A little bit of Route 66 comes to Grass Valley | TheUnion.com

A little bit of Route 66 comes to Grass Valley

The beauties from another age are arrayed in a row, patiently awaiting restoration to their former glory.

A 1949 Oldsmobile Fastback currently has no engine or transmission and is priced at $5,300 for any buyer with the vision necessary to bring her back to life. Maybe a 1933 Willys coupe drag car or 1938 Ford two-door is more your speed — or a colorfully painted "Magic bus" that is gutted and ready for conversion to the mobile home of your dreams.

Ever since Lou Schiavone bought the defunct gas station at the corner of Colfax Avenue and Henderson Street, he has slowly been turning his hobby into his dream — refurbishing the building, cleaning up the weed- and garbage-strewn lot and crafting an American Graffiti-style vision to pique the interest of passersby.

Inside the building is an array of collectibles that reflect Schiavone's fascination with all things automotive and the 1950s. Outside, he is planning on adding some vintage, non-working gas pumps to continue the theme started with all those vintage cars.

"I just wanted to do something creative for the public," Schiavone said. "I saw an opportunity to buy the station and add a little bit of character" to the area.

The dozen or so collector vehicles on the property are just a fraction of Schiavone's collection, built over a lifetime.

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"I own about 50," he said, laughing as he added, "I try not to count — it makes me feel guilty."

Schiavone calls himself the "American picker" of collector cars, hauling them from wherever he finds them and doing a lot of his own restoration work.

"I enjoy going out," he said. "I've even been out to New York with a truck and a trailer."

Schiavone, who retired from the Bay Area to Nevada County 18 years ago, says there's not much money in buying, restoring and reselling collector vehicles.

But, he says, as long as he can potentially break even, he's happy.

"Hopefully, I will sell them," Schiavone said. "That allows me to buy more. You get so many, you feel guilty. So if you sell some, it feels more like a business. How many hobbies make you money? I could be doing worse things."

Contact reporter Liz Kellar at 530-477-4236 or by email at lizk@theunion.com.

Know & Go

What: Classics & Collectibles

Where: 257 Colfax Ave., Grass Valley

For info: Call 530-559-1986