An avid fan of the Italian-made Alfa Romeo, Lee Scovanner just laughed when someone suggested he take over a failing foreign auto repair shop in Sycamore Township.

That was more than 15 years ago, and since then Scovanner has turned European Auto Specialists Ltd., at 4453 Sycamore Road, into a premier automobile service shop for European and other automotive makes.

“We’re kind of an atypical shop,” he says. “More than half of our work is people’s play toys and the rest is daily drivers.”

Stroll around European Auto Specialists’ shop and you’re likely to see Jaguars, Mercedes-Benzes and Porcshes alongside Cadillacs and Toyotas.

The shop recently tuned up a rare 1925 Rolls Royce Phantom for an elderly owner who couldn’t drive it any more.

“It hadn’t been driven in a few years and the owner’s son asked us to get it running so it could be sold,” says Scovanner. “It didn’t need a lot. We got it up and running and took it to a detail shop and had it cleaned up. It looks beautiful now.”

European Auto has developed a niche in the local auto repair market, but it has its plusses and minuses.

“We get labeled for doing the odd-ball stuff, something you won’t take any place else, but I don’t like it because there isn’t enough of that kind of work. It limits us. People think that’s all we work on, but we do oil changes on VW Passats,” he says.

In today’s highly digitized, computerized automotive world, old fashioned auto mechanics who know innately how internal combustion engines work are becoming increasingly rare. Even some local auto dealers use European Auto Specialists to service rare autos they’ve taken in trade before offering them for resale.

“There are not a lot of people who know how to work on these cars. Like that Rolls, working on a car like that intimidates a lot of people. It doesn’t intimidate my guys,” says Scovanner.

Particularly head mechanic Bob Vollmer. “Nothing intimidates him,” says Scovanner. “He has a knack on how all things mechanical work. You could even take your vacuum cleaner to him and he’d fix it. Know what? I have.”

Scovanner, who grew up not far from where his shop is today, says he’s always been a car guy. At Indian Hill High School, he drove a Mercedes-Benz 200 diesel. “It was the slowest thing in the world, but boy, was it economical.”

He got his first taste of European sports cars a few years later when a cousin bought an Alfa Romeo Spider and took him for a ride.

“I thought, ‘Some day I’m going to own one of these cars,’ and two years later I did,” says Scovanner who worked in his family’s trucking business and sold residential real estate before buying the auto repair shop.

Today, Scovanner, who owns four Alfas not counting the parts cars, is still a fan.

“They are a real fun sports car, and they handle really great compared to a lot of four-cylinder sport cars,” he says.

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