A Connecticut Find: Ridgefield Auto Upholstery

You can find anything on the Internet. But what does it say when a business staunchly refuses to have a presence on the Web? What kind of business would dare to ignore the Web today? Either that business is stuck in the pre-Internet days or it is fortunate enough to exist on word-of-mouth.

In truth, Ridgefield Auto Upholstery Shop in the charming town of Ridgefield, Connecticut is probably a little of both.

This is no bustling shop with skilled immigrants huddled over sewing machines and a wall of concours trophies. This is a one-man shop with perhaps 1,500 square feet of workspace. It's cozy, and Dave likes it that way.
Not Sindelfingen, but I was in capable hands.

Understand that car enthusiasts like myself are always looking for a find, whether it's a cache of New Old Stock parts, a 40-year old hide of German Roser leather, or an old-world craftsman like Dave. My hope was to bring him a small job and to try him out.

I found the company name and phone number on the Internet, but that was all. I like the town of Ridgefield and had plans to be in the area, so I figured it was worth a try. What's the worst that could happen with a door panel that needed a few holes cut into it?

This man is the real deal. His extremely tidy shop is decorated with sun-faded photos of obscure Italian exoticars, pre- and post-war Mercedes, the muscle cars that are de rigeur in any restoration shop today, and lots and lots of photos of mid-life crisis investment banker-type cars with long noses, 12 cylinders and the occasional whale tail. Dave knows interiors. He knows fabrics, soft tops, vendors, and has likely confronted the issues of any job that walks in the door because he remembers the last 10 times he did that job for someone else. He has the ability, but also the experience.

Mind you, interior work is a lost art. Cars have become a collection of kits that are swapped in and out en masse. Few parts are repaired in isolation; you just swap out the entire unit for a new part. Or you do the math and just part out the car. Sad to see, in my opinion.

In any event, I went to Dave for a simple task—the previous owner had installed cupholders in the door panels, so I ordered a new door panel insert (just the center leather part, sans door handle, wood trim, and speaker) from the Classic Center that came needing some modification. The largest task was to cut a hole into the panel to accommodate a speaker.

One week later, the task was complete. Dave even helped me put the door panel back in.

I have some more interior work I'll be needing in the future, so Dave is my man. Watch this blog for an update.