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January 13, 2020

“Classic car” sales planned for Marshall Ford property

Photo/Don Del Rosso
Tom Callaway (right) and his son Chris plan to renovate the property and open Callaway Classics by year’s end.
Marshall’s Ford dealership opened in 1915 and operated continuously in the building until last August.
It’s an investment. It’s an opportunity to start a business. It’s an opportunity to meet my dreams — indulge my hobby, so to speak.
— Co-owner Tom Callaway
By .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
Staff Journalist
The avid “classic” car collector called his purchase of the former Marshall Ford property a “win-win-win.”

“It’s an investment,” explained Tom Callaway, who last Wednesday paid D&T Associates LLC $1.55 million in cash for three parcels and several structures, including the 1915 dealership building at Main Street and Winchester Road. “It’s an opportunity to start a business. It’s an opportunity to meet my dreams — indulge my hobby, so to speak.”

Mr. Callaway and his son Chris plan to open Callaway Classics by year’s end. With each owning 50 percent of the business, the inventory will feature a “diverse” selection of “collector cars” dating from the 1930s.

“Anything before the ’30s is real hard to deal with,” Tom said.

“If it’s anything new, it’d be like a specialty edition,” Chris said. “We have a 2003 Mustang Cobra, which is the first time they put a supercharger on a Mustang. Stuff like that.”

The historic, two-story structure and garage behind it will be converted into showrooms, Tom and his son explained Friday.

Combined, the buildings probably can contain 20 to 25 vehicles, they said.

Initially, Tom plans to tap his personal collection of about 90 classic vehicles — stored in a Manassas warehouse — to create inventory. Otherwise, vehicles will be obtained online, at auctions and from walk-in customers who may want to sell their machines, he said.

“It’s like a magnet,” Tom, 59, said of the showroom concept. “Once you have a place where people can come, you find that a lot of people come with deals.”

His son Chris, 31, will manage the business and help oversee improvements to the 1.5-acre property.

The father and son have no specific timeline for opening the business.

“We’re going to play it by ear,” said Tom, who lives just outside of Marshall. “We’re not in a hurry.”

At this point, they have “no idea” how much it will cost to “clean up the property, getting it looking good and put in showroom,” he said.

“We don’t even have the full list of what needs to be done,” Chris said.

Tom added: “You just talk to a contractor to see what they think, get some feedback.”

That evaluation could begin in about a month, he said.

While the father and son must work out details related to business’s operation, the showrooms should be open at least five days a week, Tom said.

But, Callaway Classics won’t provide financing, vehicle repairs or service, he said.

Tom likened the Marshall enterprise to a “hobby” that he and his son hope will become a money-making business.

Under most circumstances, basic economics would make it difficult for most to produce a profit through collector car sales, he suggested.

“The return’s not there” because of “overhead” costs, Tom said. “If you had to take a $2-million loan, that’s $20,000 a month on paying off the debt for this property. How many cars would you have to turn to make $20,000? And that’s before the heating bill, the lights, the gas.”

But, he has the built-in advantages of debt-free ownership of the property, a ready inventory of vehicles and other resources to support the business.

“I’d like to make a profit,” Tom said. “I don’t need to make a profit. That’s the difference.”

Looking at Chris, he laughed and added: “He’s going to generate a profit. He’s got to make money, because he’s got to make a living.”

Tom developed a passion for cars in his teens.

“I was failing out in school and couldn’t read very well,” Tom recalled. “When I was 14, my dad tricked me into reading. He had a ’65 Impala in the driveway and it didn’t run.

“So, for Christmas my dad bought me a 189-piece Craftsman tool set, a Penske analyzer set, with the dwell-and-tack timing light and compression gauge and vacuum gauge.”

His father also bought him a Chilton’s automobile repair manual.

“He said, ‘If you can fix (the Impala), you can have it,” he said. “So I had read how to take the motor out, how to unhook the transmission, how to hone the cylinders, how to check the bearings, how to do a valve job. So he tricked me into putting my effort into reading.

“From that point on, I really loved cars.”

In his day, high school students attended college or got a job.

“Back then, you had two paths,” Tom said. “People weren’t brainwashed like they are today, where everybody thinks you’ve got to go to the university, because a lot of people aren’t designed for the university. And, I was one of them.”

In September 1978, his “buddies” went to college and he needed a job.

“A friend of mine was a tile setter and he said he had a job for me,” Tom said. “So I started as a helper at $4 an hour.”

Over the next six years, he learned the tile and floor instillation business inside-out.

In 1984, Tom started T.A.C. Ceramic Tile Co. — operating from a 100-square-foot storage unit in Woodbridge that cost $85 a month to rent.

In its first year, T.A.C. grossed $55,000, he said.

“My W-2 income was $5,000 that year. And when I sold the business, my gross on the business was $78 million” per year.

In 2018, Anaheim, Ca.-based Select Interior Concepts bought the business for $43 million, according to the Washington Business Journal.

Marshall already attracts vintage vehicle enthusiasts

Commonwealth Classics and H&H Auto Garage occupy the old IGA building at 8382 W. Main St.

County Supervisor Holder Trumbo (Scott District) owns H&H and the structure that houses the two businesses.

H&H provides basic maintenance to people who keep vehicles there and enjoy driving them along Fauquier’s backroads.

Bill Desrosiers’ Commonwealth Classics specializes in importing “classic” vehicles more than 25 years old.

Along with his business and Commonwealth Classics, Mr. Trumbo believes Callaway Classics could help turn Marshall into a car collectors’ destination.

Tom welcomes the opportunity.

“It’ll attract a lot of people,” he said of Callaway Classics. “People love cars.”

The Marshall Ford dealership opened Nov. 23, 1915.

In October 2016, Carl Leckner of Oakton purchased the business — but not the real estate — from David Baird and Thomas O’Brien for an undisclosed sum. Mr. Baird and Mr. O’Brien had owned the dealership since 1989.

Mr. Leckner, whose company had owned Chrysler, Dodge, Ford, Jeep, Nissan and Ram Truck franchises elsewhere, abruptly shut his Marshall dealership in August.

Under D&T Associates LLC, Mr. Baird and Mr. O’Brien retained ownership of the property and last week sold it to the Callaways’ Marshall Corner LLC.

Contact Don Del Rosso at Don@FauquierNow.com or 540-270-0300. 

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zaiyamariya · January 14, 2020 at 6:52 am
I have read the article on marshall ford the property you have shared with me. troubleshooting printer problems I can't understand what you are trying to convey. Try to include more details in your blog. I hope you will update your blog very soon.
Washington Post · January 13, 2020 at 7:52 pm
I love this story as an entrepreneur. There is more money to be made here. Marshall. Fabulous place. Carbona was invented here. Very powerful solvent. Still being used.
Tony Bentley · January 13, 2020 at 6:49 pm
Sounds like they worked for their money. That's the American story I like to hear, not just inherited it, with no idea about hard work.
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