Recently Complete!! Our New Display Lot to Showcase Our Full Line of Cars, Trucks & SUVs
Prestige Motor Car Co. | April 10, 2012
Prestige Motor Car Co. of Clifton Park, NY has finished the expansion of their lot along Route 9 to include room for up to 30 more Trucks and SUVs.
The extra room is very helpful in showcasing the many vehicles Prestige Motor Car has for sale, as well as creating more space for vehicles on our ever-growing lot. Stop in soon and take a look!
Beyond Repair - 1965 Convertible
Fire-damaged and left to rot for decades, this '65 Fuelie convertible was a lost cause -- until a dedicated Corvette restorer brought it back to life.
Corvette Magazine | October 2011
Story and photos by Barry Kluczyk
Joe Verrillo’s barn-find, fire-damaged Corvette proves to be one for the restoration record book.
We’ve all heard the rumors and stories about the forgotten Corvette -- the one squirreled away in a dilapidated barn, with only the warped planks of the walls or a hole in the weathered roof allowing indiscriminate beams of sunlight to grace its curvaceous fiberglass. The thought of cracking open the barn doors, brushing away a few layers of dust and discovering a long-lost L-88 is a romantic notion all Corvette enthusiasts harbor.
Joe Verrillo cracked open those proverbial barn doors more than a decade ago, after hearing about a fire-damaged Corvette that had been neglected for decades. It wasn’t an unaccounted L-88, but it was nonetheless a rare and desirable 1965 Fuelie roadster that was originally ordered as a radio- and heater-delete car. Only 39 of the more than 23,500 Corvettes that year were ordered without a heater. There’s no telling whether any of the other 39 were also radio-delete Fuelie cars, but there’s a good chance it was a one-of-one combination. It was also one of only 975 cars that year fitted with the heavy-duty F40 suspension.
“Like so many of these stories, I found out about this car in passing, around 2001,” says Verrillo, who co-owns Prestige Motor Car Company, a sales and resto shop in Clifton, New York, with his wife Sunday. “I was told it was an original Fuelie car and that the original engine was with it. That was enough for me to start the detective work.”
The search for the car led to a body shop in nearby Stillwater, New York. The car was indeed there and had definitely been involved in a fire, but perhaps more importantly, the car wasn’t in a barn. It had been stored in a shed that did little more than shield the sun a bit. The Corvette was all but exposed to the elements and, in fact, had begun to return to them.
“The owner of the body shop told me the car was rough and he wasn’t kidding,” says Verrillo. “They guys at his shop nicknamed it the ‘Chia Vette’ because moss was growing on the body and interior had become an unintentional planter over the years.”
Despite the body’s wretched condition, Verrillo wouldn’t be deterred as long as the rumor of the original engine proved true. And it did.
“The engine wasn’t with the car, but it was at the body shop owner’s house,” he says. “It was just a bare block and heads and they all looked terrible -- just like three chunks of scrap metal.”
A quick check of the numbers confirmed the 375-horsepower fuel-injected 327 engine was original. Like the car’s body, Verrillo didn’t let the condition of the components dissuade him, but he wanted a little more reassurance before committing to what would ultimately be a very involved, painstaking restoration project.
“The value in restoring the car would be its numbers-matching powertrain, so I really needed to know that the original engine was salvageable,” he says. “The block had never been decked, which was great, but I asked the owner if we could get the block and heads magnafluxed to ensure I could use them.”
When the parts passed the machine-shop test, Verrillo struck a deal for the fire-bitten, moss-covered Corvette and its remnants. They were hauled back to his shop, where even his staff technicians scoffed at the idea that the car could be saved.
As Verrillo began to collect parts for the restoration, insisting on as many original and NOS parts as possible, he also began to piece together the story of how the car became a Corvette flambé. That included tracking down the owner of the car at the time of the fire.
“He was the original owner and had driven the Corvette from California back to New York in 1966, after his discharge from the service,” says Verrillo. “It was his only car and he drove it in the winter. In the early Seventies, he blew up the engine while trying to drive on an icy incline.”
According to the previous owner’s account, he took the car off the road, removed the engine and disassembled it with the intention of rebuilding it. Before the rebuild, however, the owner’s motorcycle caught fire in his garage, roasting the rare roadster along with nearly everything else in it. The charred hulk was sold off and, while it moved around a few times, eventually ended up as the Chia Vette outside that upstate New York body shop.
Fortunately for Verrillo, the relationship he forged with that previous owner produced a wealth of paperwork and parts, including the original and specific exhaust manifolds, sales receipts and registration cards. The original California black plates were still on the car, too.
“Those items were invaluable,” he says. “They really enhanced the car’s provenance.”
As the restoration got underway, Verrillo and his technicians were glad to find the frame was straight and rust-free, but nearly every other nut, bolt and component required replacement -- although the F40 suspension’s original shocks and springs were salvageable. Verrillo was thinking of NCRS Top Flight status and Bloomington Gold recognition, so accuracy and authenticity were paramount considerations throughout the project. He was able to locate NOS fenders, quarter panels and other body parts, while the driver’s door is a used original.
“We actually had a few original doors in stock and tested each of them on the car to find the one with the best fit,” says Verrillo, who had the car re-sprayed its original Tuxedo Black after all the body parts were fitted and smoothed.
When it came to the refurbishment of the Fuelie, solid-lifter 327 engine -- 1965 was the final year for Ram Jet fuel injection -- it was rebuilt with as many of the original parts as possible, including the distributor, water pump and fuel pump. They were torn down, rebuilt and reinstalled. The fire had damaged the original plenum housing of the Rochester fuel injection system beyond repair, so another was located and rebuilt by noted Rochester guru John DeGregory, at his Pennsylvania shop. The M20 four-speed transmission was rebuilt, too, and matched to the engine with a new clutch, pressure plate and reconditioned linkage.
The blue interior is certainly an odd sight for those used to seeing heater controls and a radio in the “center stack.” Verrillo’s car shows only a clock and an expanse of blue vinyl below it, including blue plugs for the heater controls. Despite the deletion of the radio and heater system, the Corvette was ordered with some premium features including the relatively rare Teakwood steering wheel. Only 2,259 cars were so-equipped in ’65.
Indeed, the equipment on Verrillo’s reborn roadster is so incongruous that it must have been special-ordered by the original owner. As it was originally purchased in California, that owner may have thought a heater in a convertible Corvette was superfluous, but he didn’t skimp when it came to spending nearly $50 more for the Teakwood wheel. And, of course, he shelled out more than $500 for the fuel-injected engine, but opted for the base steel wheels and wheel covers. To dress up the restored car, Verrillo has added the aluminum knock-off wheels and incorrect-but-stylish blue-line tires.
“It’s definitely a combination of options you don’t see everyday,” says Verrillo. “I think that makes the car all the more interesting.”
Restoring this rare Corvette took the better part of a decade, as Verrillo’s business -- and work on customer cars -- took precedence. It was finished in the spring of 2010 and was promptly entered in a NCRS event in Pennsylvania, where it achieved a Top Flight award. And as we finished this story, Verrillo was readying the car for the 2011 Bloomington Gold judging.
It’s a safe assumption that anyone gazing at the burnt, moss-covered shell more than 10 years ago would not have guessed it could be restored to award-winning condition, but this Corvette and its roster of rare options demonstrates the value of perseverance.
“They always tell you not to buy a car that’s been in a fire,” says Verrillo, with a grin. “Fortunately, I’m not a good listener.”
The Upstate Connection: 30 Years in the Corvette Business
The Upstate New York burg of Clifton Park, just north of Albany, may seem an unlikely hot spot for Corvette activity, but it’s the location staked out by Joe and Sunday Verrillo and their Corvette-centered business, Prestige Motor Car Company (www.prestigemotorcar.com).
In 2010, Joe and Sunday Verrillo moved their business into a new, 18,000-square-foot facility to accommodate a business that has grown steadily for about 30 years. And while the company handles the sales, service and restoration of just about all classics and late-model performance cars, the focus is decidedly on Corvettes.
Like so many successful entrepreneurial stories, the Verrillos started small. Joe worked at dealerships before launching his own used-car business that focused on Corvettes and performance cars. That was 1975. In the early 1980s, the first restoration job was tackled -- albeit one that didn’t earn the Verrillos a big profit. It was a ’66 Corvette with all the custom trappings of the era, including triple taillights, flared fenders and the like.
“There were a lot of hours in that car,” says Joe Verrillo. “It was a learning experience, for sure, but we kept going, improving our processes and building our business.”
That experience led to the restoration of a ’67 427/435 car in 1985 that earned a Bloomington Gold award and, well, it the business snowballed from there. More than 25 years later, the Verrillos are restoring award winners, including the ’65 roadster in our main story. That one’s not for sale, they say, although Prestige maintains an inventory of about 30 Corvettes that are.
“It’s a great, fun business,” says Joe Verrillo. “Not many people can say they make their living on Corvettes. We’re thankful to say we do.”
Prestige Motor Car Co. Wins Master Builder Award
Star Building Systems | August 5, 2011
Star Building System's 2010 Master Builder Award was presented today to Steel Solutions, Inc. for the brand new, state of the art Prestige Motor Car Company facility in Clifton Park, NY.
The 18,000 square-foot building, completed September 2010, was selected "Best of the Auto Dealership Category" by Star Building Systems.
Prestige Knows Fine Cars, Company Provides Experienced Service and Sales of Corvettes and More
Spotlight Newspapers | July 20, 2011
By Bradley Morris
Prestige Motor Car Company has been serving the local area for the past 330 years by providing quality service and sales of Corvettes and specialty vehicles. Located at 1926 Route 9 in Clifton Park, Prestige caters to local motor vehicle enthusiasts.
The company, founded by Joe and Sunday Verrillo, sells a variety of cars -- including those from decades as early as the 1960s all the way to brand-new 2011 Corvettes. Aside from the specialty vehicles themselves, Prestige sells a large number of accessories for those cars. For more information about Prestige's services, accessories and more, visit the website at www.prestigemotorcar.com.
The company, which began in the plate 1970s in Troy, moved this past fall to its Clifton Park facility. the family owned business employs around six to 10 employees at a time, and all are seasoned veterans in their fields.
"[There is a ] combined 95 years [of experience] between the management and the ownership," says Sunday Verrillo.
In addition to sales, Prestige's experienced staff can provide quality service to cars, old and new. Those services range from complete restoriation on old Corvettes to simple oil changes.
"Everything we do has to be the finest, highest quality," says Verrillo.
Verrillo said Prestige strives to make every customer feel welcome. There is at least one owner there everyday greeting everyone and making deals, so all customers have an opportunity to meet with the founders themselves.
"We pride ourselves to go above and beyond," says Verrillo.
Prestige also makes sales internationally. Currently, the company is doing resto-mod restoration for a man in Norway, outfitting the car with new, modern parts, but keeping the vintage exterior.
Prestige has also sponsored several local events, such as Corvette shows, to help raise money for charity, most recently in Ballston Lake. Prestige is also one of the two official sponsors of the Albany/Saratoga Speedway in Malta.
Prestige Motor Car has garnered national recognition in the past few months, with the company's restoration of a 1965 Chevrolet Corvette being featured in Hemming's Muscle Machine Magazine. Additionally, a Yenko Camaro that Prestige worked on was featured on the cover of Hemmings Motor News in June.
"I'd like to invite people to our new facility and meet my husband and me and our service director, Mike Capasso and give us a try," says Verrillo.
A Collector’s Latest Score Gets a Body-on Makeover, 1969 Yenko/SC 427 Camaro
Hemmings Motor News | June 2011
By Mike McNessor
Photography by Dino Petrocelli (provided By Joe Verrillo, Prestige Motor Car Co.)
Hemmings Motor News - June2011 - Resto 69 Yenko Camaro Article
Restorer and collectible-car dealer Joe Verrillo barely had time to bask in the glow of the 1970 GTO Judge convertible his shop restored last year, when the car’s owner rolled out another legendary muscle car in need of a makeover.
“We were working on my client’s 1970 GTO Judge convertible at the time, and he said, ‘I’ve got a surprise to show you,’” Verrillo said. “So, we delivered the finished Judge to him, then went in his garage and he pulled the cover off of this 1969 Yenko Camaro.”
The freshly acquired Yenko turned out to be a 39,000-mile rust-free car with one repaint and an engine rebuild performed in 1988. It had been in Indiana from 1969 through 2004, changing hands through three different caretakers. Its stock number at Yenko Chevrolet had been YS-9607, and it had been sold new through Nankivell Chevrolet in Indianapolis, Indiana, for a grand total of $4,563.25. The base price with destination charges was $4,302, and options including an AM radio, Yenko’s instrument package and Atlas wheels added $261.25 to the original sticker price. Needless to say, the current owner paid considerably more than that for the pleasure of possessing a legend among Chevrolet enthusiasts.
“The paint was faded on the hood a little bit, and the grille had a small break. I suggested that we could wet-sand and buff it,” Verrillo said. “The interior was phenomenal, though the dash pad was rolled up a little bit.”
Thrilled with how his GTO turned out, Verrillo’s client would hear nothing of a little wet-sanding and buffing -- the Yenko needed to be show quality. “He told me how the Yenko had the original engine and all of the original paperwork and how he would really like to take it to the level of the Judge we’d just finished.”
So, on the trailer the Yenko went, for a ride back to Verrillo’s shop, Prestige Motorcar in Clifton Park, New York (www.prestigemotorcar.com). Once there, it was relieved of its front fenders, hood, grille, radiator support and wheelhouses, and the paint was removed using a combination of chemical stripping and media blasting.
“As we took the car apart, we noticed that it was damaged in the driver’s side cowl and one of the doors had been replaced with one that had been Hugger Orange,” Verrillo said. “So we pulled out the cowl and soda-blasted the door to strip it. We then stripped the rest of the car to bare metal. It turned out to be really clean -- zero rust.”
The engine was left in the car, but a lot of detail work was performed to make the engine compartment shine: new tower-type hose clamps, new power steering hoses, new exhaust manifold bolts and more.
“We never took the motor out because it was in nice shape; we refinished the wheel wells, the radiator support, changed all the bolts around in the engine and touched up the firewall,” Verrillo said.
Some of the body’s minor imperfections were addressed, it was primed and block-sanded then finally painted with DuPont ChromaPremier basecoat/clearcoat paint. A DuPont representative was able to match the original Rally Green by sampling the paint underneath the jacking instructions sticker on the inside of the trunk lid. Reproduction stripes were applied, though altered slightly to make them more true to the originals. For the final touch, new Yenko emblems and 427 call-outs for the Cowl Induction hood were installed.
The interior of the Yenko appeared to be entirely original, but the owner wasn’t happy about the feel of the original seats. The dash pad, too, needed attention.
“We took the seats out because the owner complained that they were mushy,” Verrillo said. “Our upholsterer determined that the springs were broken, so he installed new springs and put the original covers back on. We looked for an NOS dashpad and couldn’t find one. We weren’t happy with the reproduction, so we took the original dash pad out, heated it and molded it as best we could back to what it originally was, and put it back in the car.”
Cosmetically, the results of this body-on, engine-in restoration speak for themselves. The mechanicals and chassis of the car were left entirely as-is, because nothing really called out for attention.
“The car runs and drives like the day it was brand new,” Verrillo said.
When brand new, the Yenko S/C 427 Camaro was a force to be reckoned with. In the July 1969 issue of Super Stock & Drag Illustrated, Ed Hendrick, a ringer from the NHRA Super Stock ranks, drove a supposedly stock 1969 Yenko Camaro to a 12.59 at 108.07 MPH on street tires.
The SS & DI story was written by Ro McGonegal, who remains dubious about the car’s stock status.
“In those days, most manufacturers routinely had cylinder heads on their press cars blueprinted,” McGonegal is quoted as saying in Bob McClurg’s 2010 book, Yenko: The Man, The Machines, The Legend. “Often they capped a shortblock that had been brought to normal spec for an edge, anything that might distinguish its performance from its raging counterparts. Of course, we were told that the Yenko was completely stock, save for headers and the leaf spring clamps, and had no proof to the contrary.”
Prior to 1969, Canonsburg, Pennsylvania-based Chevrolet dealer and sports car racer Don Yenko was in the highperformance Camaro business the oldfashioned way -- he bought stock automobiles and modified them. But in 1969, Yenko used his clout with GM to subvert the Central Office Production Order system to his advantage. The result was a line of factory-built 427 Camaros and 427-powered Chevelle sister cars. Yenko added black or white vinyl side and hood graphics, headrests with the SYC logo, Yenko emblems on the fenders and taillamp panel, and offered accessories like a Stewart Warner 970 transistorized tachometer (some later cars used the factory in-dash tach) with accessory water temperature, oil pressure and amp gauges; optional cast 15x6 Atlas wheels, or exhaust headers.
The stuff that came from GM in the Central Office Production Order Camaro package (and the Chevelle) was stout, to say the least. Under the cowl induction hood was a 427 engine rated at 425hp by GM or 450hp by Yenko. The L72 used a four-bolt-main cast-iron block, a forged crankshaft, solid-lifter camshaft, 11:1 compression, rectangle-port heads with 2.19 intake and 1.72 exhaust valves, an aluminum intake and a Holley carburetor.
Yenko 427 Camaro S/C buyers could get either an M21 four-speed manual transmission or a Turbo Hydra-Matic 400 three-speed automatic transmission, and the cars all had a 12-bolt axle with 4.10 gears and Positraction. The Yenko Camaros also boasted a 140 MPH speedometer, a 13⁄16-inch anti-roll bar, heavyduty coil springs, five-leaf rear springs and power front disc/rear drum brakes.
Yenko produced between 199-201 of his tuned-up Camaros in 1969. It is estimated that 171 of them came with a four-speed manual transmission and the rest were automatics. The color choices included Le Mans Blue, Hugger Orange, Olympic Gold, Daytona Yellow, Rally Green, and Fathom Green.
With only 200 built, opportunities to buy original ’69 Yenko Camaros are few and far between. At RM’s Milton Robson Collection Auction, November 13, 2010, a Fathom Green Yenko Camaro with a four-speed and Atlas wheels hauled in $308,000.
The 26,000-mile car was said to have had all of its original body panels, all of its original lacquer paint except for the hood, and original interior.
Popular pricing guides put Yenko Camaros at $283,000 on the high end, $83,000 on the low end, with with an average of $120,300. All of those prices seem low, considering what we’ve seen these cars trade for in recent years. Clones, tribute cars and fakes are definitely out there.
With reproduction emblems and stripe kits on the market, and unscrupulous people who will restamp blocks and produce false VIN tags, it’s possible to build a very convincing fake Yenko Camaro, Chevelle or Nova. However, because so few of these cars were built and because they have such an ardent following, it’s also easy to weed out the imposters.
The best source of Yenko information and the best place to meet Yenko owners on the web is at The Supercar Registry, www.yenko.net. The best place to meet the owners and experts in person, as well as see these cars on the drag strip is at the annual SYC Supercar reunion put on by the Yenko Sports Car Club. Keep your eyes on www.yenko.net for details.
Part Two: 1965 Chevrolet Corvette Roadster.
Out of the Fire, Into the Resto Shop.
Hemmings Muscle Machines Magazine | March 2011
By Mike McNessor, Photography by Terry McGean, Restoration Photography by Prestige Motor Car Co., Studio Photography by Dino Petrocelli
Hemmings Muscle Machines - March 2011 - Resto 65 Corvette Article
Part One: 1965 Chevrolet Corvette Roadster.
Out of the Fire, Into the Resto Shop.
Hemmings Muscle Machines Magazine | February 2011
By Mike McNessor, Photography by Terry McGean, Restoration Photography by Prestige Motor Car Co., Studio Photography by Dino Petrocelli
Hemmings Muscle Machines - Feb 2011 - Resto 65 Corvette Article
Vintage Car Restorers Expand, Add Staff and Services to Drive Revenue
The Business Review - Shifting Gears | October 4, 2010
By Pam Allen
Joe Verrillo and Sunday Verrillo already had their hands full running their business, Prestige Motor Car Co., when they assumed the role of general contractor for the company’s newest location.
The couple estimates they saved $500,000, or 25 percent, by hiring their own sub-contractors and serving as general contractor for the $2 million project.
“We bid out every job ourselves. They were all small, hands-on contractors, about a dozen in all,” said Joe Verrillo.
The couple pooled their individual strengths -- Joe’s hands-on, mechanical abilities and Sunday’s retail management background -- to execute contracts and oversee site work.
The couple broke ground on the new showroom and service center, located on four acres at 1926 Route 9 in Clifton Park, in April 2009 and opened the doors on Sept. 13 of this year.
Prestige sells, rebuilds and services luxury cars and vintage automobiles. It’s the third expansion/relocation for the Verrillos since they founded their company in 1984.
The new, 18,000-square-foot building is twice the size of the old location. It is enabling Prestige to meet a growing demand for its service and restoration work.
That work has increased by 25 percent to 30 percent every year since at least 2006, and space constraints were stifling growth. Before the move, service was limited to only those vehicles sold by Prestige.
“We didn’t have enough room or staff to service other cars. Now we can open it up to people who purchase elsewhere,” Sunday Verrillo said.
Prestige is also growing staff. The husband-and-wife team created three new positions and will hire a total of seven more employees, doubling its current full-time work force to 14.
They are looking for their first general operations manager and general salesperson, and plan to add office staff and at least two more technicians.
They’re also hiring their first Internet marketing person. Prestige attracts buyers from as far away as Switzerland and Dubai, and the Verrillos want to build on that market.
“We really have been lax in that area,” said Joe Verrillo, a self-taught car hobbyist who rebuilt his first car, a limited edition GTO Judge convertible, at age 14.
Prestige’s larger space also allows for more vehicles. Prestige’s previous building at 1660 Route 9 held 40 cars and inventory was limited to mainly Corvettes.
The new location has room for 80 vehicles, allowing the Verrillos to expand their supply of BMWs, Mercedes-BenzbizWatch , Ford Mustangs, Harley-DavidsonbizWatch motorcycles and specialty trucks.
Car sales represent the largest portion of Prestige’s revenue.
Prestige also will start selling “everyday” vehicles and vehicles on consignment, two additional revenue sources that previously were hindered by lack of space.
Initially, the construction plans developed in 2000 called for a single, 18,000-square-foot showroom and service area.
That plan -- deemed “totally unaffordable” when the Verrillos revisited it in 2006 -- was reconfigured to two buildings of 9,800 square feet each, one for sales and one for restoration and storage.
Those plans changed again when the recession hit.
Instead of occupying both buildings, the Verrillos consolidated operations to a single unit and leased the second building as income property.
The tenant, The Hearst Corp.bizWatch , uses the building as a distribution center. The New York City-based company publishes 34 weekly magazines and 15 daily newspapers, including the Times UnionbizWatch in Albany.
Hearst’s monthly lease payments cover a large portion of Prestige’s overhead costs.
“Tenants generate income without you having to do it,” Joe Verrillo said.
The bad economy has its upside for Prestige Motors. The Verrillos were able to borrow money at a low interest rate and cut deals with contractors because commercial construction was so slow. Kinderhook Bank holds the mortgage on the property.
The Verrillos own other properties, including a mixed-use parcel on Route 50 in Glenville that they lease for offices, a portion of their first location at 1856 Route 9 in Halfmoon (they sold a large chunk of the parcel to Stewart’s Shops Corp.), and their last site at 1660 Route 9 in Clifton Park.
They still use that property for car storage but plan to lease it to a commercial tenant. There are two occupied apartments on the second floor of the building that also generate revenue.
Much like they have piqued consumers’ interest in food, reality TV shows and specialty magazines have boosted the car restoration industry in recent years.
The market has grown to $1.9 billion, from $500 million a decade ago, according to the Specialty Equipment Market Association, a California-based trade group for vintage automobile buyers, suppliers and distributors.
In a recent online poll, one in eight Angie’s List members said they owned a vintage automobile.
Bob Ensign’s vehicle restoration business “exploded” in 2006 when he shifted from collision repair to restoring rare automobiles.
Ensign owns Ensign’s Autocare Center on Central Avenue in Albany. He said he cultivated a brand once he turned his attentions to a specialty market.
“We took the emphasis off modern collision repair because we were seeing less and less profit,” he said.
Ensign’s business is growing so much that he is building a 14,000-square-foot facility at 836 Loudon Road in Latham. The location is scheduled to open Oct. 15.
“We’re taking in business from across the country. If I were to focus on this geographic region, I’d go broke,” he said.
Conversely, the Verrillos see plenty of untapped opportunity in the local market.
One of their marketing challenges is overcoming the stigma attached to the name, “Prestige.”
The company’s customers run the gamut from corporate executives to police officers to delivery men, Joe Verrillo said. “One of our biggest downfalls is that our name sounds expensive.”
Entrepreneurs of the Month, Sunday & Joe Verrillo
Success Magazine - Clifton Park, NY | October 2007
Success Magazine's Entrepreneurs of the Month, Sunday and Joe Verrillo of Prestige Motor Car Company, turned a mutual passion for cars into one of the premier auto dealerships in the country. They tell us how the right car can be anything from the realization of a dream to a solid investment.
Success Magazine: What does success mean to you?
Sunday Verrillo: To me, success is waking up in the morning knowing that my team is here opening the doors, customers are referring other customers, and you're here choosing us to be in Success Magazine.
Joe Verrillo: Success is being fortunate enough to turn my passion into a successful, nationally- recognized, high-quality dealership specializing in Corvettes, Sports and Luxury cars.
SM: Tell us about your business. How did you get started?
JV: My interest in cars started when I was about 13-14 years old. I had my father take me to buy a 67 GTO. It had no engine and no transmission in it, and he and my brother both took me around to get the parts to put the car together. I put it together, got it running, and from there I started repairing other people's cars in my parents' driveway.
SM: Did you have training, or did it just come naturally?
JV: I was self-taught. I used to go down the street to the local body shop, and around the corner there was a guy who had stock cars. I used to hang around their garages when I was a kid and learn by watching and asking a lot of questions. My first endeavor in a job was at Hedley Cadillac in Troy, turning wrenches as a used car mechanic.
SV: I always had an interest in cars, so it was kind of ideal that we met one another, with my retail management background and Joe's interests. I actually started helping in our reconditioning shop. Joe and I personally restored this '67 Corvette on the showroom floor.
SM: How did you get into Prestige Motors? How did you make that transition from where you were to being an elite dealer for cars?
JV: I found cars fascinating, and thought that I could start a business, so I started buying and selling cars. I opened up Classic Auto Sales in 1975 on Hoosick Street in Troy. We made the move to Clifton Park in 1983 and formed Prestige Motor Car Co.
SM: Sunday, did your training in retail help to propel the retail side of this business and take it to the next level?
SV: Joe is the best marketer, I've learned a lot from him. My retail background has helped us to put together the systems and the procedures for the business to grow.
SM: Having a love of cars translates well to your clients. It's like us communicating about the magazine: nobody can tell the story better. What is your methodology for going from just a showroom and selling classic cars to your current business model?
JV: You can walk around our lot and take a look at every car and see that they're all in the same condition. We believe in high quality, not high volume. We specialize in one-owner cars, cars that have not been repainted or touched-up, not your average cars that run through a dealership. They were previously owned by clients who had two or three cars, and this particular car was just another toy for them. We travel the whole country, we do shows, and while we're searching the country we also do market analysis on what other people in our business have to offer, what their pricing is, and what their quality is. This enables us to be the best at what we do, that means offering the best product there is on the market at the most competitive prices.
SM: Obviously, Halfmoon, Clifton Park, Saratoga, and the Capital District are thriving, yet your client base is not just in those areas. Do you have an online presence, as well? Do you price online, or do people come up and say, "How much for that mint 69 Camaro?"
JV: We have a website, www.prestigecorvettes.com, and we have one person that works on marketing. Most of our prices are online. We also advertise on all kinds of different websites over and above our own, that brings customers back to us, as well.
SV: We do comparative shop our prices nationally, so that we can remain very competitive.
SM: How did you pick your team, and what did you do to develop that team so that you can travel and take care of business?
JV: I've looked for the best people, people who are like me, people who are passionate, driven, meticulous, and have a love for what they do. I've put a team together that is the best I've ever had.
SV: And beyond that, with Prestige you are getting a complete package. You're getting the expertise of Joe's many years of being able to put the cars together and work on them. You're getting an award-winning restoration shop and the fact that we know the difference between a Real Car and a made up one. You're getting the expertise of this team that is reconditioning and servicing the car, and then you're getting the guaranty that we do stand behind what we sell.
SM: What do you look for in a person?
JV: I look for integrity and drive. SV: Loyalty and dedication.
SM: Classic cars are like antique furniture, to a degree. If a family is struggling, they're not going to go out and buy a '69 Camaro, but there will always be people who will buy classic cars. Have there been times when there has been a lull in the economy that's affected your business, and what did you do during that time?
JV: There has been a lot of disposable income and people put their money into something they can watch increase in value. When the stock market drops people pull money out of the stock market and the collector car market rises drastically. Some people want to take their money and put it into something that they had or dreamed of having when they were eighteen years old and just watch their investment pay off. When the market has taken off, we've jumped on the bandwagon and gotten involved. We also have a restoration facility where we restore some cars, too. Our restoration work has been recognized with the most prestigious awards Bloomington Gold and NCRS Top Flight!
SV: One of the keys to our success has always been in buying the right vehicle.
SM: You went from wholesale to now wholesale and retail. Were you always dealing in new cars, or when did you expand into that?
JV: We were in the wholesale business for many years prior to being in Clifton Park in the retail business. Porsche, Mercedes, Cadillac, diesel dual wheel pickup trucks... we've always bought and sold something that the guy next door doesn't sell. The later model cars have always been part of the business. We have both. We have the classic and the later model.
SM: You're still both very young. You have tremendous opportunities ahead of you, but there must have been times when it wasn't perfect. When you went through those times, what helped you to pull through them?
SV: Joe never gives up, and neither do I. Where there's a will, there's a way. Both of us could perform every aspect of this business if the need arose. Between the two of us we could buy the car, we could detail it, we could service it, we could sell it, and we could do the paperwork.
SM: How would you describe yourself in one word?
SM: When the economy goes down, somebody who was playing the market might have to liquidate their garage full of toys. Maybe there's a divorce, death in the family, estate settlement, or something like that. What do you think makes you different from all of the other dealers facing those same circumstances?
JV: You've asked what do we do in down times, and how we adapt. Recently, we have added the service of managing and brokering personal auto collections all around the country. We will give you a fair market assessment and nationally market your vehicle; we can also find you the car of your dreams!
We get people who call us who've had a death in the family; I always go to the house, and my feelings are that when I go to that person, I need to help them, not just fill my pockets. I need to be fair. It comes from the level of integrity we've kept up. I believe that's how we're to do business.
SV: I remember years ago we were at a show in Florida, someone told us about this young woman whose husband owned a restaurant in Fort Lauderdale, and he was murdered in an armed robbery. The restaurant was closed and she needed money, she had to sell his Blazer. We went and met her, her mother and her child, and we took the Blazer, sold it for her, did not charge her anything and gave her the money. That felt so good to be able to help at that crisis time. To be able to do those kinds of things for people as well, and not look at a car just to see what the profit margin is, those are the things that are very rewarding to us. We keep their business private, we are able to stock, liquidate and restore their collection.
SM: You're a premier dealer. What does the future hold for you? What is it you're looking to accomplish?
JV: We are working on more and more marketing worldwide. We are looking into putting everything indoors, so that we can give a customer our undivided attention. And our goal from there is to have a second satellite location, where the sun shines more. We don't look at ourselves as being in the car business; we look at ourselves as we've built a dream. In my eyes we've put together something that I've always dreamed of. When people come through the doors, and we deliver their cars, they thank us, give us hugs, bottles of wine, flowers and gifts... to me there's nothing more rewarding in the world.
SV: We receive so many of these big thank you letters from these clients who take the time to write to us because their experience was so great. It's the fulfillment of their dream to own one of these cars.
JV: When you walk through our door, we treat you the way we would want to be treated. We welcome people. We like what we do, and we don't look at everything wondering how much money we can make, because part of our life, part of our accomplishment, is making the customer happy. If we can make you happy and treat you the way we'd like somebody to treat us, we feel like we're doing our job, and we can walk out at the end of the day and feel great about it.
SV: Our reputation, not only in the retail business, but also in the wholesale business, is the same; we stand behind our product that we sell to dealers the same as retail buyers. We can pick up the phone and call a dealer in Washington, D.C., or in Chicago, sell a vehicle wholesale, and just put it on a truck. They know when they receive the vehicle that it's front-line ready, they can turn the product which generates higher profits for the product.
JV: When we go to those world-renowned shows, people recognize Prestige Motor Car Co. as one of the premier dealerships in the country, that's a fact that I'm very proud of. It's been built with a great partner and wife, and the team that I have behind me, because without them we wouldn't have Prestige.
Best Corvette Shop, Prestige Motor Car Co.
Times Union - Albany, NY | Best of the Capital Region 2001
Cruising by, it's hard not to be distracted by the staggering array of Corvettes -- which enthusiasts still tout as the only true American sports car -- at Prestige. On any given day, you can find around 40 cars including some dating back to 1965, in all sizes, shapes and colors, in prices ranging from the low-to-middle five figures. At Prestige, you can find a classic car that's 20 or even 30 years old, but still has fewer than 10,000 miles on it. Odds are, it will be completely immaculate, right down to that new-car smell.
Husband-and-wife owners Joe and Sunday Verrillo have been accumulating 'vettes together since 1980. They helped found the Corvette Museum in Bowling Green, Kentucky.
So if you've decided it's time to cash in all those pennies you've saved in a jar for the last decade -- or maybe you just want to feel the G-forces pin your head against the seat as you push the accelerator to the floor -- this is the place to shop. You only live once.