The purr of an engine, the sweet sound of success at a shop in Stowe.
Bill Cooke and Pierce Reid found their sweet spot just off the beaten path. Their stories start in very different places, but they share the same specialties-- Rolls Royce and Bentley motor cars.
Cooke grew up working in his dad's garage in Massachusetts, igniting his adoration for the vintage rides.
"All though high school and college I worked in the garage cleaning parts and learning my way around," he said.
And he got pretty good at it.
The barn where they work has always been in the Reid family, but it went from housing horses to horsepower as the passion for motor cars roared on.
"It wasn't really a major risk. It came with a good business plan, good customers and it's just been very successful ever since," Reid said.
Cooke and Reid teamed up in 2005 at the Vintage Garage, but these cars have a rich history that spans two centuries. Their specialty is pre-World War II models. The Rolls Royce is the ultimate status symbol. The Bentley is seen as the speedier, sportier little brother. These cars carry clout and a pretty big price tag. Today they'd go for about $250,000. But these mechanics are not intimidated.
"When I see an engine that comes in for work, it's just a dirt old engine that needs work," Cooke said.
"The car itself has a chassis, an engine a few axles and a radiator. That's only seven things. Anyone can restore just seven things. We take the elephant one bite at a time," Reid said.
Bentley and Rolls Royce have similar appeal, but under the hood it's a whole different story. Oftentimes this team is rebuilding engines. Some parts you can still order, others are handmade right in the shop. Their expertise comes from blueprints and experience. But excellence takes time.
"Not only is the car in here for more than a year, but right now it can take 6 to 12 months just to get a slot open," Reid said.
Their customer base spans the globe
"This engine is from New Hampshire, this one is going in the car back to Germany, this one is going to Connecticut," Cooke said.
But they are happy to call Vermont home.
"It's work that's part art, part precision and part recycling," Reid said. "It's a great fit for Vermont."
"During the fall we open the doors and we have turkey, black bear and deer that walk up and down the driveway," Cooke said. "The view out the front isn't all that bad either."
And in the winter they get a lot of work done locked in the garage, restoring history one piece at a time.
And in case you are wondering, they both have the same favorite car: the Rolls Royce Spirit Phantom.
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