SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

December 19, 2012

Antique, classic car showroom moves to Beverly

By Jonathan Phelps
Staff writer

---- — BEVERLY — If the 1932, three-window Ford coupe inside the showroom on Rantoul Street doesn’t catch your attention, maybe the 1952 Jaguar XK120 will.

Welcome to Legendary Motors, which opened in the fall.

“This is the epitome of the British sports car, right here,” said owner Tom Mannetta, about the rare, open, two-seat Jaguar on sale for $79,900.

Mannetta, who lives in Topsfield, opened the small showroom after operating the business for the past four years out of a warehouse in Ipswich. He was looking for a visible location when he came across the storefront at 445 Rantoul St. He decided to purchase and renovate the building, which he described as becoming “rundown.”

“It didn’t need to be on Route 114 because most of our sales are online,” he said. “But I did want some more exposure, so people can stop by and see what we are doing.”

The business specializes in buying and selling antique, collector and muscle cars. All the cars in the showroom right now are on consignment, he said.

“We don’t deal with your conventional, everyday car,” he said.

The company also sells old cars that have been turned into hot rods, like a 1934 Ford five-window coupe that features a Corvette engine. There are also a number of collector motorcycles in the showroom.

There are no set hours for the business, but people can stop by when an open flag is hanging outside.

“I encourage people to come in and take a look,” Mannetta said. “If you walk in the door, you are a car person, so people like to talk about cars. They tell stories about their old cars.”

Mannetta still leases the warehouse space in Ipswich because not all the cars can fit into the 1,200 square-foot showroom.

Gin Wallace, executive director of Beverly Main Streets, said the showroom creates a good mix of businesses in the area that will draw people into downtown who would not have necessarily come.

“Rantoul is really coming alive with unique businesses,” Wallace said. “The corner was becoming tired, and (Legendary Motors) came in and did a really good renovation of the building. They made the corner look attractive and inviting.”

Mannetta said he used to work at an auto body shop in the building in the 1970s.

During renovations to the outside of the building, Mannetta restored a part that reveals the year it was built — 1922. The building has served as a showroom in the past, including for Ocean Pontiac in the 1960s, he said.

Most recently, the storefront was used as office space after a muffler and auto repair supplies shop closed.

Pages Auto Body and Restoration by Roy currently operate out of separate garages in the rear of the building.

Most of Legendary Motors’ sales are done online, with many overseas to countries like Germany, Mannetta said.

While he runs the shop full time, he also does civil engineering consulting and auto car appraisals.

He said the business has received a great response since opening.

“This is set up so people can come in an see what we have,” Mannetta said. “A lot of people say they will come back when they win the lottery.”