a hobby business. I’m not in it so much to make money as just to satisfy a fix. It’s just fun. We’re all having a blast.”
For more information, visit centralclassiccars.com.