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Article posted: 12/9/2013 12:09 AM

A life's passion is preserved in Hampshire showroom


After pouring so much into their hobby, many classic car enthusiasts worry about what will become of their automotive passions and possessions.

Terry Getzelman spent years putting together his classic car haven. Although the Hampshire resident passed away in 2006, his longtime vision turned reality continues to be carefully looked after by his family.

"He was a car guy his whole life," said Getzelman's wife, Gail. "He was working on cars with his grandpa as a small boy in the family's backyard and garage."

That passion quickly blossomed into a career. During his school days, young Terry built several hot rods in his spare time before working for a car dealership performing bodywork in East Dundee. In 1977 he struck out on his own, opening Getz's Auto Body where he mended modern machines. His fascination with the classics and customs never left him.

"We had a little space in the back where Terry would work on one classic at a time," Gail said. The family business expanded and in 2002 they moved to their current building in Hampshire. The company still retains its family roots as Gail and Terry's two sons, Dustin and Lee, work there.

"His dream was for a showroom to display everything he had collected and to share with everyone who came in," Gail said. Terry's interest wasn't just limited to vintage four-wheeled relics. "We would go to swap meets and antique stores. We'd enjoy browsing and picking up things to add to the collection."

All that searching didn't produce just piles of clutter.

"Dad had an innovative mind,' Lee said. "He could see his final vision. He wanted the illusion you were standing in an town, looking at the exterior of buildings."

The centerpiece of his display area at the shop is an old-style 1950s gas station. No refueling station would be complete without gas pumps and the Getz's features three green Wayne pumps.

"Terry really liked the old pumps; finding, collecting and restoring. He liked all brands, the older the better," Gail said.

Other accentuations include a copper roof on the "store front" that Terry laid himself, a massive pedal car collection and authentic store signs. One design inspiration was a tribute to the space's heritage.

"The building was a VFW hall when Dad purchased it and added onto it," Lee said. "He salvaged wood from the dance floor and ceiling and used it in the building, the gas pump island and trim."

Another special touch is found on the back wall. Area pinstriper Rick Bendi of West Dundee custom painted several storefronts incorporating family names. Gene's Drugstore is a reference to Terry's father and Floyd's barbershop carries his grandfather's name.

Parked on the epoxy floor among the indoor street scene are some of Terry's favorite machines, including a 1967 Chevrolet Nova Terry raced for years every Sunday during the summer months.

"At first, the restoration started off as a street car," Dustin said. "He kept going a little farther. Things can get out of hand working on your toys."

That unbridled tinkering ended up with an all-out drag racer, packing a custom made chassis, a supercharged alcohol-fed 406-cubic-inch V-8 and quarter-mile times in the low 8 seconds. Another car, a blue and white 1933 Ford, is a Windsor Fabrication body but heavily massaged by Terry to his liking.

"Dad didn't build cars to show them but to drive them," Lee said. To help pass those miles, Terry made sure the car was comfortable and added air conditioning and a cushy independent suspension.

An unusual vehicle among the classics is a Lamborghini-shaped ride. A friend of Terry's started the project before Terry took it over. Underneath the angular exterior is a custom chassis, a Corvette engine and a Porsche transmission.

"Even though Terry is gone, we aren't changing a thing," Gail said. "We want to preserve it just as he would -- to honor him and what he cared about."

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