Classic cars, trucks get new life at restoration business in west Steamboat Springs
January 13, 2018
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Two former law enforcement officers in Routt County have started new dream jobs in a garage in west Steamboat Springs.
And it’s a true family business.
Steve and Melissa Baumgartner, along with their children and grandchildren, run a business that specializes in restoring classic cars, trucks and motorcycles.
Fab Rats will also do mechanical work on custom classics and older-model vehicles.
“I’ll restore anything,” Steve Baumgartner said Friday. “I’m hoping to build this into something that gives Steamboat a name for cars. Our hope is we see all these old cars running around Steamboat.”
This week, the Baumgartners were restoring a 1965 Ford F100 “to the hilt.”
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The restoration was so authentic parts in the engine bay had their original gold color. The work only strayed from the original automobile parts and design slightly to add newer, better brakes to improve safety on the truck.
And the Baumgartners don’t just paint over the rust.
Sandblasting bays in their shop bring decades old pieces of sheet metal and automobile frames back to life by removing 50 to 60 years of rust and wear.
Here, the Baumgartners bring cars from the golden age of automobiling back to life.
Fab Rats also saved the original roof of a 1952 GMC truck that was crushed when a tree fell on top of it.
“I’m doing world-class restorations,” Steve said.
The Baumgartners say they can match and exceed the restoration work that has become a focus of popular television shows.
Asked about other memorable projects, Melissa said, “they’re all our favorites because they are all classic and custom.”
The business also does mechanical work on all older model vehicles and motorcycles.
Steve Baumgartner’s decades of mechanical experience, which started when he was a 15-year-old at a Harley Davidson shop in Rocky Ford, is definitely rubbing off on the entire family.
His 3-year-old grandson Eddie successfully used a wrench to remove one of the wheels on a rolling stool in the shop.
Before starting Fab Rats, Steve used to work as an officer with Colorado Parks and Wildlife and Melissa worked at the Routt County Sheriff’s Office.
The business was founded in 2016. Steve said his son Michael put a lot of work into the business in its early days. Michael died in a car accident last year.
“Michael put so much heart and soul into this place,” Steve said.