Upon first impression, Concours Cars in Old Colorado City may come across more as a museum than a fine European auto shop.
A walk through the company’s facilities along the 2400 block of West Cucharras Street is a veritable trek through time: from the streets of post-war France in a black ’55 Citroen Traction Avant, to the sunny beaches of Miami in a red ’77 Ferrari 308 GTS and to modernity in a sleek, late-model Aston Martin Vantage made famous by James Bond.
Among the hanging spider plants in the garage — with their floral affinity for carbon monoxide fumes — are tools, trophies and shop owner Mark Weiner, who has operated the family business for 36 years.
Weiner was born with a genetic predisposition to engineering.
“I come from a long line of engineers,” he said of his East Coast bloodline.
His father worked as an analog engineer on guidance systems for U.S. missile defense and the Space Shuttle program; his grandfather was a longtime civil engineer; and Weiner himself took to mechanical engineering at a young age.
“I was interested in machinery, so I took some engineering classes in high school,” he said. “I decided I wouldn’t be stuck in a cubicle for the rest of my life.”
From there, Weiner’s interest in mechanics and his love of European automobiles catalyzed a career. He went to college in New York, got married and worked a few jobs before the young couple discovered yet another love. The 22-year-old and his bride road-tripped across the USA, visiting nearly every national park they came across in Colorado and California.
“And that’s when it happened,” he said. “We fell in love with Woodland Park.”
Soon after the epiphany, the Weiners moved to Teller County and Mark found work at a dealership on East Platte Avenue where he tuned BMWs, Fiats and Ferraris until deciding to go his own way in 1978.
Since then, his business has grown to eight employees who service around 15 cars a week with software and technology in the forefront of an ever-changing industry.
But after nearly four decades of success, Weiner is honest about the drawbacks of the local market and the reason he chooses to keep his business in Colorado Springs.
“This is not a good place to have my business,” he said. “I love living here, and that’s why we’re here. But if this business was in California or Florida, I could have retired a long time ago.”
Investment in hard times
Weiner said that business is cyclical, and can at times be lackluster in a county where only 5 percent of the vehicles are European (according to Census data). And though economic woes have been a part of many American lives, certain services he offers become more popular during recessions.
“Whenever the economy gets bad, the older car restoration business usually gets better,” he said. “When the stock market crashes, people look for other places to put their money, and cars can be a good investment.”
But that requires education on the part of the technicians who help clients weigh the pros and cons of purchasing collector cars.
“I don’t want someone owning something that is essentially for their entertainment and pleasure and then say, ‘Oh, I wish I knew that before I bought the car,’ ” Weiner said, adding that cars worth less than $150,000 aren’t worth investing in merely for monetary gain. “So I spend a lot of time educating people.”
For those who do invest in a European car, Concours will do whatever work is needed as long as it is in the best interest of the customer, the machine and the business, Weiner said.
As one of the only shops in Southern Colorado that provides services both for owners of antique luxury autos and advanced modern sports cars — that entails a wide body of work.
“The only shops in the country that do all of what we do are very few and far between,” he said.
“With the advent of the Internet, we’ve been getting customers from farther and farther away.”
– Mark Weiner
Although a large portion of the company’s business involves the maintenance and repair of expensive exotics, Weiner said you don’t have to own a $150,000 Alfa Romeo to get service: Concours will work on anything European.
Along with maintenance, repair, customization and race preparation — via its Concours Motorsport division — the company performs pre-purchase inspections and facilitates the occasional sale between customers.
Weiner, who moved to the 7,200-square-foot warehouse at 2414 W. Cucharras St. in 1981, also began leasing a large storefront across the street last year to house vehicles undergoing work and provide seasonal storage for clients.
The exciting edge of what the world of gearheads has become now lies on the shoulders of the founder’s son, 27-year-old Brett Weiner.
“When people ask me what I do, I tell them that I’m in the entertainment industry,” Brett said. “I really enjoy it.”
Since Brett returned five years ago after college in Fort Collins, he has helped the business expand its online presence and create partnerships with racing organizations.
What was once a word-of-mouth community of tight-knit car collectors has exploded into an all-inclusive global network of aficionados. Mark said company’s website and Facebook page have done wonders to expand the market for Concours.
“With the advent of the Internet, we’ve been getting customers from farther and farther away,” he said, noting a Ferrari owner in Vancouver.
The business works with racing organizations to tune high-performance vehicles, which Brett said can be lucrative in this part of the country. The groups include Audi Performance Racing and Volkswagen Racing, for which the shop is the largest distributor in Southern Colorado.
“Thankfully, APR allows us to do the high-altitude calibrations, so we’re their highest North American dealer — we can go up to 14,000 feet,” Brett said.
Keeping up with the times
Mark said keeping up with the pace of new technology is the most significant challenge that the automotive industry faces, but they diligently do their dogged best.
“We constantly take courses and we constantly read and study and use numerous resources for the work that we do,” he said. The shop has been a Bosch Service Center since 1980.
While Brett works primarily with the tuning and modification of late-model German cars, his father oversees many of the older projects. He said the most enjoyable part of his job is restoring, retrofitting and modernizing antique vehicles to increase user-friendliness and restore beloved family treasures.
“That kind of stuff is just so cool,” he said. “Fixing up old cars so they can run and be used is great … and then there are the new cars — modifying them so that they perform properly is very satisfying.”
Sitting in the small office adjacent to the shop, Brett nodded his head emphatically when the topic arose of taking over for his father one day.
“That’s the plan,” he said.
“Well,” his father added, I guess there’s the answer.”
Address: 2414 W. Cucharras St.
Phone: (719) 473-6288
Years in business: 36