Colonie – Looking across his new auto showroom at a restored 1951 Chevy pickup with a two-tone, gray-and-black paint job and a pine-lined bed, Rudy Caiazza said, “A vehicle like that changes somebody.”
He continued, “That’ll turn the sharpest-talking city slicker into Farmer Brown as soon as he sits in it and puts his hands on that big steering wheel.”
The pickup is one of about a dozen classic vehicles in the showroom of Exit5 Auto Group, which opens Friday. Though they represent approximately 10 percent of the dealership’s opening inventory, which consists primarily of one- and two-year-old mainstream models for everyday transportation, the classics are central to the identity of Exit 5 Auto Group.
“We want people to come in to look at (the classics), but we don’t want to exclude the person who shows up in a $15,000 car and wants to drive away in another $15,000 car,” Caiazza said. Thus, outside, row after row of domestic and imported SUVs, sedans and minivans. The classics are inside, where tire-kickers and other enthusiasts are welcome to jaw and wax on about automotive rhapsodies even if their wallets are smaller than their dreams. And if you can afford a rotisserie-restored 1969 Dodge Coronet with a 440 engine, they’ll sell it to you for $55,500.
The business is the brainchild of Caiazza and business partner Robert Gaito, who has a background in marketing.
A Lansingburgh native whose father owned a Schwinn bicycle shop in the neighborhood and who has been selling new and used cars for decades, most recently at Northway Toyota, Caiazza, 47, is longtime friends with Gaito, 50. Success with his marketing firms afforded Gaito the funds to indulge his passion for classic cars; he turned to Caiazza to realize it as a viable business. The pair spent the past year in a car-nut’s fantasy world, scouring car auctions and online listings nationwide before spending a chunk of their $3 million in startup funds on classics, mostly American muscle.