The Acton dealership services very old cars
The business accounted for only about 20 of the dealership’s 16,142 repair tickets last year, but it generated significant revenue. While Acton charges $120 an hour for modern vehicles, its hourly rate for classic cars is $160.
Parts are one of the reasons for the higher rate of classic cars. Classic car parts typically offer lower margin opportunities than new car parts, which typically carry a 40% markup. The store discourages customers from purchasing their own parts for projects, charging a processing fee for those who do.
A recent repair bill was $65,000, Hoyt said.
One current project is a 1940 Ford pickup truck, purchased on eBay by one of Acton’s longtime customers. The truck came from Oregon with a nice body but a litany of flaws underneath, including a badly rusted frame and an engine that needs to be rebuilt. Hoyt estimates the repair bill will exceed $50,000.
The owner of a 1967 Mustang also spent $50,000 on a mechanical restoration. But it didn’t come in one payment.
“We bill the client at the end of each month for the time we’ve invested,” Hoyt said. This includes the time technicians spend researching replacement parts and researching repair procedures for decades-old vehicles.
Acton has no marketing budget for the vintage vehicle service, relying on word of mouth and customer base.
The store also offers winter storage for classic cars, a service that includes a tune-up and other maintenance that prepares vehicles for summer driving.
“My friends who are dealers never got it and thought it was absolutely stupid and crazy,” Hoyt said of the niche business. “And it’s good for them to think that way. We have a lot of fun with it.”
More importantly, he said, “Customers love it. It’s visible. It shows cool stuff to see. And it makes money.”