Rebuilding and restoring in Holland

Published 10:46 pm Thursday, September 12, 2013

Most folks would not imagine a connection between Disney and Suffolk’s village of Holland.

For Chesapeake’s Randy Byrne, though, the sleepy, old community once reminded him of the interstate-bypassed town of Radiator Springs in Disney Pixar’s animated adventure, “Cars.”

Driving along Route 58 in Suffolk with his daughter in April 2012, Byrne recalled recently, he exited the main road at the Holland Bypass and said, “I’m going to show you what an interstate will do to a town.”

Among the vehicles East Side Rides has rebuilt and restored is the Chevrolet Biscayne that was parked in front of the company’s Holland building on Saturday. The parking lot was full of restored hotrods, and visitors enjoyed the chance to see memorabilia from the old Suffolk Raceway, as well.

Among the vehicles East Side Rides has rebuilt and restored is the Chevrolet Biscayne that was parked in front of the company’s Holland building on Saturday. The parking lot was full of restored hotrods, and visitors enjoyed the chance to see memorabilia from the old Suffolk Raceway, as well.

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They saw quiet streets, shuttered storefronts — and a corner service station that had literally been at the center of what was once a bustling little town.

And then he noticed the “For Sale” sign at the station.

On Saturday, Randy Byrne and his wife Lisa celebrated the opening in that old gas station of a new business that will celebrate the days when Holland was much busier and its cars more distinctive.

East Side Rides LLC, a custom car restoration company, had a lot full of hotrods for the ribbon-cutting ceremony held there on Saturday. There was also free food, musical entertainment and a sense of reunion among the folks attending.

The Byrnes are from Chesapeake, where Randy and Jerry Forbes have been restoring cars together in Byrne’s garage for some time. Both Randy and Lisa have full-time jobs — she’s a contracts manager, and he is a program manager at a local shipyard — but they’ve been wanting to take the restoration business to another level for some time, Lisa Byrne said.

“This has been a dream of our family and the Forbes family,” Randy Byrne told a group that gathered to help celebrate the business’ opening in Holland.

Though the restoration business helped pay for one son’s college education, Lisa Byrne described opening the Holland location as a “leap of faith.”

After working on cars in their home’s garage for 20 years, she said, “We saw this building and loved the community.”

The building, which was a gas station in the 1940s and a tire store in the 1970s, is the “perfect location,” she said.

The company does restorations ranging from performance upgrades to body work and upholstery to full, frame-up restorations, she said. One of its first projects in the new building is a 1955 Studebaker, which will include an upgrade from a 6-volt to a 12-volt electrical system.

“It’s good to see all this come to Holland,” said Sarah Leigh Jones, whose husband was the town of Holland’s last mayor before the town merged with Nansemond County in the early 1970s.

Jones and other Holland residents spent part of the afternoon perusing a small collection of Suffolk Raceway memorabilia on display in the building, and she helped the couple cut the ribbon for the new business, along with Suffolk City Councilman Jeffrey Gardy.

The business will be open from 6 to 9 p.m. Monday through Friday and from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturdays. For more information, call 532-6790 or email EastSideRidesLLC@gmail.com.