Foreign car service moves to larger digs Business volume expected to double GLEN BURNIE

December 30, 1992|By Andrea F. Siegel | Andrea F. Siegel,Staff Writer

They come from such diverse places as Cape Cod, the British Embassy, Annapolis and Glen Burnie to have Dennis Pye and his crew service their upscale automobiles.

Mr. Pye is the owner of 25-year-old City Imports Ltd., which moved a few weeks ago to the Glen Burnie Industrial Park, where Mr. Pye expects to double the volume of his work.

For more than a decade, the business had leased 6,000 square feet of space on Crain Highway. The new digs he bought has 9,550 square feet, and Mr. Pye expects to be able to work on 30 cars at a time here.

Inside the warehouse-type building are a host of Jaguars and other imports, some there for routine service work, others for painstaking restoration of cars that are no longer in production.

"We start from the frame up and build the car," Mr. Pye said.

Only about 30 percent of the shop's work is in restoration; the rest is the bread and butter servicing of foreign cars, from Toyotas to Rolls Royces.

But here, a person can drop $10,000 on a restoration that takes months. It includes finding after-market parts across the continent in California and across the ocean in England -- and if those aren't available, Mr. Pye has them made. It includes reupholstery, which takes Larry Custer a week to cut and sew. And it includes body work and repainting.

There's a 1953 MG-TD, there for engine work. And a 1969 MG-BGT, there for just about everything.

"It's all completely rusted out," Mr. Pye said. A new floor, rocker panel and quarter panels have been placed on the driver's side, and the passenger's side awaits similar treatment.

Tucked in the back is a 1937 Lagonda. "We got it running. The customer is going to do the rest of the work," Mr. Pye said.

The longest restoration job -- on a Jaguar XKE -- took him eight months, he said.

"You have to have patience and perseverance," the Severna Park resident explained.

The work requires attention to detail, with emphasis on cleaning and repairing what's there, rather than replacing components.

That Mr. Pye, 51, specializes in imported cars, especially British ones, is no accident.

Born in Liverpool, he apprenticed for five years at British Leyland before coming to the United States in 1963. He was 22 years old, and his wife, Rachael, had a relative who helped him land a job

at Capitol Motors of Annapolis.

He also worked as service director for Gladding Rolls Royce and Toyota City, both of Glen Burnie, before opening his shop in 1977.

The shop employs five mechanics, one upholstery worker and Mr. Pye, who prefers working on an ignition system to sitting in his office. "I get tired of doing this paperwork," he said.

Among the employees is Walter Stallings, who has been with Mr. Pye for 23 years, and newcomer Tim Stevenson, Mr. Pye's son-in-law.

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