November 28, 2023

TV shows ‘make it appear like it can be done in a week or two, and that is definitely not the case,’ says Gary Nicholls at Radical Restoration and Restomods

Car restoration is on the rise in Innisfil.

With more people looking to drive powerful and unique-looking cars, Radical Restoration and Restomods has been busy with a year-long waiting list.

“The build times are taking longer this past year as there are still issues finding all the parts needed, due to supply chain issues,” says Gary Nicholls, owner of the 23,000-square-foot facility at 2315 Industrial Park Rd.

The highest demand is for Resto-Mods, classic vehicles restored with modern parts and technology.

“The majority of our work is based on the classic North American muscle car, but we also build custom cars and trucks, and do a few exotics,” he adds

Nicholls finds that a lot of car shows give the wrong impression about how long it takes to properly restore classic cars.

“They make it appear like it can be done in a week or two, and that is definitely not the case. If you want top-notch work, it takes a lot of hours by very dedicated and skilled people,” he says. 

One of the few shops that has everything in-house, including interior trim, metal fabrication, mechanical, body, and paint, Radical Restoration and Restomods is well positioned to keep the business growing, Nicholls says.

“I think what makes us unique is that we have pretty much anything you need to upgrade, restore, build a classic car or truck, even if you have a crazy idea for a custom build,” he says. 

The shop has expanded over the years and now boasts an in-house engine building shop and a full chassis and suspension fabricating division.

“We now offer full custom chassis and suspension components to the general public, along with custom and race engines,” Nicholls says. 

The shop also has an auto parts business, and offers installation services for anything it sells. This includes searching for hard-to-find pieces, although parts must be ordered as needed as the strain on availability of parts still remains.

For Nicholls, his interest in cars came at an early age, starting with karts and motorcycles, and from watching the work of his father, a mechanic for Ford in Vancouver. Then he raced for a number of years before jumping into an apprenticeship for drive-line and hydraulic fluid power.

“I finished my apprenticeship in Toronto then opened my own shop building racing transmissions. And from there moved to building race cars,” he says. 

Nicholls says when he started building custom cars, he got so many inquiries about whether he would restore cars that he decided to start a car restoration business, and interest has grown from there.

The shop currently has more than 30 projects on the go. Nicholls says most customers are men over 50, but he noted women and families are becoming more and more involved with decisions on projects.

He says the people who work in the shop are very passionate about what they do, and it shows in the workmanship.

“We can make car dreams happen because we have a very skilled team here, and they do this type of work because they love it.”


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