Its one of many cars he has restored at his College Point business, Pauleas Quick Lube, on...
By Cynthia Koons
The sign on Frenchy Lavoies garage is so faded the shop would be hardly noticeable without the shiny red 68 Raleigh Sport Camaro peering out of its doors.
Its one of many cars he has restored at his College Point business, Pauleas Quick Lube, on 130th Street.
In order to restore cars, I dont do it for the money, I do it for the love, he said.
Lavoie rebuilds most of the cars for himself. In his garage, he repairs cars and does oil changes, tune-ups and auto body work on both foreign and domestic vehicles, including a Volkswagen owned by this reporter.
Im good with my hands, he said. I learned by watching. If I see something done once, I can do it myself.
The first time he built a car was when he was 13, and the car was a 67 Firebird.
I was working on the car. I remember that was the day there was a big blackout, in 1973, he said.
From there he started repairing and rebuilding cars in Queens.
I got finessed when I started working for a dealer, he said. From working at a dealership, he went on to a GM school in Tarrytown, N.Y. where he placed fifth in his class of 28 students.
Back in 73 when electric ignitions came out, thats when the old-timers stepped out, he said.
Those old-timers were the mechanics who rebuilt cars from the 50s, 60s and 70s.
His skills date back to the 1920s.
One of his favorite cars that he reconstructed was a 1928 Ford Model A. Pictures of it hang in the hallway leading up to his office.
The best is when we drive them, he said.
The Ford has rumble seats that his two children ride in when they drive around Bay Terrace, where they live.
He has 12 or 13 restored cars, including Mustangs, Mercedes and Corvettes, that he keeps in garages in the area. Most of the cars he reconstructs are his own.
When you restore an antique car, you have to have an open checkbook, he said.
Lavoie invests his money and much of his time in his car collection.
Sometimes Ill be here until 11, 12, 1 oclock, he said. Thats the time that he says he can relax and enjoy the art of rebuilding cars.
Its a love that doesnt keep him away from his family or wife, either.
My wife is the backbone, he said. My wife is the one that normally looks at the cars and buys them.
Frenchy, whose real name is Paul, said the shops name is a combination of his and his wife Leas names.
He said his family drives some of the cars, and some of them are kept as an investment for the future to be given to his children after he is too old to build them anymore.
Old cars are what you call a retirement plan.
Reach reporter Cynthia Koons by e-mail at news@times
©2004 Community News Group
By submitting this comment, you agree to the following terms:
You agree that you, and not TimesLedger.com or its affiliates, are fully responsible for the content that you post. You agree not to post any abusive, obscene, vulgar, slanderous, hateful, threatening or sexually-oriented material or any material that may violate applicable law; doing so may lead to the removal of your post and to your being permanently banned from posting to the site. You grant to TimesLedger.com the royalty-free, irrevocable, perpetual and fully sublicensable license to use, reproduce, modify, adapt, publish, translate, create derivative works from, distribute, perform and display such content in whole or in part world-wide and to incorporate it in other works in any form, media or technology now known or later developed.