2015-01-09 / Front Page

Classic cars take off in Arundel

By Duke Harrington
Staff Writer


Bob Fuller of Saco works on the undercarriage of a classic car at Motorland’s new service center, located at 2564 Portland Road in Arundel. The company also services new and used vehicles, in addition to antiques. (Duke Harrington photo) Bob Fuller of Saco works on the undercarriage of a classic car at Motorland’s new service center, located at 2564 Portland Road in Arundel. The company also services new and used vehicles, in addition to antiques. (Duke Harrington photo) Chances are, if asked to name the fastest-growing business in Biddeford over the past two years, you wouldn’t name a car dealer. Or, at the very least, you wouldn’t come up with a dealer of antique automobiles.

After all, the country is still trying to claw its way out of a deep recession, with Maine lagging far behind, and classic hot rods are, to say the least, something of a luxury item. Conventional wisdom says such things would not be in high demand.

But that’s where you’d be wrong.

When Tim Stentiford, 54, of Kennebunk, quit the world of corporate communications in 2011 and fulfilled his lifelong dream of becoming a full-time car guy, his business, Motorland, was a one-man operation.


Martin Schorer, 90, of Kennebunk, sits at the wheel of his MG TF roadster, which he purchased new in 1954. The vehicle is one of 75 classic cars for sale at Motorland of Arundel and Biddeford. 
(Duke Harrington photo) Martin Schorer, 90, of Kennebunk, sits at the wheel of his MG TF roadster, which he purchased new in 1954. The vehicle is one of 75 classic cars for sale at Motorland of Arundel and Biddeford. (Duke Harrington photo) “Pretty much, it was just me,” he said, recently, with a wry, what-was-I-thinking grin. “My family jokes that this was really a thinly veiled attempt to hide my hoarding addiction.”

But the father of two teenage boys knew exactly what he was doing. Now, flash forward three years, and his rented showroom in Biddeford’s North Dam Mill, at 2 Main St., has grown to two locations. Last month, Stentiford bought a former RV dealership on Route 1 in Arundel, at 2564 Portland Road, giving him two locations in which to show off everything from Volkswagen Bugs and woody station wagons, to classic Corvettes and sleek Jaguars.


Some of the 13 workers at Motorland, located in the North Dam Mill in Biddeford and, as of early December, at 2564 Portland Road in Arundel, include (back from left): Company owner Tim Stentiford, Bobby Pralicz, Taylor Conner, Chris Meyer, Bob Fuller and Service Manager John Huston; and, (left to right, in car): Josiah Currier and Tyler DeGuzman. Some of the 13 workers at Motorland, located in the North Dam Mill in Biddeford and, as of early December, at 2564 Portland Road in Arundel, include (back from left): Company owner Tim Stentiford, Bobby Pralicz, Taylor Conner, Chris Meyer, Bob Fuller and Service Manager John Huston; and, (left to right, in car): Josiah Currier and Tyler DeGuzman. And, what’s more, Motorland now boasts 13 employees selling, servicing and sometimes even souping up those old beauties.

“We’re proud of the fact that we’re creating jobs,” Stentiford said. “All of us have quit our other jobs to be here and get a chance to do what we’ve always dreamed of doing.”

Motorland has sold 150 vehicles since opening in December 2012, at prices that range from $2,500 to $125,000, and still manages to keep 75 in stock at its two locations.

“It’s been a dream come true. We’ve defied the odds, and after less than a month, we’ve already outgrown this space,” said Stentiford last month, while sitting in his Arundel showroom, behind the wheel of a 1949 International KB2 pickup truck.

Featuring prewar design for a postwar world, and decked out in vintage maroon with a lacquered-wood truck bed, the KB2 (for sale or trade at $35,000) was known for its durability.

In that sense, it and every other vehicle on the Motorland lot in Arundel, or the showroom in Biddeford, has one distinct difference from the collector cars that sell at the Barrett-Jackson auctions car enthusiasts like to watch on television.

“What we sell are vehicles that are made to be driven,” Stentiford said. “And they all tell a story. That’s why our tagline is ‘Celebrating American in Reverse.’”

One car currently in the Motorland inventory that not only has a story to tell, but has been fully documented, is an MG TF roadster, purchased new in 1954 by Marin Schorer, 90, of Kennebunk. The car comes with vintage racing suits worn by Schorer and his wife Janet, each adorned NASCAR-style with collector patches from collar to cuff. Also included are more than a dozen oversized scrapbooks created by Janet Schorer chronicling every trip the couple took in their MG, across the country and abroad.

Currently, Stentiford is working to find a buyer for the Schorer’s treasured vehicle by soliciting a California MG club, like the one to which the couple belonged. It’s a prime example of the Motorland business model, sourcing cars locally from an aging population that loved and maintained their vehicles, and selling them largely out of state, mostly to baby boomers just entering retirement and looking to spend a little of the hard-earned cash on that one car they always wanted.

Although Motorland has two Maine locations, make no mistake, it’s very much an Internet business.

“Something like 92 percent of our sales are outside the state of Maine,” Stentiford said. “In fact, we’ve sold more classic cars to the state of California than the state of Maine.”

Fueling that sales surge, in part, is Motorland’s locator service. On Thursday, Stentiford was expecting the imminent arrival of a buyer from Maryland. At nearly 7 feet tall, the buyer had trouble finding a vehicle he could drive comfortably. So, Motorland found him a 1975 Cadillac, the biggest production vehicle ever made for the American market.

“Just listen to that,” said Josiah Currier, of Kennebunk, as he swung the Caddy’s door shut with a tank-like thud. “Now that’s the sound of a real car.”

Currier, on Christmas break from Southern Maine Community College, was at his former employer’s helping to detail the Continental for its new owner. He is one direct beneficiary of Stentiford’s success.

Motorland has a partnership with the Biddeford Regional Center of Technology, the technical school that serves the Biddeford and Kennebunk area, under which it offers four intern slots to students each year. Currier won one of the spots following a school field trip, went on to earn a full-time job, and was then summarily fired last summer.

“He’s really gifted, very talented, so that’s why I ‘fired’ him, to make sure he went on to school,” said Stentiford, with a laugh.

“I love these old cars, I just love the mechanics of them,” said Currier, as he continued to work on the Cadillac. “You don’t get any of that today with all the computers and stuff cars have. But for all that technology, today’s cars just aren’t as good, they don’t last as long, and they don’t have that sense of being something you really want to drive. Frankly, I don’t think America has made a decent car since about 1974.”

If you feel the same way, Motorland is probably the place for you, to visit in-person, or online.

The company also has several offshoot services which Stentiford said were not planned as part of his original business model, but which have taken off to meet demand.

Those include refurbishing and customization of classic cars. Motorland will take on most any repair work, although Stentiford admits his company is probably not the place for you if you’re looking for someone to rebuild the Studebaker that’s been in the back-40 long enough that where it actually has trees growing out of it. However, if that Studebaker is in decent shape, and you want to add a roof rack and wood paneling, Motorland can hook you up.

What’s more, service manager John Huston, of Lyman, points out that the company services all cars, old and new. So, you don’t have to pilot an antique to take advantage of their body shop or mechanical bonafides, even if your car does sport an onboard computer.

Motorland also offers financing, stores vehicles, and even provides a concierge care service, storing a vehicle over the winter, maintaining it, delivering it to the owner’s door upon arrival of the season – or in the case of folk from away – arrival for the season, and picking in back up at season’s end.

“We do everything, including going to town hall to register the car and get the beach stickers and gassing it up,” Stentiford said. “We really try to be one-stop shopping.”

In the end, Motorland is all about helping people find and drive the cars they want to be seen in.

“It’s not only a business, it’s a hobby,” Stentiford said. “And it’s a hobby of a lifetime. American’s love affair with the automobile continues to drive on, unabated.”

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