Entrepreneur finds success stemming from his love of car restoration

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Born in Lakeside, he moved to El Cajon at the age of 10. In high school his first car 1986 Volvo wagon. He always loved Volvos and a friend of his was in the Volvo club, built around 1960’s Volvos. At the same time he began his business, his love for these antique Volvos grew. He bought his first one, started fixing it up to sell it, and hired someone to help him who knew a lot about bodywork. He learned from him. This led to word about his restorations getting out to the Volvo club.

Born in Lakeside, he moved to El Cajon at the age of 10. In high school his first car 1986 Volvo wagon. He always loved Volvos and a friend of his was in the Volvo club, built around 1960’s Volvos. At the same time he began his business, his love for these antique Volvos grew. He bought his first one, started fixing it up to sell it, and hired someone to help him who knew a lot about bodywork. He learned from him. This led to word about his restorations getting out to the Volvo club.

So the 1960 Volvos that he had grown to love—began coming to him for restoration.

After being laid off as a project manager at an online marketing company, Joshua Cantor made a major decision. “I always wanted to own by own business,” he said.

Word of mouth was the catalyst in the growth of Evolve Custom Automotive Restoration, Canter said, and eight years later his El Cajon shop is full of antique cars in transformation. He started this venture at his duplex, in the middle of a neighborhood, with four employees and an average of nine cars always parked out front.

“My living room was stacked sky high with boxes of car parts with a walkway in the middle, so we obviously outgrew the house,” he said.

At his new location in El Cajon, Cantor stumbled upon it while buying a car out on the property. When he discovered there was space available, he took 5,000 sq. ft. and has been doing well ever since. And now, Evolve Car branches out beyond Volvos. It specialized in European cars, but is not limited to that with a 56 Ford sitting in the shop.

Cantor’s involvement in car clubs and his relationships in the community brought about the word of mouth referrals that make Evolve Car thrive. Currently among the several cars in the shop include a 1956 Jaguar, 1969 Alfa Romeo, and an extremely rare European car that cannot be announced until restoration is completed. With local partners in the community, Evolve Car leaves nothing undone in completely restoring its antique cars. Cantor said he is always on the lookout for people that have auto body shop experience. He said restoration experience is better, but is willing to pass on the knowledge as it was passed on to him. Most important, he said, is they have to want to learn and have the same passion of antique cars as the team.

An average project takes about six months from the stripping down of the car, repair it, and rebuild it, then to the final paint job.

“Most of the cars we finish are show quality level,” said Cantor.”Depending on what the owner wants we can do anywhere from a nice daily driver all the way to the ones that are going for the trophy.”

Cantor said he “tries not to” invest in cars, but once in a while, he can’t help himself. He just purchased a Fiat Multipla. “It’s a funny looking micro minivan kind of look, and I have a soft spot for micro cars. I also just bought a 1961 Triumph Herald convertible.”

Cantor said he loves working on these old cars.

“It means so much to the owners,” he said. “It’s like their baby, and we get to restore it”

A large part of car shows, not only his own, but many other of its restored cars are seen through these venues. “One that we’ve worked on is to be displayed in the San Diego Automotive Museum in its month-long exhibit this month. It is a 73 Volvo Sports Wagon,” he said.

Cantor said the care of the cars is the best thing about Evolve Car, generating from the team’s craze and affection for antique cars. He said there is tight quality assurance in its procedures so there are no loose strings in the process. Knowing exactly where you are in the process, that the parts and tools are ready, make what is intended to happen, actually happen, he said. This is not only good business practice, but also great customer service.

“We build our processes around a real respect for the car and the work that is being done to this piece of history,” he said.

Cantor can be seen at the local East County car shows and other events in the community. He can probably point to a few cars that are a result of Evolve Car’s expertise. EVOLVe Custom Automotive is located at 9841 Blossom Valley Rd., El Cajon, CA (858-204-8304), and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/evolvecustom.

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