History: The Beginning
By John Incaudo
When I was sixteen years old, I was working for an uncle who owned a kitchen
remodeling business, called Incaudo's Interiors. I would drive to the work sites with
my uncle's son in law. We would always drive in his car; it was a bone stock, 1966
Impala station wagon, with a 427 turbo-jet engine. It was filled with his tools. He
would point out all the cool cars, mostly early Impalas and I started to like them
A few months later I was working in a gas station, when a guy came in with a 1963
Chevy Impala. I was instantly all over it; 2 door coupe, super sport model, bucket
seats, 4-speed, pop the hood, you bet, a 409 engine. The deal was to trade him, even
up for my 69 Buick Skylark, 6 cylinder. He said he could not deal with the bad gas
mileage of the big 409. When I told my mother that I was going to trade, she said it
was okay with her, but that my big brother, Joe, had to check it out. I knew he was
going to approve, or else.
The car has now taken over to my mother's garage, and her car is now outside in the driveway, and I am grinding rust, fiber
glassing, and just being a sixteen year old kid with his very first hot rod. I was racing other kids after school, and working on
the engine till 2am on school nights, which she did not know about. A year later, I am now a senior at Forest View High School
having taken 4 years of wood shop, 4 years of auto mechanics and 2 years medal welding class. Foreign language classes?
The school now offered a new body shop class. I would go to Tec-cor, this huge body shop owned by Allstate. If I go to Tec-Cor
for 2 hours during school, I get two whole credits, and I say to myself “where do I sign up?” I finished that class as one of the
top two students; we both received a small tool box filled with hammers and dollies, and job offers.
$3.00 dollars an hour was .50 cents more than I was making at the gas station, so I took the full time job as soon as I
graduated, the summer of 1977. I am doing well as a painter's helper, the ‘63 is now painted, and my mom wants me out of the
garage. There is only one thing that matters to me in this whole big world---my 4-speed, dual quad, posi-traction 409. That's a
song, do you know it? It's a Beach Boys tune.
Summer of 1980 I rent a 3-car garage, and give my moms garage back to her. I am now painting all my friend's cars and
motorcycles. I am making more money, on one side job, than I am making all week at the body shop I am currently working at,
Hillside Auto Body in Arlington Heights. I had been bouncing around from shop to shop, since leaving Tec-cor for more
money, always making a few more dollars per hour at each new shop that I worked at.
The month is February, the year 1981, I quit Hillside, to do side jobs full time, and Incaudo's Auto Body is born. For five years I
am working in this small 3-car garage, with a helper here and there. Taking on insurance work now, pulling engines out with
the help of the big oak tree in the yard. There are cars all over the place. It looks like a body shop in the middle of a residential
area; my land lord is having a fit. My rent is $120.00 a month, and I am making lots of money. He wants me out. What will I
do? Late summer of 1985, Incaudo's Auto Body is forced out of business.
Desperate, down on my luck, don't even think about leaning on my 409 Impala. I somehow pick myself up and start to look for
a new location. Found it! 639 West Colfax is our current Palatine location. I moved in, July 1st, 1986 and have been in
business ever since.
I still remember how huge this new building was in 1986; now we can barely move. But a bigger place is not what I want. This
place has become a big playroom for our motorcycles and restorations. Our high end collision work helps keep this playroom
open. The 1963 Chevrolet has not been driven in ten years, and is next in line for a frame off restoration. I have owned it since