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May 15, 2015

Faces of Fauquier: Cars consume his free time

A civil engineer, Matt Innocenzi does his own body work and painting to restore classics, including this 1969 Pontiac GTO.
Restoring these cars takes me back to the families who owned them. I find relics of the past in these cars. Often I find toys and coins hidden in the seats and even assemblyman’s names written on parts. I rescue these pieces of history, these cars, from junkyards and restore them. I like to find the history of the car and track down the car’s original owner.
By .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
Staff Journalist
He restores classic cars to their former glory.

Matt Innocenzi takes pride in the work and his business, Camelot Classic Cars.

“I rescue these pieces of history, these cars, from junkyards and restore them. I like to find the history of the car and track down the car’s original owner,” Mr. Innocenzi said.

His collection ranges from a 1946 Chevrolet Fleetmaster to his favorite, a 1969 Pontiac GTO.

“When I got it, I felt complete,” he said of the classic “muscle car.”

Mr. Innocenzi chauffers the cars for local weddings, anniversaries and use on film sets.

“Restoring these cars takes me back to the families who owned them. I find relics of the past in these cars. Often I find toys and coins hidden in the seats and even assemblyman’s names written on parts,” he said.

Mr. Innocenzi has lived in Fauquier for 16 years.

“I’ve always had romanticism with the countryside, and I wanted to escape the urban sprawl of New Jersey.”

• Age

• Home
New Baltimore

• Work
Day job: Civil Engineer with WDP & Associates Consulting Engineering Firm in Manassas for 16 years. Building consulting, repair and diagnostics.

Owner of Camelot Classic Cars since January 2014. Restoration and for-hire use of classic automobiles for weddings and anniversaries. His cars are also used for television shows including Investigation Discovery’s television show, “House of Horrors.”

He specifically works with General Motors cars: Chevrolet, Pontiac, Oldsmobile, Buick and Cadillac. He focuses on restoring cars from the 1950s and 1960s but he owns cars from the 1940s to 1969.

He does all the body work and painting, but outsources interior and engine work.

• Why do you do the job?
I first started working on cars when I got my first car in 1992 in high school. My cousin was a master mechanic and I learned from him.

I’m infatuated with the machinery. What this process does is it makes me look back to the assemblymen’s process and it gives me an appreciation for their skills and the speed and efficiency at which they could do it.

Restoring these cars takes me back to the families who owned them. I find relics of the past in these cars. Often I find toys and coins hidden in the seats and even assemblyman’s names written on parts. I rescue these pieces of history, these cars, from junkyards and restore them. I like to find the history of the car and track down the car’s original owner.

• Family
Wife, Kelly; son, Luca, and daughter, Lena.

• Education
Bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from Virginia Tech, 1997. Master’s in civil engineering from Virginia Tech, 1999.

My dream job was to work at General Motors in mechanical engineering designing motors, but it didn’t click.

• Civic and/or church involvement
Member of St. John the Evangelist Catholic Church.

• How long have you lived in Fauquier?
16 years.

• Why do you live here?
I like the small town feel, the community. It’s not so built up like Manhattan, but not so rural where you have to drive 30 miles to the grocery store. I was raised in Trenton, New Jersey. I’ve always had romanticism with the countryside and I wanted to escape the urban sprawl of New Jersey.

• How do you describe this county?
Your common Main Street town, but one struggling with controlled growth. There are a lot of people who want to preserve, but it’s definitely growing. It still maintains a rural atmosphere, but it’s threatened by the inevitable growth. It’s a close-knit community that I love.

• What would you change about Fauquier?
Growth is inevitable and good, but there is no way to grow without building more homes and highways. It’s a double-edged sword. I wish I didn’t see farms sold and turned into houses or see byways turned into thoroughfares. I think we need to celebrate our economy here.

• What do you do for fun?
Work on my cars. That’s about it.

• What’s your favorite place in Fauquier?
I think the county offers a wide spectrum of favorite places. I wouldn’t be able to pick just one.

• What will Fauquier be like in 10 years?
I imagine growth with 20 to 25 percent more traffic, population, demands, restaurants, banks and dealerships. But in other parts of the county, I don’t see much change.

• Favorite TV show?
“Mad Men”

• Favorite movie?
“The Godfather”

• Favorite book?
“The Godfather” by Mario Puzo.

• Favorite vacation spot?
Anywhere in Tennessee. I’ve been all over, and I love every part.

• Favorite food?
I’ll eat anything. Steak from Wilson’s Meat in Catlett.

• What is the best advice you have ever received? From whom?
I’m going to quote “The Godfather” because there are so many good life lessons in that movie. “It’s not personal, Sonny. It’s strictly business.” In life you have to keep business and your personal life separate and not intermingle the two. People who do that have incredible talent and leadership.

• Who’s your hero and why?
My cousin, Rocky. I attribute my passion and talents to him. My father and siblings didn’t have any mechanical skills. He took me under his wing and he cultivated those mechanical skills in me.

• What would you do if you won $1 million in the lottery?
I would buy a junkyard. I know, it’s crazy. And set out to restore all the antique vehicles in it.

>> Suggest a “Faces of Fauquier” profile subject

Do you know someone who lives in Fauquier County you would like to see in Faces of Fauquier? E-mail Cassandra Brown at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or Editor Lou Emerson at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

Previous Faces of Fauquier:

• Wood transformed in the hands of Edward Fox.

• Earl Arrington serves printing customers and his community.

• Michael Hughes wears music, threater and equestrian hats.

• Store in Goldvein part of Susan Leopold’s family legacy.

• County native Maggi MacQuilliam devoted to the great outdoors.

• Health care for the needy Rob Marino’s mission.

• Daphne Latimore focuses on human capital.

• Horses extend Louise Summers’ work as teacher.

• As volunteer coach, Jeff Budd develops young wrestlers.

• Fraces Allshouse’s jobs focus on preservation.

• Jessica Smolinski’s book introduces children to Old Town Warrenton.

• Margaret Rice’s job all about fitness and fun in Warrenton.

• Robert Sturgeon has built his 70-employee businesses in Bealeton from scratch.

• 4-H leader Zach Woodward relishes the lessons of farming.

• Hospital auxiliary volunteer Alison Lee also earned fame in drag racing circles.

• Highland School veteran staff member Lise Hicklin always wanted to teach.

• As 9-1-1 dispatcher, Kateland Rich works to maintain calm during crisis.

• Chaplain Liz Danielsen finds a giving community.

• 9-1-1 response in Rodney Woodward’s bloodline.

• Fast talk a tool of the trade for auctioneer Kathy Shumate.

• Sam Poles takes care of varmits.

• Diane King mentors student performers at Fresta Valley Christian School.

• Lewis F. Lee Jr. followed his father into taxidermy business.

• Edward Payne returns to Orlean and to photography with passion.

• Janet Metzger’s Old Town Warrenton shop a hub of creativity.

• Pablo Teodoro bakes to build community.

• Community trails have become passion for retired VDOT engineer Bob Moore.

• Teresa Reynolds makes transition from butcher to museum director.

• After working in New York and Italy, Christine Fox moved home to open fashion boutique 25 years ago.

• Steve Lewis develops hunting reality show on Dish Network.

• Julia Trumbo grew up in the family grocery business.

• Tax preparer Renée Turner enjoys owning a business in Old Town Warrenton.

• ICU staff Carol Jones values patients’ trust.

• Wilson Sanabria grew up working in his family’s Warrenton restaurant and learning to box.

• One-man band Peter Fakoury quit 9-to-5 to learn from children.

• Liberty graduate Brittany Aubrey works in the smile business.

• Walmart cashier Lulu Baer loves to play violin and several community roles.

• In Sandra Alm, SPCA dogs have a loyal companion.

• St. James’ Episcopal new Rector Ben Maas appreciates community’s embrace

• Bicycles dominate work and play for Brian Larson.

• Teaching music therapy combines Abigail Newman’s passions.

• Brenda Rich leads volunteers who organize and run the Fauquier County Fair.

• 1st Sgt. Greg Harris stresses empathy in his job as a supervisor at the county detention center.

• Chuck Tippett challenges the “rich guy” stereotype about pilots.

• County government employee Surja Tamang previously worked as a Mt. Everest sherpa.

• Woody Isaac found his calling as a chef at age 16.

• Horses take Tommy Lee Jones all over the county.

• Retired nurse Angela Neal continues to volunteer in hospital ER.

• Gilmer Lee really knows high school sports in Fauquier.

• Stage remains central to Tim Bambara’s life journey.

• Bus driver Melissa Strain’s weekend job all about “fun.”

• Bartender Taylor Edgar has a pretty good standup routine.

• A nomad childhood led Paul Schmeling to start a moving company.

• Adam Lynch’s family owns café with local food focus and a special name.

• Patricia McMahon Rice turns passion for art into her livelihood.

• Cindy D’Ambro works as “director of first impressions” at LFCC.

• Ginger Hilleary leads local literacy organization.

• Farmers with groundhog problems call Rod Kirkpatrick.

• Horses “retire” to work with Jeanne Blackwell.

• Remington cattle farmer Doug Linton loves his home and work.

• Sports central to Robert Glascock’s life’s work.

• For Richard Mast, company ownership started with his summer work as a teenager.

• Bernice Simpson knows northern Fauquier back roads and the people who live along them.

• Eddie Payne has logged 38 years as a volunteer firefighter in Marshall.

• Stephanie Layton turns her lifelong passion for dance into her livelihood.

• Shawn LaRue matches children and adoptive families.

• Biker and psychology major Clif Stroud makes music in a big way.

• Becky Crouch greets lots of visitors.

• She helped blaze trail to equality for black teachers.

• Family and food come first for Marshall pizzeria employee.

• Rural “closeness” of Fauquier appeals to Kansas native

• A “spoke” in the wheel of preservation.

• His job dovetails with passion for hunting

• Veteran educator sees the potential in every child.

• His passions: Fixing cars and helping people

• Habitat ReStore volunteer appreciates Fauquier’s diversity.

• Dad’s example led to new career at Fauquier Hospital.

• He lives and works in a beautiful place.

• The Goldvein firehouse ranks as his favorite place.

• Pretty things everywhere she looks.

• Through scouting, he encourages girls to explore.

• One day, he might run the company.

• FISH volunteer likes to help others.

• She sees the community’s generosity.

• Cop patrols while most people sleep.

• Pastor a constant in Calverton.

• She keeps the courthouse spotless.

• He loves working working outdoors at the park.

• She sees “everyone” at Carousel

• Library assistant works in a “fun place"

• Hat lady sets up shop in Old Town Warrenton

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