Cary Angel built a near cult following for his auto restoration business at Vans and Customs during a 33-year run.
Starting April 1, the business, which also does collision repair and paint work at 721 7th Ave. W., Bradenton, will have a new owner, Kip Zimmerman.
Angel grew up near Cleveland and got his first car, a Volkswagen Beetle, when he was 14, leading to a life-long love affair with the iconic German car.
“Where I grew up all the guys were into cars,” Angel said of his interest in auto work.
While Beetles might be his first love, Vans and Customs has restored, painted or repaired just about everything from street trollies to an airplane.
“He has done about nine cars for me over the past 28 years, said Ric Yrabedra, who swears by the quality of work at Vans and Customs.
A 1967 Pontiac GTO restored for Yrabedra by Vans and Customs won a best of show award.
“He also restored a 442 (Oldsmobile) convertible for me, a ’73 Corvette, and my grandpa’s old truck,” Yrabedra said. “He is meticulous, he’s kind and he is a guy who never, ever raises his voice when something goes wrong. He is generous and fair. I think he is a saint.”
He is meticulous, he’s kind and he is a guy who never, ever raises his voice when something goes wrong. He is generous and fair. I think he is a saint.
Ric Yrabedra, a Vans and Customs customer for nearly 30 years, on owner Cary Angel
Angel moved to Manatee County in 1977 to help his father-in-law, who had a thriving wholesale auto parts business.
“Customers would come in and buy a part and ask if he would install it for them,” Angel said.
Eventually, the parts business waned, and Angel opened Vans and Customs at its current location in 1984.
At one time, Angel customized a lot of vans for local auto dealers, but the business evolved to focus primarily on collision repair, paint and restoration.
Vans and Customs prospered with a customer base that was comfortable and happy with its work, and grew through word-of-mouth endorsements.
Steven Angel has worked with his father for 18 years, taking the lead on painting vehicles.
“It’s been a good ride, being a staple in the community for so long,” Steven Angel said. “But my dad can’t work on cars forever.”
Steven Angel is now weighing his options after the company goes to a new owner and may return to the restaurant business.
Cary Angel will soon be 64. After he moves on from Vans and Customs, he plans to scale back and focus on just a few projects at a time for clients at his home in Parrish.
Angel started hand-building a VW race car in 2005 and didn’t complete it for nine years, in part because his business kept him so busy.
“I wanted to get away from the daily grind,” Cary Angel said.
Zimmerman, owner of Rare and Unique Restorations in Sarasota, has known the Angels for about 25 years.
“I plan to keep the business the same, including restorations,” he said.
Ric Yrabedra said that one of the last projects Angel will tackle at Vans and Customs is on his Corvette now in the shop.
“He has done work for a lot of people in this community. He has touched a lot of people,” Yrabedra said.
For more information about Vans and Customs call 941-747-6114.