British cars ‘a passion’ for Maumelle man

By Lisa Burnett Originally Published April 11, 2013 at 12:00 a.m.
Updated April 10, 2013 at 8:35 a.m.
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PHOTO BY: Rusty Hubbard

Ronnie McLeod pulls the cover off an MGA he has at his shop, McLeod British Cars, in Maumelle.

Ronnie McLeod said he can’t explain why, but he loves British cars.

“You either love them or you hate them,” McLeod said.

McLeod, 65, owns McLeod British Cars in Maumelle, which he calls a hobby that just took off.

He said he discovered his love of British cars 40 years ago, and his first to restore was a 1969 Triumph Spitfire.

“Whenever I got started, these cars were the thing to have,” McLeod said. “I’d see one sitting around, and I would buy it and fix it.”

At the time, McLeod said only one place in the state sold parts for British cars.

McLeod started checking with Arkansas dealers to find parts for the cars he was fixing on a daily basis. The limited market for rare car parts gave McLeod the idea to start salvaging cars for their parts for profit.

The cars that line McLeod’s lot range from Spitfire to Rolls-Royce to Morgan Roadster and everything in between. McLeod said the cars he restores are mostly from 1980 and earlier.

“If you ever drive [a British car], they have character

and soul that no other cars have,” McLeod said.

McLeod said his love of British cars makes him want to do whatever he can to fix them.

“This is like an adoption agency,” McLeod said. “I don’t go find these cars, they find me.”

He still works on the cars customers bring to his lot, and he said he can tell what is wrong with a car as soon as he hears the engine.

“British cars are kind of a high-maintenance vehicle,” McLeod said. “Smart people keep their cars in good shape.”

When McLeod gets new customers, he said they usually come back to his shop for repairs and become his friends.

“It’s like a big extended family,” McLeod said.

McLeod taught shop at Pulaski Oak Grove High School for one year before starting an ad company. He used the money he made to open his restoration business, which is a full-time job.

“I’m one of the luckiest guys in the world. I love my job,” McLeod said. “I know I’m [working] because I care about it.”

Before McLeod deconstructs a car to salvage its parts, he said he makes sure it’s absolutely necessary to take the car apart.

“Once you take them apart, there’s one less of them in the world,” McLeod said.

He doesn’t want to work all the time, though. McLeod’s ready for the warmer weather so he can drive his cars more.

“I want the flowers to bloom and the sun to be shining, so I can put the top down.”

Staff writer Lisa Burnett can be reached at (501)244-4307 or lburnett@arkansasonline.com.

Online Reporter Lisa Burnett can be reached at 501-378-3887 or lburnett@arkansasonline.com.

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