Jerry Criscione is a happy man. He’s doing what he loves—working on cars. This is what he’s enjoyed most in life ever since he was a kid tinkering with cars with his father and grandfather. He enjoyed it so much and was so good at it, that it became his life’s work. He learned the basics and got his work ethic from his grandfather and even—to this day—has some of his tools and uses them. He went on for formal training and certification to do car collision repairs and made his living doing this all his adult life.

He set up his shop at 801 W. Grant Highway in Marengo in 2011. As always, he was running a business doing collision work. But also as always, he was doing car restoration work on the side. That was where his heart always was. Restoring classic cars gets Criscione’s blood singing.

Recently, he made it official. He is no longer taking heavy collision work. He has decided to end the frustration of dealing with insurance companies and to make his car restoration business his real business rather than his side business.

He’s not doing anything new and he’s not starting out “new.” Criscione is well known around the country in the world of classic cars. Many of his cars have won awards in car shows. Many are rare, one-of-a-kind models.

Criscione has a few framed photos of winning cars, sent to him by happy owners, but he is not really interested in showing cars. He’s happy when his cars are admired, but he states emphatically, “My pleasure is in the art of building. Once it’s done I’m ready to go on to the next one. I love to restore.”Criscione has been married 30 years and has five children. He says he’s always made a good living, but making money hasn’t ever been his first motivation. Ironically, over the years he has found that doing collision work does not necessarily bring in a large profit margin. He has often seen his “side job hobby” return a better profit. So, now, he does not have company growth as a goal.

“I don’t want to outgrow this place,” he remarked. One reason is that he is such a perfectionist—like his grandfather was. “I want to work on every aspect of the restoration with my own hands, with hand tools. I still have my grandfather’s anvil, and even use it sometimes!” Criscione is adamant— car restoration is an art form.

He is also adamant about his future plans. He will work until he can’t. “Retire? How can you retire from something you love?"

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