Shop Life Cool Rides

Using a Street Rod as a Marketing Tool

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Todd Fortier wanted a car to become the symbol of his collision shop, Todd’s Auto Body Inc. in Springfield, Ore. It needed to really stand out, be instantly recognizable, and something people normally wouldn’t see out on the road.

So he bought a ’32 Ford highboy, though when he put down $10,000 for it, what he initially got wasn’t anything resembling a car.

“I bought it in a basket; I bought it in a million pieces,” says Fortier.

The basket of parts were what was left of a highboy that used to be a street rod some 25 years prior. With that past life well behind it, Fortier set out to reshape the car from the ground up—piece by piece—into the perfect marketing tool.

He had to initially construct the vehicle to see what he might be missing (like the hood side panels he had to buy) and how things lined up, before tearing it all apart again to paint every single piece.

“We just painted it top to bottom,” says Fortier.

Photo courtesy Todd Fortier

He used a solvent-based PPG paint with a 1957 Chevy turquoise color; it’s the same color in his staff’s uniforms, on the shop’s sign, and on just about every piece of branding for the company.

Piecing the car together once painted meant using a lot of aftermarket pieces. Surprisingly, it only took just three months and $22,000 to finish the work.

Fortier admits that not a lot of what they put in is special. He calls the engine a “baby motor,” a brand-new Chevrolet 350ci crate engine that makes 290 horsepower. He did put chrome and polished aluminum on it, but says it’s really just a stock engine.

What he was really inclined to do was maintain the look of the car, as that was the point of buying it. To do that he installed a complete drum brake system.

“That’s what it was built with many years ago,” says Fortier.

He felt that being able to look through the wheel to see the drum made it more period correct.

The looks do the job they’re meant to do. The car is taken to business expos and the local mall for thousands of people to see it.

“It’s worked for us for five years,” says Fortier. “When we decided to brand ourselves six or seven years ago, we went full-on with these colors. We had black and turquoise before it was cool.”

The color scheme has worked.

“The area I live in in Oregon, I drive around and everyone knows who I am and where it’s from,” Fortier says.

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