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The classic family business

Classic's Auto Repair & Restoration is a family business that not only fixes new automobiles, but repairs and restores old classics. Front row: (from left) Collin, Brittin and Connor Modrow. Back row: (from left) Bryant, Jennifer and Matt Mudrow.

Growing up, Matt Modrow always had a thing for old beauties.

"I always loved classic cars," he said adding, "They're never the same old thing."

But knowing what rattled his chain, Modrow learned standard auto repair.

Knowing what really turned his crank, he also learned to tinker -- teaching himself the ins and outs of old automobiles along the way.

Then the die-hard Ford man met Jennifer -- the daughter of a Chevy dealer.

Sparks flew, and they joined the great American love affair with the automobile.

They began their business, called Classics ... an auto repair shop that also specializes in restoring classic cars.

And while they built the business, they built their family at the same time.

Space got tight, and the kids got to stay; the business got moved to its new location on Highway 59 south, right on the edge of town.

Modrow says that's been a great location, as business has been good for both new car repair and old car restoration.

So good, in fact, that he's building two new bays.

He says the market here is good for the classics because there are so few mechanics that'll touch them.

"Most guys don't know what to do with them because they don't do it every day," Modrow said.

Rolling up his sleeves and taking the time to solve each old puzzle is what has classic car enthusiasts calling Modrow for help ... that and his imagination.

"Right now I'm building a '58 Chevy crew cab with four doors," he said proudly, "so there's a lot of drawing and planning that goes into some of these."

Drawing, planning and searching.

Old parts aren't always easy to come by, but the Modrows find them.

"They're out there - either on the internet or in the junkyard," he said, "Worst case scenario is that we have to build them."

The Classic's owners have also carved out a niche by their fairly rare techniques.

"We only do old-school auto repair with metal finishes," Modrow explains, "There's a difference between the way we do stuff and how the collision shops in town do things. They like to replace parts, we like to fix them."

Modrow's "old school" ways has earned him some extended family members.

He sees them every Wednesday night on Cruise Night in Detroit Lakes, when all the classic cars are paraded down by the beachfront.

"I would say 90 percent of our customers are really like family," said Matt Modrow, "We talk to them all the time; we're not just people they call when they need something fixed -- some of the older ones even bring things for the kids when they come."

Classic's isn't just income for the Modrows --  it's the family's hub.

"It's been so great for us," said Jennifer Modrow, who mans the office and even helps with the occasional oil change or buffing.

"We bring our kids out here and we can all just be together; we spend a lot of time out here."

And the Modrows have plenty of help from their kids -- four boys means a lot of extra hands and curious minds.

"They do a lot of cleaning and fetching tools," said Matt Modrow, "They know what the tools are, so if I need something, they can get it for me so that I don't have to get out from underneath the car. That's part of the process of learning it, though, is knowing what to use to fix it."

For more information on Classic's Auto Repair and Restoration, call 218-847-9100.