Welcome To Palm Beach Customs

40 year history. Over 2100 dream rides built

john russo

Johnny here,

Welcome to the Palm Beach Customs website, thanks for
stopping by.

First I’m going to give you a description of what PBC offers and after that I’ll explain how I got into classic and muscle car restoration back in the early days
along with all the
automotive related services.

Having done over 2,000 full restorations since the beginning, PBCs primary focus now is the
classic and muscle car restorations.
And my team and I do all aspects of
major restoration work.

We now also offer brand new steel replacement bodies and the parts geared towards the cars that we love (and restore).

35 years ago these cars would need disassemble, sandblasting, and metalwork and the availability of replacement panels was low. However, things have changed for the better and now car enthusiasts have choices they never had before with new steel bodies, custom built chassis, and aftermarket goodies.

Better-Than-Original Steel Bodies & Chassis

Classic Cars

Jeeps

Muscle Cars

Chassis

We offer the new steel bodies for the tri-five Chevys, ’67 and ’69 Cameros, the ’40 Ford, and Novas manufactured by Real Deal Steel – which is only about 50 miles away from the shop so we can oversee production and pick-up vehicles on site (this is if you are doing a custom build with us). We also sell Mustangs, Chevelles, ‘47-‘57 Chevy trucks from Dynacorn and the Jeep CJ-7 bodies from Omix-Ada.

But we aren’t just a parts dealer. I decided to do something really special at Palm Beach Customs for our customers: You can pick out a steel body and we can customize it to what you desire (either just paint or a full build)– make sure to explore the page to find out more about that: Stage 1, Stage 2, Stage 3.

You can find the new classic and muscle car steel bodies and parts on our online store. We only offer products that we are comfortable using ourselves. So you can rest assured that you are getting the best quality.

Whether you have an existing car that you might want fully restored by us see some of our work here or you want us to build a brand new steel body with new chassis offered in different stages – see here Palm Beach Customs is the place for you.

The Beginnings

Here is a little bit of the back story of how I got into the classic car business. Totally IN another direction than what I went to school for, which was carpentry.

It first started out growing up on a large chicken farm where I gravitated towards maintenance and repairs of all the trucks, tractors, and heavy equipment. When I was young, I decided to build my first ’57 Chevy. I had that baby all completed at 14 years old with a 327 Maloden Block and Muncie Stonecrusher.

These were the days before you could go and mail order anything – you actually had to build them from scratch.

 

Back to the story…

So I decided to drive that car to school at 14 years old. It would have worked out just fine had I just idled it in there and parked it next to everyone else.

But of course I could not do that.

I entered with a cloud of smoke and just 3 class-periods later my car exited with my Dad behind the wheel.

Well, long story short that’s when the seed for Palm Beach Customs was planted.

I’m sure many of you guys and gals can relate.

By the time I graduated high school, 15 Tri-5 Chevys had passed through my hands as well as a few big-block Chevelles and Camaros. Two of my high school buddies started working with me and I landed the contract to paint all the school buses for Galloway School Lines in Chariho-Exeter, R.I.

This was the beginning of my career and I was building hotrods by night and doing schoolbuses by day. And it turns out that Don Galloway of Galloway School Lines had a big passion for classic cars. I ended up restoring many for him, most of them Fords. He was a big Ford guy. But after a 6-7 year relationship and seeing the cars we were restoring…

He came by the shop one day and he was driving a 57 Chevy. My heart dropped. He smiled. And he asked me to paint that car. It didn’t even need a full restoration – it was that nice.

There was a god – I converted him.

about gas station

Our Charlestown RI Shop and Gas Station

My original location was in in Charlestown, R.I. and it was a former Mobil gas-station and Kaiser-Fraiser-Nash dealership – not far from the Charlestown Airbase where President George W Bush ‘41 used to train out of.

29 Years I spent at that location. We ran a fleet of tow-trucks, towing mainly for the Charlestown police RI state police and major motor clubs (AAA). Our primary focus was heavy hit collision work with 3 frame machines, down draft bake ovens, and 60ft long truck prep bays. During this time we still had the classic and muscle cars being restored.

We had 6 departments in all: Classic car restorations, Collision work, Towing, Graphics and Lettering (commercial fleets), Spray-on bedliners, and the Sandblasting division. The shop did extremely well with over 15,000 insurance claims, 2,500 commercial lettering and graphics projects, & massive amounts of restorations.

The reason I was able to be successful in all of this at once was from growing up in my family’s business.

We had a USDA Chicken processing plant as well as an egg division – that was called Chickadee Farms. In that business, at an early age, I was trained on production and quality.

It was a simple process if you followed it. I was able to implement staying organized and productive without thinking into my restoration business.

 The farm is also where I was able to gain experience in MIG and TIG welding because most everything in the production plant had to be aluminum or stainless to meet USDA code. I was one of the first shops back in the 80s to have a MIG welder in a body shop.

In 2010 I had enough with the New England weather and I bought a vacation home in Venice, FL. From then on, I knew there was a better way. I acted upon the lure of warm weather and no snow, and planted the new Palm Beach Customs on the Palm Beach Blvd in Ft. Myers, right across the Oasis yacht club. We stayed there for a few years, and then moved to Ocala, FL – about 8 miles from Don Garlette’s Drag-Racing Museum off Rt 75.

Now, we’re enjoying the beautiful weather here along with the 12 months that you can enjoy your classic cars and hot rods.

Contact us with any questions or if you’re interested in restoring a classic car.

Make sure to watch the video to hear more from the guy who started it all.