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click to enlarge Possible restoration candidates add atmosphere to the driveway.

The Genetic Trait

His grandfather owned an Indycar team; his father encouraged tinkering.

by Phil Berg

Lambert Auto is the name of Mark Lambert’s Packard hospital in Nashville, but the name is the same as that used by Lambert’s grandfather, Charles, who owned race teams in Indiana and sold cars in the 1920s. “I grew up in a long lineage of automobile enthusiasm. My grandfather got us going. He campaigned a team of Ford-based cars into the 1930s.”

Further proof that sometimes the car gene is handed down through generations are Lambert’s stories of his dad, who among other car adventures rode shotgun in the pace car at the 1930 Indianapolis 500: “Dad grew up with this and encouraged all five of us boys and two girls to fool around with cars. There were always cars around as far back as I can remember,” he recalls.

click to enlarge The firehouse was built in 1930 to hold just two vehicles end-to-end.

Mark Lambert tried a life without cars, though. After college he began his so-called “corporate” life. “I was an English major and I always missed working on cars, so when I had a chance to go full time and do it, I jumped on it.” Lambert now restores classic American and British cars, and has about 135 full-time clients with more than 200 cars.

“I like fixing cars,” he explains. “And I like driving them when they’re fixed. Driving and working on them go hand in hand. It’s a central experience driving a car, most people don’t realize that, they just live with the way their switches feel, that horrible plastic feel. They drive these pod things that the industry is making today. The new cars go a long way for a small amount of work, but to me it’s degrading.”

click to enlarge The Healey is undergoing a complete restoration.

Lambert remains impressed with American classics: “They didn’t have to build them that good. It was the right way to do it. It wasn’t always a competitive necessity to build a car to last 40 years. That’s why I like working on these things and having them around me. It’s such a reflection of the integrity of the guys who made them.”

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