Life Style

D.L. George Historic Motorcars Is a Dream for Auto Enthusiasts in Cochranville

Photos by Jim Graham

Vintage beauty comes in many forms at Chester County’s D.L. George Historic Motorcars.

There’s plenty to catch your eye at D.L. George Historic Motorcars—just not outside. The shop is housed in a nondescript former mushroom house in Cochranville, its cinderblock structure painted a low-key tan with blue trim. Established in 1982, DLG is a full-service restoration haven for historic European motorcars from the prewar and early postwar eras. Many are sports and racing vehicles owned by the world’s most demanding collectors. You can find them exhibited at Pebble Beach, Villa d’Este and other concours events, raced at esteemed tracks like Lime Rock and Laguna Seca, and rallied at Mille Miglia and other historic locales.

DLG’s 14,000-square-foot facility is home to a full-scale museum. Color, details, research—everything is precise here. One beauty, a Dino 246 GT Ferrari, is being painted in “viola metallizzato”—purple to most of us. It arrived in boxes from North Carolina. During the pandemic, the client disassembled it, then became overwhelmed. Already here for 10 months, it took 10 spray-outs to match the color to its original specs. The car will remain at DLG for at least another year.

Most of the owners who come to DLG have collection managers, and they don’t seem to care how much the work costs. “I can give a range—but most don’t ask,” George says.

David L. George II started the business in Frazer and moved here in 1990 with just six local clients. Among them was the late Ray Carr, a notorious and extravagant collector from Chester Springs. These days, cars from 40 to 50 clients, each with an average value of $1 million, arrive from all over the world.

Of the 25–30 jobs DLG is working on at any one time, half are in for service and half for restoration. A service call can take weeks. Restoration can require a few years. A current client’s BMW 328 was factory-built to race at Le Mans and other major European venues in 1939. The rebuild could take 7,000–8,000 hours. “Nothing’s here for a day,” says George, noting that a typical restoration consumes between 4,000 and 6,000 hours.

DLG’s founder was 71 when he died in 2021 of ALS. He kept working until 13 days before he died. “We were best friends,” says his 35-year-old son. “I grew up here. This unintentionally became my thing, but I know a lot. Some guys have been here longer than I’ve been alive. It’s an experienced team.”

Dick Vermeil lives nearby. He’s had two of his vintage automobiles restored at DLG. “He’s a good mechanic,” says George of the NFL Hall of Famer. “He was such good friends with dad. Now we’re close.”

Most of the owners who come to DLG have collection managers, and they don’t seem to care how much the work costs. “I can give a range—but most don’t ask,” George says. “People who have these cars have a lot of these cars, and they don’t work if they’re not maintained. They rotate them, so they always have at least one that’s working.”

When he began as a full-time employee for his father in 2010, George mostly handled administrative work. On the payroll since 2002, he’s swept miles of shop floor, emptied trash cans and cleaned parts his whole life. “I have a personal interest in keeping this place going way beyond it being a business,” says George. “It’s my dad’s legacy.”

His father never advertised—he didn’t need to. Even now, there’s limited visibility. “Dad didn’t even have a sign out,” his son says.

All 10 of DLG’s employees have multiple talents. Workers come and go as they please. Some start at 3:30 a.m. and have an earlier afternoon. Josh Baldwin (of the Baldwin’s Book Barn family in West Chester) is workshop manager, a mechanical technician and the lucky road-test man. “We try to get them right and get them out the door,” he says.

“The team is doing the best work for what we do in the United States. There are less than a dozen shops like us here. There are more in Europe, but there are more cars here because of the wealth.”
—David George

DLG’s 14,000-square-foot facility is home to a full-scale museum. Color, details, research—everything is precise here.

“We have to get them right,” George interjects. “We always get them right.”

Before DLG, Baldwin worked for 18 years as a mechanic at a BMW dealership. “I’ve learned a lot,” he says, hovering over a 1927 Bentley 3 Litre with nickel-plated accents. “It’s a devoted team. We all float and help when it comes to getting something done.”

George notes that his dad always hired people with a natural aptitude. “But they’d acquire experience and skill sets if they had a willingness to learn,” he says. “The team is doing the best work for what we do in the United States. There are less than a dozen shops like us here. There are more in Europe—but there are more cars here because of the wealth.”

Mike Gehron helped build the DLG facility when it was still a mushroom house. Now, he builds cars as a machinist and fabricator. “The transition [from father to son] has been really good,” Gehron says. “It had everyone wondering for a while, but we couldn’t ask for anything better.”

The facility still houses George’s first car—a 1924 Amilcar CGS3 his dad gave him for his sixth birthday. “You can’t find cars like this anymore,” he says. “I enjoy this, and I want our people to enjoy this. It’s work, but it’s pretty cool, too.”

Visit dlgeorge.com.

Related: This Chester County Barn Is a Hub for Entertaining

J.F. Pirro

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