There is a nondescript cinder-block building on a back street in the Plateau Mont-Royal district that looks like any other local garage on dozens of other city streets. But this one offers more than oil changes and brake jobs. It houses the combined talents of the Panaritis family, the keepers of the muscle car flame … the HEMI Brothers, four proud brothers of Greek descent who have built, raced and restored muscle cars for more than 30 years with a particular passion for Mopar vehicles.
Inside Indy-Auto, among the expected stacks of boxes of windshield washer fluid and motor oil, you’ll see evidence of their high performance exploits over the past three decades. This is no museum of the past, this is a place where the muscle car era never ended.
George, Jimmy, Nick and Phil Panaritis began their love affair with cars very modestly in the laneway behind their parents’ house on Hutchison Street at Bernard Avenue George, the youngest brother, recalls how it started for him. “I was a kid and saw an orange Charger at the Dairy Queen and it had HEMI written on it,” he said with a laugh. “That was it for me!”
“Our dad bought a 1973 Duster, brand-new,” Phil adds. “It had the slant six engine, but it was a Duster!”
That was the calling for all four from then on. They were soon working on their own muscle cars, and then on their friends’ cars too.
Each brother had particular talents: Nick became the chief mechanic while Phil, the oldest, was the “driver” and R&D expert. George loved the thrill of drag racing and Jimmy was known to change cars almost yearly. But all of them loved Mopars.
“Our life is cars,” Phil says. “We always work on them, we always talk about them whenever we are together. It’s what we do.”
“We’re each a 25-per-cent partner in all the businesses,” Phil says. “We are all equal.”
The next generation of Panaritis’ carry on the tradition. The sons of Phil and Jimmy, who share the name Sotirios after their grandfather, are both involved. Phil’s son bracket races a 1994 Camaro Z28 and Jimmy’s son is at the track every weekend helping crew the cars until he, too, can race.
(source: montreal gazette)