Behind the Scenes

SHOPS: Frame-Up Wheelworks

You don’t to have to be in the Chicago-area long to see how far and wide the classic car scene stretches.

No where is that more illustrated than in the plethora of custom shops around the state, working year round to churn out some of the coolest rides found anywhere in the Midwest.

From downtown, to the South Side, to the Western ‘burbs, it’s clear the Windy City has no shortage of places to have a classic custom car built right.

One shop up north along the lake front is Frame-Up Wheel Works. Located in Waukegan and just down the road from Six Flags Great America, this long-standing custom garage has been around for over three decades.

We stopped by recently and chatted with shop owner, Bob Janda, to hear how his shop came about, some of the current projects and what’s ahead for the summer months.

1. How long have you been open?
We’ve been in business for 31 years.  I was born and raised in the area and built our own building in 1996.

2. How did you get started in the business? What drew you towards full time classic car work? Friends and neighbors were into cars growing up.  I was a partner in a C/Gas Anglia at 18 years old.  From there the hobby turned into a full time business after 10 years of part time at the garage.

3. How many cars typically come through in a year?  Any specific projects stand out? We’ve had any from 35-404. So many come to mind – a ’37 Ford Fordor – full air-ride, LS1, chopped top, a  48 Ford with a 4.6 DOHC V8 – when those motors were brand new, a tube chassis with Corvette IFS and a quickchange based IRS, a  ’70 Chevelle with a GM Performance E-Rod crate engine pumping 430hp and even passes emission.

5. What brings you the most satisfaction about your line of work? Seeing a job to the end and the customer getting to drive his dream car, the one that he got to spec every part and piece on.

6. What range of services does Frame-Up perform? We do everything but paint and upholstery – fabrication, wiring, plumbing, air conditioning, suspension and brake upgrades, general service and maintenance work on hot rods and muscle cars.

7. How many employees work at the shop?  We currently have 4 employees. 

8. Any upcoming events?  We are having our annual open house on Sunday, May 6th. We have it the first Sunday in May every year.  It runs from 9-3 and will have an NSRA safety team doing inspections.  There will also be food and drink on site, a 50/50 raffle and some other give-aways  – and of course custom cars and trucks.

If you’re interested in finding out more information contact the shop or show up for their open house and expect to find some very cool machines.

Frame-Up Wheelworks
39108 Greenbay Road
Waukegan, Il 60087

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3 replies »

  1. Glad to see the story on Frame-up Wheel Works – – these guys have built two cars for me from scratch and significantly modified several others – – truly first class work from vision, concept, fabrication, assembly and final testing – always a pleasure to deal with. I am into Ford street rods between 1932 and 1948, but they do it all, including great muscle cars, etc. Their latest project for me is a root beer brown 1934 Ford Tudor Sedan, which Frame-up’s lead builder, Donny Freise, built from scratch – – award winner at every show we attended in 2011, including Top Ten at the 10,000 car NSRA Nationals in Louisville last August !!

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