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Meet Robert Johns of Classic Convertible Carriages in Alpharetta

Today we’d like to introduce you to Robert Johns.

Thanks for sharing your story with us Robert. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
I started the business Classic Convertible Carriages in 2015 after purchasing the 1941 Cadillac Convertible in 2012 from a sweet lady in South Georgia. It took two years to restore the car to the condition it is in today. After retiring from a 35-year career in corporate America, I followed my passion for cars and set up a vintage transportation service. I am very appreciative of those guests who have supported my services.

The business started based on the interest and requests to use my classic white convertible for weddings and other special events. I set up the business because I wanted to share my love of classic automobiles with others, I wanted to do it right (business license, state regulated, commercial insurance, chauffeur’s license, etc.), and I wanted to protect my personal assets by setting up an LLC. My highest priority is the safety of my guests.

The business has grown from supporting 3 weddings in 2015 to 13 in 2016 and 25+ in 2017. I promote the business via my website, wwwclassicconvertiblecarriages.com and through word-of-mouth. I have built a solid relationship with several wedding planners and photographers, and I am very appreciative of their support.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
The business is in tremendous demand, especially for a vintage automobile, a convertible and a white car. I get one to two calls or email requests each week asking for availability. The goal is to expand the business to additional vehicles, but right now it’s one car and one driver (me).

The challenges I face are the weather (primarily rain), the Atlanta traffic (especially when the I-85 bridge went down), and maintaining a car that is original and is 76 years old.

In regard to the maintenance, Classic AutoSmith in Marietta services the car regularly and I am regulated by the state that requires an annual inspection. The car looks and runs great and my goal is to proactively keep it in superior running condition. Once I book a wedding I touch base with the primary contact 30 days, 7 days and 1 day in advance to ensure we are on track for a flawless getaway.

In regard to the weather, the top goes up when the rain comes down. In the event of monsoon rains, if we both agree that a convertible is not conducive for a wedding, I allow a cancellation at no cost to the party. In regard to the traffic, I allow plenty of time to drive to the venue, always arriving one hour before the scheduled departure.

Classic Convertible Carriages – what should we know? What do you guys do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
The car is used primarily as a getaway vintage wedding car service, but has been used for other events such as 1) photo shoots for wedding invitations, 2) theme parties like “The Great Gatsby” and 3) in parades to honor WWII veterans since the car is classified as a pre-war vehicle. What sets me apart is the antique white convertible and my thoroughness, reliability and punctuality.

A highlight is that my 1941 Cadillac has been featured for the last three years at the Atlanta International Auto Show. Just like the weddings, I like sharing the history of the car with others. The most common questions are “What did it cost new and what is it worth today?” The car new was $1,645 and today’s value is approximately $75,000. The Cadillac was first sold in the Boston area as it has a dealer emblem on the back stating that fact.

This Cadillac won a blue ribbon as the “Best American Car Award” at Hilton Head’s Motoring Festival, and was featured on the cover of the National Cadillac Magazine called “The Self Starter.” In addition to this, it was used in the movie “The Founder” about Ray Croc starring Michael Keaton and can be seen in the introduction of the TV show called “Caffeine and Octane,” currently on the Velocity channel.

What moment in your career do you look back most fondly on?
My proudest moment was meeting and taking three WWII veterans for a ride set up by the Sandy Springs Rotary Club. This event was complimentary because it was my honor and privilege to meet these gentlemen in their early to mid-90’s and put a smile on their faces. I thanked them for their service and defending our freedom. A fun fact about the 1941 Cadillac engine (326 c.i. flat head V8) is that it was used in Sherman tanks during WWII.

Contact Info:

 
Image Credit:
– Clark Savage (770 883-3305 or atlantaphotographer.com): Personal photo with the Cadillac at the Church
– Tim Harman (678 520-3574 or timharman.com): Cadillac on the Jackson Street Bridge
– Jim Pixley (404 556-4698 or mascotmagazine.com): Cadillac in front of City Hall

Getting in touch: VoyageATL is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

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