At Studio 47, the mechanics are almost as spotless as the garage's shiny white floor, and the shop's tools are displayed like art. Enzo the dog, a mainstay at the shop, is named after Mr. Ferrari himself.
February 26, 2014
At Studio 47, the mechanics are almost as spotless as the garage's shiny white floor, and the shop's tools are displayed like art.
Enzo the dog, a mainstay at the shop, is named after Mr. Ferrari himself.
"We just love cars," said co-owner Craig Reed. "Working on the really mechanical stuff is always fascinating, no matter how many times I've done it."
Studio 47 isn't your ordinary repair shop. It specializes in repairing and restoring high-end cars, such as German-made Porsches and BMWs and Italy's Ferraris, Lamborghinis and Maseratis.
Business has been good enough that Studio 47 is in the middle of moving to the Far North Side from New Albany and doubling the shop's space. The company services about 100 cars a year, enough to generate about $450,000 in revenue.
Reed is a Ferrari man, and he has worked on Italian cars for more than 30 years. He said he has long considered expanding into German cars, but making it happen took a push from a woman with a Porsche.
Former customer Trina Allison asked Reed to help restore her 1980 Porsche last fall, and she never left. After the two finished the project, Allison stayed on as a partner, but she doesn't work on customer cars.
"There are a lot more Porsches and German cars that are local," said Allison, who is also membership chairwoman of the Mid-Ohio Region Porsche Club of America. "I thought, what a great opportunity to join the two worlds - the Italian and German automotive worlds."
It's a smart move, said Lindsay Brooke, senior editor of SAE International's Automotive Engineering International magazine.
Porsche Club of America's mid-Ohio chapter has almost 1,000 members, and Ferrari Club of America's Ohio chapter has about 200. Of course, not all owners are club members, but German cars tend to do better in Ohio's climate, Brooke said.
"Italian cars from the classic period have a bad reputation for being prone to rust," Brooke said. "These cars demand a lot of attention."
But that demand is what keeps niche shops such as Studio 47 open.
Even in Ohio's wet, cold-winter climate, which keeps these cars in garages nearly half of the year, it's not surprising that such a shop is doing well enough to expand, Brooke said. There might be fewer Italian cars in this region, but their owners probably are more frequent customers. Studio 47 usually handles at least a couple of major restorations each year which can run from $40,000 to $200,000.
"You'd be surprised that these shops exist in certain geographic areas," Brooke said. "But really, they do because they're kind of the last bastion of support for the owners of vehicles like this."
Studio 47's focus on German and Italian cars makes it unlike most other shops. Similar shops in central Ohio such as NJB Automotive and Evans Automotive Repair also service British, Asian or American brands.
The studio feel makes the shop a place for owner-enthusiasts to hang out, Reed said. He and Allison have an open-door policy; they invite customers to watch them work. The shop has three mechanics, including Reed.
"Places like (Studio 47) are often social scenes as much as mechanical shops. ... You really pick up a sense of enthusiasm in there," Brooke said. "And I think the people that work in shops like this are probably ones that race these cars on weekends, go to car shows and speak the language."
Not only do Reed and Allison race, but they also offer customers transportation to and from the racetrack, plus track-side maintenance and lunch.
They also cater to non-owner enthusiasts by keeping a project blog.
"I try to let customers be part of it, let them see what I'm doing, explain everything to them," Reed said. "And people who are into cars that maybe don't have one can still follow along."