You know you are at the right place when you pull into the drive and see tail fins and other restoration projects in various stages.Living and working in Detroit we are a little spoiled at the automotive history that Detroit has. Today we bring you one of the finer restoration shops you never heard of in Metro Detroit Brothers Custom Automotive.
As you enter the shop, there are vintage hot rod engines on stands, flathead Ford parts, and chrome everywhere. The smell of metal and grease are in the air. We are greeted by Autumn the shop manager. Autumn is really the one who makes the shop work. With a great smile and an awesome welcome. “Hi, welcome to Brothers Custom!”
The shop is actually two shops in one: storage for long term projects with an area for completed projects along with another large (10 – 12 bay) shop area where the magic happens. Between the two of them, I can see a Model A Ford, various hot rods and a Rolls Royce, I am standing in an a automotive flashback.
I ask about the fully dressed engine on the stand “Bill has become the go to guy in the area to rebuild and restore flathead Ford engines,” she explains. “Well, I didn’t like working on them at first but now I truly enjoy them,” says Bill Jagenow, owner and rebuilder extraordinaire.
As Bill comes around the corner and introduces himself, I am reminded of a 50’s garage. Bill is wearing his trademark vintage style cap and mechanic shirt with his company logo on it.
Standing in front of his custom 56 Lincoln Premiere complete with a major lowering job & huge 4” white walls, Bill says, “ I love to take something that everyone forgot about and turn it into something like this. I have three other Lincoln’s that need this kind of attention. Somehow I have started collecting them!” he laughs.
Ask how he got into the restoration game: “I joined the Navy right after high school. I spent eight years as a Navy SeaBee traveling and building around the world. I got tired of being limited on what I could earn by what my rank was, so I decided to leave.
After I got out I worked for a Tier 1 automotive supplier. I was making good money and traveling, even had a company car but then the recession hit, and I was out of work.
I was bouncing around living off my severance and doing some construction work with a SeaBee friend when I realized I always had one or two cars in my garage that customers were paying me to restore, so I said maybe now is the time. So my brother and I started Brothers Custom Automotive.”
Brothers Custom Automotive have been in their current building(s) 8 years now employing 6 people. “We do a little of everything,” Bill says “From installing 3-point seat belts on a 50 Chevy to a complete teardown and restoration of a 1960’s Mercedes 190SL roadster. We do not do a lot of muscle cars, a few, but I prefer the challenges of some of the older cars, like this 1920 Chevy 490 that still has the original paint.”
Standing over nothing but a frame and mock up motor, Bill says “Autumn and I were involved in a wreck in this one. It got hurt pretty bad, and so did we. But by February this will be in the Detroit Autorama at COBO Hall. I love challenges like this. From steel chassis to complete product that is good enough for the best of the best.”
Sitting in the office talking with Bill about Jobbie Crew/Jobbie Nooner, and other Detroit topics, he says: “Its funny that all the males in my family have had a history of working on ships of the Great Lakes from WLJ the 1st (in 1864), through to me. Like my Dad and all of the Mmale members of my family, I even worked for a time on the J.W. Westcott mail boat delivery for a while. See our article on the Westcott here I have no idea how I ended up a mechanic instead of a ship captain!”
From sheet metal to engine overhauls, gas tanks to custom paint jobs, Brothers Custom Automotive, is your place. Like a stroll through the past, every day is a mini “Woodward Dream Cruise,” in this shop. We can’t wait to see him at Autorama this February 26th through the 28th!
Brothers Custom Automotive
317 Park Drive
Troy, MI 48083