Where internal combustion meets art is where Kent Bain does business
If you ask Kent Bain what automobiles signify to him, he’ll say they are Â“both art and entertainment.Â” And since 1978, he has practiced what he preaches, specializing in the art and craft of vehicle restoration, preservation and care.
In fact, Automotive Restorations Inc., and its sister company, Vintage Racing Services Inc., have steadily grown over the years to offer a broad range of services aimed at privately owned cars and racing vehicles, with a staff of about 40 highly skilled, enthusiastic and motivated technicians.
Â“With Vintage, we ship racing cars all over the world,Â” Bain explains. Â“We sometimes deliver to California, Canada, and Mexico and sometimes to Europe. Most of these are historically significant vehicles. ItÂ’s the smaller of our two businesses.Â”
Vintage is devoted to the restoration and maintenance of vintage race cars that are driven hard on vintage racing circuits. Bain says his full-service operational model helps his clients by transporting race cars between events. At times, he loans his technicians to racing teams to act as their tech support. He says the company also maintains a stock of race cars that are ready to be rented, should the need arise.
BainÂ’s background as an industrial designer led him first to a career in automotive styling at General Motors, where he found little satisfaction and led him to found his own company with two partners. Today he is the sole remaining partner although one, Charles Webb, opted out as an owner and now serves in the role of chief technician.
Â“Our business plan didnÂ’t talk about the work weÂ’re doing today,Â” says Bain. Â“We just worked on a few cars that belonged to hobbyists. I never expected to do this for so long.Â”
Bain notes that his staff shares his own reverence for the machines on which they practice their art. The son of actor Conrad Bain (Maude. DiffÂ’rent Strokes), Bain says the companyÂ’s activities are devoted to automobiles as art because of all of the creative input that went into the crafting of those cars.
Â“ThereÂ’s a huge amount of activity that circles around these cars, whether itÂ’s a rally, where you take a Ferrari out, or a car show like the one weÂ’re doing in Greenwich this weekend,Â” adds Bain. Â“Our chief technician, Charley Webb, just got back from Lake Como in Italy where a show was held at VilladÂ’este Concorde dÂ’Elegance featuring 40 cars of unique historical value. We took a 1967 Ferrari 400 Superamerica there.Â”
Â“In our company, we have a unique combination of talent and skills that allows us to take care of every aspect of the business,Â” Bain adds. Â“We restore and rebuild cars. We can make repair parts, like fenders and interiors, from scratch. We locate hard-to-find parts. Our clients donÂ’t need to worry about transporting their vehicles because we handle that as well.Â”
Â“Quite a few of our customers are what youÂ’d call Â‘high-endÂ’ but not all,Â” says Bain. Â“In La Carrera Panamericana, which is a race from Guatemala to the Texas border, itÂ’s a full-speed blast through Mexico. ThereÂ’ll be some high-end racers in that but generally there are guys that just need to get there from one place to another. Quite a lot of our customers are guys that work on there cars also.Â”
Â“TheyÂ’re all living in California and theyÂ’re not car people,Â” he laughs. Â“IÂ’m the only one and I donÂ’t think they understand some of it. ItÂ’s okay. IÂ’m lucky.Â” Bain knows Jay Leno, who has a large car collection, and he is aware that Reggie Jackson has another car collection in Monterey.
The staff of Automotive Ressortations. Right: Company principal Ken Bain geared up for vintage racing.
For Bain, he doesnÂ’t leave the business in the showroom at night when he goes home.
Â“I drove to work today in a 1970 Porsche 914,Â” says Bain. Â“We always drive cars that weÂ’ve done work on, or when we are testing them. The best way to get your product in the view of the public is to drive them out there. WeÂ’re a very highly skilled operation. We have learned that cars have a reputation to live up to. Take the Model A Ford, a reliable and practical car, or a 1954 Volvo 444, although American cars from that era were more robust and reliable. We expected cars back then to last five to seven years, or even ten, but that was expecting quite a lot. Today, cars last 15 to 20 years and beyond that, and they can be restored order xanax their near-original condition to the enjoyment of their owners.Â”
Bain says his business has been driven by a great extent due to interest generated by Internet curiosity, where people from all walks of life and anywhere in the world can explore restoration of collectible automobiles as well as vintage race cars. He adds that automotive and vintage car restoration incorporates many elements, including a social content and art elements content. At the heart of it for him, though, is his passion for automobiles.
Â“I guess you could say itÂ’s the interest and the fascination for me,Â” he adds. Â“We got into this business because of our fascination with these machines that make us more capable than we alone could ever be. So passion is the right term.Â”
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