LAMBERTVILLE: Auto body shop has met ‘great people by accident’

Chris Auto Body does classic restorations, too

By John Tredrea, Special Writer
   This family-owned, 50-year-old, hands-on business — auto body work and classic car restoration is about as hands-on as you can get in this world, no? — has timely business savvy and an incisive sense of humor in its repertoire, too.
   It’s Chris’ Auto Body, at 1409 Route 179 in Lambertville.
   ”Chris’ Auto Body was founded by my father, Chris Affleck, in 1963,” said Fran Affleck, manager of sales and customer service. “We have been a family-owned and operated facility for over 50 years. My husband, Allen Affleck, and his brother Steve purchased the business from my father in 1991.”
   She said her father’s business philosophy is still the cornerstone of the business.
   ”His concept was unique, since typically body shops did collision repair or classic car restoration, but not both,” she said. “That’s still what we’re all about. “And Dad knew he could service two states here: New Jersey and Pennsylvania.”
   Evoking the wit that’s still on the scene at this business, Ms. Affeck said: “My father decided to sell the business to his sons to carry on his mission since times were changing, and he did not know how to operate a fax machine or computer, nor did he want to learn.”
   Nowadays, they keep that sense of humor alive with a phone number you can reach them at: 888-WRECKED. In their niche on the Lambertville Chamber of Commerce’s website, they say they’ve “been meeting great people by accident (this is a body shop, remember) since 1963.”
   As for contemporary business savvy in the way of service, they’ll not only fix your car — they’ll pick it up and deliver it back to you when it’s done.
   ”We like to think of ourselves as the almost-nothing-is-impossible-to-repair facility,” Ms. Affleck said.
   ”Our services are not limited to free pick up and delivery of driveable vehicles. Our core business is collision repair and classic car restoration.”
   Classic car restoration is a small percentage of their business, but one they hold dear nonetheless.
   Said Ms. Affleck: “We love hearing the wonderful emotional stories that drive customers to restore their cars . . . their memories of happy times as a child, of how they met their husband or wife in the car, that it was the first car their dad bought them, o how it was the dream car they always wanted, but didn’t have the financial resources to obtain until they were older.
   ”Seeing the joy in their faces when the car is restored is an amazing feeling.”