Maine man restores vintage cars to former glory

The owner of a classic automobile restoration shop in Tenants Harbor is creating mechanical art. Phil Reinhardt spends his days working on classical cars. “The majority of stuff I work on is between the ’30s and’ 60s,” Reinhardt said. Only cars built before 1980 ever see the inside of his workshop. “I guess what I like about the old cars is just the beauty of their design and I guess the simplistic beauty of it too,” Reinhardt said. Reinhardt opened Mechanical Arts in 2020 He said he was drawn by both beauty and the challenge of restoring an auto which parts haven’t been made in decades. While the vintage cars were often built simpler than today’s, rarely is it easy to retool them. Creativity supersedes any service manual which was most likely lost decades ago. “You just see about every problem out there that they can have but you slowly start filling up your arsenal with various ways to solve these problems,” Reinhardt said.Reinhardt loves showing the cars off when they’re done. He says one of the perks is being able to test drive them around town and inevitably talking about his latest project. “You’ve got to be prepared to be held up if you go to the gas station or anything like that. Eight times out of 10 someone comes up, ‘Oh my grandfather owned one of these,’ ”Reinhardt said. Reinhardt says it’s surprising how many antique autos are scattered across Maine in various stages of repair, keeping his shop humming.It also keeps Reinhardt constantly searching and adding to his personal arsenal of solutions to keep the classics on the road. “Every company, every engineer had their own way of doing things that they thought was best, their own way of solving the problem related to cars at that time and it really made each one of them a unique piece of mechanical art, “Reinhardt said. His work is in such demand that he currently has about a 30-car waiting list.

The owner of a classic automobile restoration shop in Tenants Harbor is creating mechanical art.

Phil Reinhardt spends his days working on classical cars.

“The majority of stuff I work on is between the ’30s and’ 60s,” Reinhardt said. Only cars built before 1980 ever see the inside of his workshop.

“I guess what I like about the old cars is just the beauty of their design and I guess the simplistic beauty of it too,” Reinhardt said.

Reinhardt opened Mechanical Arts in 2020. He said he was drawn by both beauty and the challenge of restoring an auto which parts haven’t been made in decades.

While the vintage cars were often built simpler than today’s, rarely is it easy to retool them.

Creativity supersedes any service manual which was most likely lost decades ago.

“You just see about every problem out there that they can have but you slowly start filling up your arsenal with various ways to solve these problems,” Reinhardt said.

Reinhardt loves showing the cars off when they’re done. He says one of the perks is being able to test drive them around town and inevitably talking about his latest project.

“You’ve got to be prepared to be held up if you go to the gas station or anything like that. Eight times out of 10 someone comes up, ‘Oh my grandfather owned one of these,’ ”Reinhardt said.

Reinhardt says it’s surprising how many antique autos are scattered across Maine in various stages of repair, keeping his shop humming.

It also keeps Reinhardt constantly searching and adding to his personal arsenal of solutions to keep the classics on the road.

“Every company, every engineer had their own way of doing things that they thought was best, their own way of solving the problem related to cars at that time and it really made each one of them a unique piece of mechanical art,” Reinhardt said .

His work is in such demand that he currently has about a 30-car waiting list.

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