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Classic car shop brings life back to historic Citrus Heights building

Rich Newey stands outside his shop, Route 40 Classics, which opened at the site of the former Angelo Orsi Olive Oil Company at 6008 Auburn Blvd. // Thomas J. Sullivan

By Thomas J. Sullivan
Route 40 Classics, a new classic car restoration and repair shop, has opened in the site of one of Citrus Heights’ historic commercial landmarks: the former Angelo Orsi Olive Oil Company at 6008 Auburn Blvd., on the southern end of the city between Greenback Lane and Manzanita Avenue.

Rich Newey, the shop’s owner, leased the 19,380-square-foot corrugated metal landmark, built in 1933, late last spring. Its last commercial business use was as an antique shop, which closed in 2018.

“Our goal is to become a place where enthusiasts can take their classic cars for quality work at an affordable price,” Newey said, noting that his shop “isn’t limited to any specific era or manufacturer.”

The business name comes from the original “Route 40” road designation of Auburn Boulevard before the construction of Interstate 80.

Newey, a graduate of Del Campo High School, grew up in nearby Fair Oaks. His first vehicle was a 1969 Datsun Model 520 pickup truck. The definition of what is a classic vehicle, in his opinion, is quite open.

After 35 years, Newey recently found himself out of work as a professional auto auctioneer, and in his words, “just decided the time was right” to create a business out of what he’s always enjoyed, that being classic cars. He owns a few of his own, including a 1931 Ford Model ‘A’ Victoria.

Although open to the public since late fall, Route 40 Classics hasn’t had a public opening event, Newey said. He plans to make his business presence known on social media and his new website.

The Angelo Orsi Olive Oil Company was once considered the first major olive oil processing facility of its kind in Citrus Heights, according to Larry Fritz, president of the Citrus Heights Historical Society,  

“It’s honestly great to see the old building come back to life. We hope to work with Mr. Newey to celebrate the building’s past as he moves forward with his new business,” Fritz said.

Newey, who has an Orsi Olive Oil can beside his office desk, welcomes the historical society’s help in the display of old photos and other historical material in his shop. The Orsi Olive Oil Company continues in business through an on-line store at orsioliveoil.com.

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Route 40 Classics services include both light restorations and project completions. “We don’t have the capacity to perform complete classic restorations at this time, but we’re here for a customer further along in a project who needs to get it properly finished,” Newey said.

Other professional services include body and paint, electrical troubleshooting and suspension work.

During a recent interview, an early 1960s Lincoln Continental was getting the hydraulic system of its convertible top serviced in time for spring. The day before, a ’62 bubble top Chevrolet Impala had received front end suspension work.

“There’s not that much competition for specialty classic auto repair and service within the limits of Citrus Heights,” Newey said. “Our workload is beginning to increase as new customers have discovered us. We see at least a car or two a week coming in for repairs.”

Other services Newey offers include the installation of lowering air bags, disc brake conversions, after market air conditioning, parts installation, detailing and practical advice.

Sublet services offered by Route 40 Classics through other local businesses include upholstery, glass, custom exhaust, hand pin-striping and tires and wheels. Newey himself has 40 years of experience in buying, selling and restoring classic cars.

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“Many classic car owners say they want to upgrade their vehicles for better handling and safety,” he said. “Disc brake conversions for classic 1960s muscle cars, originally equipped with manual drum brakes are more common now.”

Newey said he first considered leasing the vacant Orsi building while across the street at Cline Lines, a commercial pinstriping studio on Auburn Boulevard.

“I grew up in the area. The old plant is such an historic building and it was time that it was put back into use again,” he said. “I thought the Auburn Boulevard location would be a great spot for a new business such as Route 40 Classics, which already has a strong automotive focus with other dealers located nearby.”

The building’s owner told Newey last January that it wasn’t yet available to rent, but that he would let him know when it would be. That opportunity came late last May.

Newey has signed a lease to two-thirds of the building. His shop fills two bays of the building and he’s hoping to expand into the third.

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“The antique store that was in business there was rarely open. Its owner had a public auction and an estate sale to clear out the property when it was closed, but the building was chock full of unsold material.

“It took months to clean it all out before the renovations inside could even begin,” he said. Overgrown exterior landscaping also had to be removed in the high summer heat.

Inside, the building was pressure washed throughout and the concrete floors were cleaned and sealed. Bright new lighting showcases several classic cars on display inside. Interior wood frame walls are decorated with old license plates and vintage automotive related memorabilia and signage that Newey has collected through the years.

Layers of faded paint which covered most of the original Angelo Orsi Olive Oil Co. letters were carefully removed and are now clear coated to showcase the building’s original heritage.

“The letters ‘Co’ are still covered since we’re not yet leasing that portion of the building,” said Newey. “When we have the opportunity to do so, then we’ll finish restoring that portion of the original sign.”

Display cases which the antique store had left behind will be re-utilized to sell merchandise, including t-shirts, die-cast vehicles and other auto-related items which will be managed by his brother Tim. A new office space and customer reception area overlooking the vehicle service bay features a couch from a ’57 Chevy.

“It’s still a work in progress, and there’s much more signs and old license plates to put up on the walls,” he said.

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Newey said Route 40 Classics hopes to add service staff as the business continues to grow. His shop employs three, including his brother Tim.

In time, he sees his shop becoming an important local go-to shopping destination for Citrus Heights classic automotive enthusiasts who seek specialty restoration services and repairs to their vintage wheels.

“We’re located across the street from one of the premier automotive pin-stripers, Clines Lines, in the greater Sacramento area,” Newey said. Clines Lines at 6001 Auburn Blvd. was founded by Mike Clines and is now co-owned by Dillon Proctor.

Cline’s automotive pin-striping professional pedigree extends back to the Los Angeles-area customizers and hot rodders of the late 1950s and 1960s, including the Von Dutch and George Barris, Newey said.

“Just further down on Auburn Boulevard is American Pastimes, a well-known hot rod and muscle car shop between Garfield and Greenback,” he said. “Their customers, now seeing our own classic cars on display outside, are stopping by to see what we’re all about, and then asking if we can install their parts for them.”

 “You’ll find quite a few classic cars and hot rods parked throughout the garages of Citrus Heights,” he said. “We’re just here to help keep them on the road.”

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