5 July 2006

Small Shop Offers Big Experience

The Auto Clinic, located in Neenah, Wis., has been around for 20 years under different owners. The first owner started restoring old Jaguars. Another owner specialized in repairing MGBs. Jim Nash, a mechanic who worked there for years was “straight off the boat from England,” says Gordon Skog, owner of Auto Clinic. “And he helped us build a reputation for fixing British cars.”

Skog has owned the shop for nearly 12 years, and he adds to the shop’s reputation by working on all types of cars. On any day, you might find a completed Porsche 911 Cabriolet or an MG Midget inside, but don’t be surprised if you also spot a Corvette, a Nova or a Studebaker Lark.

“With a big British car club in this area, it’s been kind of exciting,” says Skog. “My son Joshua owns a ’61 Austin-Healey Sprite and belongs to the club, so we were asked to host a tech session in March because of our long reputation for fixing British cars.”

Like larger restoration shops, the Auto Clinic will tackle big jobs from engine teardowns to full-blown mechanical and sheet metal restorations. The Clinic has also been asked to de-tune a late ‘60s Corvette. “Somebody turned it into an over-performer with add-on stuff and it wasn’t street-able,” Skog advised. “We put in things like a milder cam and a different intake manifold.”

Another 100 percent all-American car that Gordon restored was a six-cylinder Chevy II from the early ‘60s. “The owner of that car had his Jaguar XJ6 serviced here regularly,” Skog pointed out. “The Chevy II has been in his family for years, so he restored the body and brought the car to us to us to get the engine done and have it mechanically restored.”

Skog has his own British project vehicle – a 1969 Series 1 Land Rover. The truck’s original frame was so rusty that Skog ordered a better one from California. He is currently mounting the restored pieces of the original body and running gear on the new frame. “I’ve completely restored two uni-body cars, my Porsche and a 1972 Datsun 240Z,” says Gordon. “But, the Land Rover will be my first personal frame-off restoration.”

The Auto Clinic has a storage building next door that holds about 30 vehicles, about half of which are repaired cars – like a Rolls-Royce and Mercedes 220S convertible – waiting for their owners to pick them up.

The more people hear about Skog’s shop, the more requests he gets from people wanting to buy cars. “I picked up a dealer license and started playing around with it as AC Auto Sales,” he said. “But I found that it’s a totally different business selling cars rather than fixing them, and I didn’t have the time to do it myself.” Although he does sell a car once in a while, Skog prefers taking them apart and putting them back together better than new.
For more information on the Auto Clinic, call 920-722-7990.

John “Gunner” Gunnell is the automotive books editor at Krause Publications in Iola, Wis., and former editor of Old Cars Weekly and Old Cars Price Guide.

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