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LABOR OF LOVE Harrisburg man turns cars into works of art Cars.

Byline: Travis DeNeal

HARRISBURG -- There's an old saying that if you do what you love for a living, you'll never work a day in your life.

If that's the case, Rod Wallace of Harrisburg may not be retiring anytime soon.

Wallace and his team at Wallace Auto Parts & Services Inc. finds classic cars and transforms them into one-of-a-kind works of high-octane art.

"What we do is acquire a car that already is considered a classic, completely restore it, and usually completely customize it," Wallace said.

The eye-catching results of his team's expert handiwork are what are known as "resto-mods" -- cars that are both restored and heavily modified.

Occasionally, though, Wallace will find a ride that begs for a complete restoration with no modifications. When he's finished with those particular cars, it's as if they just rolled off the assembly line in Detroit 40 or 50 years ago.

Either way, Wallace enjoys the challenge.

"It's something I grew up doing with my dad. I've always worked on cars," Wallace said. "One difference, though, is he prefers to do pure restorations, whereas I prefer resto-mods."

Wallace's most recent job is a 1971 Plymouth Road Runner, done in a bright orange finish. Under the hood, it boasts a 6.4L Hemi engine. The transmission and rear end have been beefed up to match the engine's power, as have the steering and suspension; it has Wilwood disc brakes front and back with drilled and slotted rotors.

While modernizations to the power plant and related mechanics are impressive, the interior is even more jaw-dropping. It has front and rear bucket seats and a console that runs the full length of the cab space down the middle. Modern USB receptacles are contained within, making it easy to charge personal electronic devices. Other customizations seem almost endless: ground effects, a custom stainless-steel grill, a hood-mounted ram air system, and true to form, a custom-made namesake Road Runner both on the hood's underside and between the rear seats.

The demand for classic cars has been at a fever pitch in recent years, and that translates into tall dollars. Wallace often sells one or two cars each year either through Mecum Auctions or Barrett-Jackson. He has high-quality color print catalogs from past Mecum auctions that featured his offerings.

He said his cars do well because of their quality, something he credits his build team with.

"Our guys do a tremendous job. I'm very proud of the work they do," Wallace said.

The car business is just a part of Wallace's business acumen, though.

Wallace Mfg., the industrial side of the business, builds MSHA-compliant mining vehicles and other custom machines for clients across the country.

Working on cars, though, is what he loves to do.

And naturally, it begs the Big Three question: Ford, General Motors or (Fiat) Chrysler? But Wallace plays no favorites.

"I love'em all," Wallace said. "I genuinely love cars each company made or makes. If it has four wheels and a motor, I'm interested."

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Publication:Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL)
Date:Mar 15, 2019
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