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Detroit Lakes car restoration company aims for beauty

The Fat Lip Restorations crew includes (from left to right) Matt Dodrow, and co-owners Cody Pearson and Shane Hagerty. The shop almost quadrupled in size when it moved from Hawley to just west of Detroit Lakes in December. (Jason Adkins/DL Newspapers)

Restoring a classic car is like touching up a great work of art - plenty of sweat is needed to complete job, but at least you know what you have a template to follow.

Fat Lip Restorations on Highway 10 west of Detroit Lakes isn't a collision shop that does restoration work on the side - restoration is all the three-person shop does.

Owned by Shane Hagerty and Cody Pearson, Fat Lips opened in Hawley in 2005 and moved to Detroit Lakes in 2008.

The move was all about space.

"It was about a quarter of the size of this," Hagerty said of the old shop compared to the new location.

The owners' love of cars began when they were young, especially for Pearson.

"I've been doing it since I was 13," Pearson said.

Most lakes area residents probably have seen their most notable restoration. The Fat Lip crew restored a 1969 Camaro in front of Zorbaz in Detroit Lakes to be given away in September.

Enthusiasts, Hagerty said, bring in most of the cars. He said many of the cars are for Sunday drives and won't see rain or snow.

The work itself is a process. Hagerty said a typical restoration takes somewhere between 600 and 1200 hours to complete.

But that's just a baseline, Hagerty said. Every job is different and until the work is actually being done, it's hard to determine what needs to be replaced or how long it will take.

Fat Lip uses original parts if possible, but sometimes that's not easy to do. Luckily, Hagerty said, the Internet has made it easier to locate original or after-market parts.

Some parts, such as sheet metal, have to be fabricated in the shop. There are some models for which sheet metal is easier to find.

"Sheet metal is more plentiful for popular cars," Pearson said.

Because they have a small shop, Hagerty and Pearson, along with Matt Modrow, have to do a little bit of everything.

"Everybody has to work on all aspects of the vehicle," Hagerty said, although, there's one thing he admits to letting the other two do: painting.

Right now, Fat Lip has six cars in the shop, but would like to get that down to two or three, since it's such a long process.

"If you take a car apart, it takes up a lot of room," Pearson said.

Fat Lip Restorations is online at where there are several cars featured in photo galleries as work progresses. The shop can be reached by phone at 844-5331.