Scott Edelblute has always been mechanically inclined.
"In second grade, I had a mini bike. I would take it apart and put it back together. I can take things apart and fix them," Edelblute said. "I was always interested in cars and fast cars."
Edelblute, a 1977 graduate of Altoona Area High School, put those skills to good use and founded Professional Performance Auto Service Inc. in 1985. He started the business in his garage in Eldorado before moving to his 4037 Cortland Ave. location.
Mirror photo illustration by Gary M. Baranec and Tom Worthington II
Scott Edelblute, owner of Professional Performance Auto Service Inc. at 4037 Cortland Ave., checks on the fuel injection system of a customer’s 1965 Shelby Cobra SC on Wednesday.
Before opening his business, Edelblute worked as a mechanic at Suburban Dodge in Duncansville and ran a Snap-On Tools franchise for five years.
He used the money from the sale of his franchise to buy the property and construct his Cortland Avenue building.
He said his time with Snap-On Tools was valuable.
"Snap-On Tools gave me the opportunity to save enough money to open this place up. If not for Snap-On Tools, I would still be at a garage turning wrenches," Edelblute said. "They showed me how to run a business and how to make money and how to save it."
Edelblute said 80 percent of his business is made up of "everyday repair work," but he has become well known for his auto restoration work.
"Performance vehicle restoration is our niche," Edelblute said. "We don't specialize in restoration, but we do it. We are trying to be a full-service repair center and do restoration on the side. When we get busy, the restoration work sits."
Edelblute said he only does a "few" restoration jobs each year.
"It is tedious and time-consuming work, but I enjoy taking things apart and making them fit back together and look good," Edelblute said. "My customers are extremely patient; I am a perfectionist. They see how perfect it [the work] is."
Edelblute has restored several cars for Chris Kopac of Hollidaysburg, including a 1966 Corvette.
"When I took it in, I thought it was in great shape. He said he needed to do this and needed to do that. He literally took it apart and put it back together," Kopac said. "My Corvette was his baby, he spent so many hours on it. He really takes a sense of ownership. He loves what he is doing and is very passionate about it."
Edelblute said he's not sure whether restoration is a passion but the passion is the enjoyment of seeing the before and after.
The restoration of a car for former Altoonan Kevin Leap of Harrisburg was one of the most interesting and challenging projects he has undertaken, Edelblute said.
"We took a 1966 Plymouth Satellite six-cylinder engine and converted it into a race car in about four months. We were able to strip it down and build it from the floor up, and everything went together," Edelblute said. "That was also the most challenging project, being a complete conversion and having to get each part lined up so it fit."
Edelblute enjoys seeing his finished work.
"When you get to build one, turn the key and put it in drive and go down the road and the customer has a smile on his face, that is cool," he said. "A pat on the back 'that looks good' or 'that looks nice' is what is satisfying about the work."
"Every-day repair work" is also very important.
"Dealing with everyday repairs is 80 percent of our business; we get a lot of challenges. We accept a lot of cars that have been taken to other shops, but we figure them out," Edelblute said.
Edelblute said he and auto technician Marty Kolarczyk, who has worked for him since 1994, work well together.
"If there is a problem, we can normally figure it out between our many years of experience," Edelblute said.
Edelblute is optimistic about the future.
"I see a parking lot full of vehicles and the telephone not stop ringing. We are busy; we have had an increase in business every year since we have been here," Edelblute said. "I anticipate that continuing."
Mirror Staff Writer Walt Frank is at 946-7467.