Memory Lane owner and operator Derek Willemsen has a passion for cars, especially classic cars and custom cars. It has been that way since he was a kid.
"I always thought I would end up building one for myself," said Willemsen.
Now Willemsen builds them for other car enthusiasts. It all started when he was hired to work at Memory Lane Resto and Rod, with business founder Ray Ouellete. Ray started the shop after retiring from RM Auctions and Restoration in Chatham-Kent, which is one of the most prestigous and well respected restoraiton houses in the world. Ray thought the business would focus on automtoive collectibles, but added automtoive restorations to what was supposed to be a hobby business and it was the restorations that becamse the cornerstone of the business.
Unfortunately Ray passed away just a few short years after starting "Memory Lane Resto and Rod". Derek had become an integral part of the "Memory Lane" family and wound up purchasing the business from Ray's wife. Today he continues to run "Memory Lane Resto and Rod" in part as a tribute to Ray who was his mentor.
"We do complete restorations and partial restorations," said Derek. "We always try to do the best work possible, but it depends on the customer. Some people want a show car. Others just a good driver".
Derek recently moved the business to a new location in the town of Kent Bridge Ontario. The facility is fully equipped and the "Memory Lane" team is able to offer complete services for maintenance and automotive restoration, from general tune ups, to painting on site, and even high end custom upholostery work.
The shop is becoming well known across Canada and the U.S.
"We have new clients coming to us now from across the United States,," said Derek. "Of course most of business is still Ontario based, but we have been getting a lot of new clients from further away even new business from the Ottawa area is coming in".
"Memory Lane Resto & Rod" also collaborates with some of the world's best automotive restoration companies including RM, which sometimes outsources certain tasks to the "Memory Lane" team. Derek says "Memory Lane" will often team up with other restoration companies or teams, to complete award winning collector car restorations. The "Memory Lane" team can truly work on any type of vehicle, and the proof can be seen on the "Memory Lane Resto & Rod" website and on "Memory Lane" social media platforms, where you will find dozens-upon-dozens, or photographs of restoration projects. The photo arcives feature a wide range of vehicles, from Lamborghinis to vintage Japanese sports cars and Classic Muscle Cars. Many of the vehicles restored at "Memory Lane Reso & Rod" have been featured and honored with awards, at high end car shows including some Concour D'Elegance events. The range of services offered at "Memory Lane" even includes insurance appraisals. Custom metal work and high end body and paint are also cornerstones of the business.
The "Memory Lane Resto & Rod" team has been building up the company's repuation, and that's why more and more, car enthusiasts from across Canada and the United States are "discovering" "Memory Lane".
Derek says running "Memory Lane Resto & Rod" is labour of Love that helps to satisfy his passion for cars. More than that, Derek says he is keeping Ray Oullette's memory alive, and that's important to him because he says Ray made him part of the "Memory Lane" family. Derek says every project at "Memory Lane" is an expression of pride, with each restored car, preserving memories for another customer who leaves with more than a properly built car. Each collector car client knows they’ve become part of the “Memory Lane Resto & Rod” family.