STROUD, OKLAHOMA — Pete Sawatzky says you could build a whole car with his inventory, but not just any car.
The parts he carries in his store only make Chevrolet’s, mostly from the mid-1950’s.
Sawatzky’s dad owned a salvage yard in Cushing, OK.
“That’s where I got my start,” he says.
Pete learned to build cars early on.
When he came of driving age he eventually settled on a 1955 Chev and never let go.
“When I was 16 years old my dad gave me a choice between a ’64 and a ’55. I made a mistake and chose the ’64.”
Somewhere along the road, Pete also started collecting all the cool promotional stuff Chevrolet used to produce, the auto butlers, the dealer promos, the pens and matches, and much more.
Pete even has an example of Chevrolet perfume.
“All this stuff in these cases is probably one of a kind,” remarks a visitor.
“Yes,” says Pete. “Most of it is one of a kind stuff.”
The front of his store houses Pete’s collections for viewing only.
The back is a warehouse for old Chevrolet parts.
After a lifetime of building Chevy’s from the 50’s, Sawatzky became an expert.
He calls his store Route 66 Restorations.
“It’s stuff you never think about,” says a visitor of the thousands of different parts that make up a car.
“Right,” agrees Sawatzky. “Until you’re looking for it right in the middle of a project.”
If he doesn’t have the part, he can make it.
Pete also has connections across the country stamping out old parts, the ones GM won’t make.
A lot of the parts he sells aren’t for sale anywhere else.
“I’m the only guy that makes a lot of it,” he says.
Pete has two kinds of customers who come in.
The guy who’s restoring a car.
“A lot of them look like they’re going to Wal-Mart,” he says.
The others are the touristy types who roll into Stroud on Rt. 66.
His collection of ‘Auto-Americana’ keeps them busy for hours.
His collection of parts keeps those mid-50’s machines rolling.