Byron Carlson's weekends were much different than most of the other students he attended college with at the University of Texas (UTexas.edu), located in Austin, Texas.
Most weekends Carlson would leave the campus to return home to Arlington, Texas. He spent those days earning money to pay for his education, albeit in an atypical fashion.
"When everyone else was flipping hamburgers, I was buying and selling cars," explained Carlson. "I had a passion for English vehicles. Every weekend I'd strip one down."
Discovering his hobby could be quite profitable, Carlson opened Sportscar Warehouse in Arlington in 1980; and concentrated his efforts on the used auto parts business even after graduating from Texas with a business degree in 1981.
Sportscar Warehouse (SportscarWarehouse.com) grew from a small warehouse that served British vehicle owners in the Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas area to a full-service 25,000-square-foot facility that repairs, restores and sells new and used auto parts for every British marque.
Popular English Rides
Austin Healey, Jaguar E-Type and MG MGB are some of the more popular autos Sportscar Warehouse offers, noted Carlson.
"Austin Healey has jumped up on the list," he said. "They are beginning to sell for more than the E-Type now. They're going for $80,000 or more."
Sportscar Warehouse can be a resource for new buyers of vintage British vehicles as well. The business' staff offers inspections and appraisals in which they search vehicles for hidden electrical or mechanical problems.
Once a purchase is made, Sportscar Warehouse can also help insure the vehicle, noted Carlson. Some insurance companies require a professional appraisal before they will provide owners with classic car insurance. Sportscar Warehouse provides detailed appraisals that will satisfy the insurance company's requirements, and help the customer establish the market value of their vehicle, he added.
Filling The Veteran Role
Carlson said the field of British auto dealers has thinned recently, bumping Sportscar Warehouse into a type of leadership role within the industry.
"A lot of the older guys in our field are retiring," explained Carlson. "It's sad; I used to go talk to them for guidance. Now we're becoming the older guys people come to. It's a smaller market, but we're still getting vehicles from all over. We keep getting larger. And a lot of kids are taking on those types of vehicles. It's great to see the next generation."
Sportscar Warehouse currently employs five people, and nets 20 percent of its sales through the Internet. The rest of the business' sales are generally within the southern United States, noted Carlson. Sportscar Warehouse offers service and restoration, performance upgrades, customizations, mechanical rebuilds and paint and body work. The staff is also willing to help owners complete their own restoration work with advice and access to parts.
Sportscar Warehouse either hosts or participates in four area British auto shows annually, and is an active member in regional and national auto clubs. The facility will host the All British Car Show at the end of March. The show will feature an open house and an educational technical session. Several Sportscar Warehouse customers formed an auto club, the British Owners Group, in the early 1990s, noted Carlson.
"It's a group that gets together and cruises around in their classic British vehicles," he explained. "There's some rallying; it's a lot of fun."
Owners: Byron Carlson
Location: Arlington, Texas
Years In Business: 32