CARY – When Ralph Morey first started his car restoration business, he said he would never work on a model made later than 1947.
But Morey did not think his business would be booming 30 years later in Cary and winning national awards. As time went by, Morey had to give in and start working on later models built in the 1960s. It was a fortunate expansion, as a 1950 Allard J2 ranks among his favorite projects ever and brought national exposure to his shop as the vehicle was featured on Velocity Channel’s “One of a Kind.”
“That was a nifty car, a very rare car,” Morey said. “It really was one of a kind and one of my favorites to work on.”
Restorations Unlimited II – located at 304 Janus Road in Cary – started in Fox River Grove in 1971. After Morey realized he needed more space, he moved it to Cary in 1980, and the business has continued to grow ever since.
Morey, who started as a mold maker for Monogram Models, said he always had a passion for cars and has owned a slew of classic vehicles from the 1930s and 1940s.
That passion turned into the five-mechanic shop he now operates with his brother. Morey said the shop usually works on six cars at one time, with each project taking anywhere from 18 months to two years to complete.
Most projects range from $100,000 to $125,000 and come from repeat customers and referrals, he said. In a niche business such as restoration, Morey said there is always a dedicated and loyal group of hobbyists and collectors.
“Some people are true hobbyists and do a great job on their cars, and then bring it to us to finish what they can’t do,” Morey said. “Others have more demanding projects and are looking for real quality work.”
One such project is in progress now at Restorations Unlimited. Morey and his team are working on a prototype car that a customer designed and is building it from scratch. The project is almost complete after nearly five years of work and a $400,000 price tag.
The ability to work on almost any aspect of a car is what Morey said sets his shop apart from others. The only services he outsources are engine machining and chrome plating.
“We do absolutely everything we can in-house. We even have a sheet metal shop,” he said. “It’s hard to give out certain phases of work because you can’t depend on the quality or the job getting done on time.”
Even at 66 years old and having worked on hundreds of cars, Morey said he has no plans of stopping, as each vehicle – even the same model – offers a new experience.
He also enjoys the open house his shop holds every first Saturday of the month, as it gives him an opportunity to meet with other car enthusiasts and “trade notes, have some coffee and kick tires.”
Winning competitions also has not lost its thrill.
“We just finished working on one of our oddest cars, a 1950 Muntz Jet,” he said. “It just won best paint for the entire [Concours d’ Elegance of America] show in Plymouth, Mich. That’s still a great feeling to get a team win like that.”
Restorations Unlimited II
Where: 304 Janus Road in Cary
What: Full-service restoration of vintage and classic cars from the 1960s and earlier
Information: Visit www.ru2inc.com or call 847-639-5818 for a full list of services and events