Step into the Peter's garage behind Peter's Body Shop on Bluffton Road and you will quickly discover the family shares a passion for beautiful cars. In particular, Corvettes and vintage Cadillacs.
Fredus Nelson Peters III, 83, or Pete for short, and his two son Nelson and Andy Peters all have Corvettes of varying vintages, but Peters senior also has a collection of vintage Cadillacs and one model T Ford too.
Having retired from his engineering job at GE, he holds degrees in electrical and mechanical engineering, a while ago he spends a fair amount of his time at the garage. Sitting in a blue recliner in the Cadillac bay he explained his love for the cars. When he was a teen his father, knowing his son was mechanically inclined, brought home a Ford model T engine and asked him to fix it. He and two of his friends turned it into a project and got it to run. He then began collecting pieces of model T's and before he knew it he had a car.
"I didn't have to rely on a ride from Momma to get to school," Peters said with a laugh.
After that he continued with his hobby of rebuilding cars, salvaging parts and pieces and putting them together. He loved the buttons and gadgets on the cars. When he entered the service he was stationed out in the pacific and saved up all his pay, dreaming of someday owning a Cadillac convertible. When he got out of the service he fell in love with the 1954 Eldorado Cadillac Convertible. His first attempt to purchase one fell short when the sales person tried to inflate the price after first agreeing on a lower one. Peters walked, 21 years later he began working on building his own.
To this day the car remains his favorite of the five Cadillac's he owns. The 1954 black convertible has a red interior. The car is actually the end result of four cars put together.
After working on putting the four cars together into his dream car for 10 years, his son Andy convinced him to hire one of his employees, Richard Edwards, to finish the job for him. The partnership continues and now his mechanic keeps the whole fleet of Peters cars in operating order, while continuing to work for the Peters Body Shop as well.
All together the family owns a blue 1956 Cadillac Eldorado, a black 1954 Cadillac Eldorado, a yellow 1953 Cadillac Eldorado a black 1922 Ford Model T, a red 1963 Chevrolet Corvette, a blue 1967 Chevrolet Corvette, a red 1968 Chevrolet Corvette, a blue 1967 Chevrolet Corvette a red 1968 Chevrolet Corvette, a Brown 1974 Chevrolet Corvette, a yellow 2000 Chevrolet Corvette a blue 1998 Chevrolet Corvette, a green 1958 Cadillac Eldorado and a red 2004 Cadillac XLR. The boys own Corvettes, Andy the two Blue Corvettes and Nelson the brown one. The rest of the car belong to their father.
"Everyone asks me why I own a Ford, but it's because a model T Ford was my first car," Peters said.
Growing up with a father who restored cars was interesting for the boys. Nelson Peters and his father both laughed as they recalled the afternoon Peters senior stepped out of the house and heard yelling coming from the garage. Apparently Cadillac designs their cars with an automatic trunk closure. Somehow Andy and Nelson Peters had both gotten their hand caught under the top of the trunk as it came down. After taking a close look at the boys Peters ran back into the house to get his camera so he could have a picture to remember the day.
Nelson Peters recalled the day he and his brother were traveling in the back seat in one of the cars when they discovered the electric cigarette lighter. They found they could make some really interesting circular patterns in the back seat cover. It wasn't to long before their dad, smelling burning leather discovered what they were up to.
A member of the Cadillac-LaSalle Club, and an engineer by training, Peters designed and wrote the specification standards manuals for each year, not unlike what the Corvette Car Club has. He divided the 100 years of Cadillac into 30 year increments.
On several shelves on one side of the garage are a collection of car trophies. Peters said he doesn't really enjoy cars shows that much, but despite his modesty there are a lot of first places awards in the collection. One of the more memorable awards he has is the people's choice award for the 1954 black Cadillac Eldorado that he won at a show during the opening of the Cadillac Museum in MI.