July 2019 Writer \/\/ Ann Cinnamon Photography \/\/ Laura Arick In 1989, Ilya Grabovsky and his wife, Angela, were living in their native Ukraine with their three children, Eric, Karina and Leonid. Hoping to escape religious persecution and with an eye toward the freedoms that were impossible under Soviet rule, Ilya packed up his family\u2014including his wife\u2019s parents\u2014and set off for America. They arrived in Indianapolis with a total of $284, unable to speak the language. Three decades later, Ilya and his son, Eric, are owners of Pete\u2019s Service Center and Pete\u2019s Classic Storage & Restoration. It seems an unlikely journey but one that the elder Grabovsky calls \u201cthe classic immigrant story.\u201d Ilya Grabovsky had worked at a factory in Ukraine that manufactured brake pads and brake shoes, so automotive work was a natural choice. \u201cThe first job of mine,\u201d said Grabovsky, \u201cwas at Bud Wolf Chevrolet as a mechanic a position he landed with the help of Leonid Perel a friend who not only got him a job but even purchased and gifted first set of tools. Leonid also had emigrated from Ukraine 10 years. By 1995, Grabovsky, with the help of his father-in-law, Edward Vyshko, was able to buy Pete\u2019s Service Center at 4902 N. Pennsylvania in Indianapolis. The Grabovsky family was proud to carry on the tradition of Pete\u2019s Service Center, which has provided quality service for European cars since 1955. As the business at Pete\u2019s Service Center grew, their services expanded beyond just servicing modern European cars. \u201cWe always try to listen to our customers,\u201d said Grabovsky, \u201cand they brought to our attention a huge need for storage and restoration.\u201d Eric Grabovsky, Ilya\u2019s son and the company\u2019s general manager, added, \u201cWe started our restoration and service business on classic cars at the 49th and Penn location. But the business grew so much that we had to get a separate location.\u201d And the idea of Pete\u2019s Classic Storage & Restoration was born. The first order of business was finding a location. They decided on the empty building at 2525 E. 56th St., site of the original Broad Ripple post office, then set about redesigning and refurbishing the structure to suit their needs; much of the work was handled personally by father and son. \u201cIt was really cool to work with my dad, side by side, building this place and designing the way we wanted it,\u201d said Eric. The facility\u2019s service and restoration area is separate from the storage bays, and the entire building is fully climate-controlled, a point Eric Grabovsky drove home with this analogy: \u201cIt\u2019s like putting your cigar on a table. The lack of humidity is going to make the cigar fall apart. The same thing will happen if an old gasket is allowed to dry up,\u201d he said. Conversely, too much humidity will do damage as well. \u201cWhen you open your garage in the summertime, you probably feel all the humidity and how hot it is. This is rusting the cars like crazy.\u201d Ilya Grabovsky explained that older, classic cars are especially vulnerable to the effects of humidity and rust. \u201cBefore 1975, the metal used on cars did not have any anti-corrosion protection,\u201d he said. \u201cSo it\u2019s very important that the car be kept in a climate-controlled environment.\u201d Vehicles stored at Pete\u2019s Storage & Restoration are started at least once a month and are constantly monitored for any work that may be required. Eric prefers to have that work performed during the winter months. \u201cThat way the car is always ready for spring and summer,\u201d he said. Cars currently at the property run the gamut from typical 1960s sports cars to truly breathtaking classic vehicles. A 1936 Packard is a particular favorite of Eric\u2019s. \u201cIt\u2019s one of the most beautiful cars I\u2019ve ever seen in my life,\u201d he said. \u201cI see lots of vehicles. I\u2019ve judged at Carmel Automobilia for the past five years, so it\u2019s hard for me to see a car that\u2019s going to stop my breath. And that\u2019s one of the vehicles that does.\u201d The technicians at Pete\u2019s have a combined 180 years of experience specializing in classic cars. The Grabovskys are seeing to it that that experience is passed on to the next generation of auto technicians. \u201cWe have a special program right now with the motorsport engineering department at I.U.P.U.I.,\u201d said Eric, \u201cto get young, smart, bright people interested in working on these cars.\u201d They see it not only as an internship program but also a mentoring program, something that Ilya Grabovsky feels especially strongly about. \u201cWhen I came to this country, I was mentored by many people,\u201d he said. \u201cThat\u2019s why it\u2019s important that we have created this program.\u201d Pete\u2019s Classic Storage & Restoration provides a full range of services for vintage automobiles from climate-controlled storage and simple oil changes to seat reupholstering, motor rebuild and complete vehicle overhaul and restoration. A full restoration of a classic car can take from six months to two years, but the process is a labor of love for the Grabovskys. \u201cFor us, it\u2019s the ability to preserve history,\u201d said Eric. \u201cThose cars are history, and we are able to preserve them and bring them back to life.\u201d Ilya echoed that sentiment. \u201cThis is what we enjoy. When a customer comes to pick up their vehicle and the vehicle starts, what we love to hear from the customer is, \u2018Wow! She\u2019s alive!\u2019\u201d For classic car storage, visit Pete\u2019s Classic Storage & Restoration at 2525 E. 56th St. For service on your newer European car, go to Pete\u2019s Service Center at 4902 N. Pennsylvania, specializing in European automotive repair since 1955. Visit petesservicecenter.com or call (317) 283-7555.