Investing in Classics with the Callaways

Written by Heidi Baumstark

Photos by Callie Broaddus  

Step into a classic car and step into a different world; it’s like taking a trip to a bygone era. And who can pass up that nostalgic feeling of cruising down memory lane? Obviously not many, because Callaway Classics in Marshall, owned by father and son, Tom and Chris Callaway, has been selling classic American-made cars since they opened in the spring of 2021.

Tom has been collecting cars for years. Back in 2000 during the stock market bust, Tom lost money in IT stocks. “I needed to make some changes, so I put extra money into buying classic cars. It’s important to diversify your investments and classic cars [are] one way to do that,” Tom explains.

Chris agrees. “Some customers are looking for classic cars for pure enjoyment. Others purchase for investment benefits,” he says. “Every year the number of classic cars dwindles so it’s a great investment.”

In 2018 when Tom sold his business — T.A.C. Ceramic Tile Company in Manassas — it opened the door to purchase the old Ford dealership in Marshall and transform it into Callaway Classics. Tom adds, “Collecting classic, muscle cars from the 1963 to 1973 year range has been my hobby, my passion. And opening this business is a dream come true.” 

In January 2020, Callaway Classics opened in the old Ford dealership at the intersection of Main Street and Winchester Road in Marshall. The original Ford dealership dates to 1915 and is known as the oldest continuously run Ford dealership in the nation. Throughout 2020, the two buildings underwent an extensive makeover with mindful attention paid to retaining their historic character. Though technically Callaway’s is not a Ford dealership, they still sell Fords and like to think they are continuing the legacy of the buildings. Following the renovations, Callaway’s officially opened in April 2021. 

Callaway’s beauties include a diverse selection of collector cars dating from the 1930s with their base inventory including the niche market of American-made cars mostly from the 1960s and 1970s. “I have over one hundred cars that I’ve collected over the years,” Tom says. Favorites that top his list include the 1968 Ford Mustang, 1965 Buick Riviera, and his 1978 original Ford pickup truck, which he still has. “I really like working on them — the tactile function of it all. And, seeing the ‘before and after’ of restoring cars is so fulfilling.” 

What sparked their love for classic cars?

Tom’s first car was a white 1965 Chevy Impala. “It was my grandfather’s old car,” he adds. “My dad said if I could fix it, I could have it. I was only 14. My dad knew I was mechanically inclined, so I read up on it and fixed it up.” Tom wasn’t even old enough to drive, but once he got his license, you bet he drove it. 

In 1976, Tom was eyeing another car and saved enough money to purchase it while working as a janitor at Iverson Mall in Hillcrest Heights, Maryland. “I paid $850 for it; it was my first car that I bought. It was in great shape in a burgundy color, a 1968 Ford Mustang Fastback,” he remembers. “And that’s the image on our logo.”    

Chris’s first car was a silver 1979 Pontiac Trans Am with an eagle image on the hood. “I still have it,” Chris says. “When I bought it in 2003, I was only 15. It had 28,000 miles and was all original. I started getting into cars when I was 12 or 13. I learned the mechanics, read books. My dad took me to car shows and I was taking an interest in it.”

Cars and Coffee

One way to bring enthusiasts and potential classic car investors together is through Callaway’s Cars and Coffee held the second Saturday of the month, April through October, from 8 to 11 a.m. “It’s a good entry into the car industry,” Chris says. “You get to see other people’s cars and talk to the owners. Some come to us to sell their cars; and we buy them, clean them up, and put them up for sale.” 

When asked what he enjoys about Cars and Coffee, Tom says, “Tinkering on them, polishing them, and the camaraderie it brings.” Likewise, Chris answers, “When people see classic cars, there’s a nostalgia surrounding them. When you drive around, others look and are intrigued. It sparks memories from a generation of people who remember them.”

One of those people is Fauquier native, Charlie Ebbets, who grew up in Marshall. From 1948 to 1951, his dad owned a grill across the street in the building that is now the 7-Eleven. “It was called Eat at Joe’s, named after my dad,” Ebbets says. “As a kid, I’d go across the street from my dad’s grill to the dealership. Years later, I bought the Ford dealership and owned it from 1976 to 1988. Willard Scott [former weather reporter on NBC’s Today Show] would come in and sit around the old potbelly stove; that was in the early 1980s. Farmers would bring their trucks to be worked on and sit at the old stove, drink coffee, and talk.” Today, the Callaways continue that social camaraderie through their Cars and Coffee events, where all are welcome to check out the lineup of classic rides.

What others are saying

Erick Gustafson, a D.C. resident with a house in The Plains, bought a white 1987 Chevrolet Blazer from Callaway’s in July 2021. “It has a terrific burgundy interior; it’s super cool,” he shares. “I’m a little bit of a car guy. But living on Capitol Hill, it’s kind of hard to be a car guy in the city,” Gustafson admits. One day in the countryside, he stumbled upon Callaway Classics and spotted the white Blazer in the window. “They’ve got an extraordinary collection of vehicles — it’s not a typical dealership — it’s more of a collection.” 

Gustafson said he loves cars of all kinds, but the classic ones have such unique characters. “It’s cool to drive in an older car seeing all this local history,” he says. “Trips from Millwood to Middleburg, The Plains to Marshall, my wife and I drive on those country back roads, stopping at places to enjoy the food and wine scene. I really love the area and meeting people like Chris.” 

Sherri Spellar of Aldie is another classic car enthusiast who has wanted a Mustang since she was 14 years old. For years, Spellar searched for a 1965 Mustang convertible and wanted to buy locally. In October 2021, she finally purchased a Rangoon Red 1965 Ford Mustang convertible.  “One day while in Marshall,” she recalls, “I saw Callaway Classics before they opened, and kept looking on their website for inventory updates. Chris was very accommodating and honest, and he still checks in to see how I’m enjoying the car. I love driving through Middleburg, The Plains, and Upperville enjoying the beautiful landscape of Hunt Country. It seems like a dream when I walk out to my garage and see her sitting there — and by the way — her name is Scarlett.” 

Making dreams come true, diversifying portfolios, and keeping legacies alive. That’s what Callaway Classics does. Really, who can resist?

To see Callaway Classics’ online inventory, visit Drop-in at their location at 8323 W. Main Street in Marshall, Virginia, or call 540-364-5484. ML

This article first appeared in the January 2022 Issue.