Aw, the foolhardiness of being young. “My dad bought my first car when I turned 16,” says Rob Fain. “It was a Pontiac GTO, and I thought it was big and ugly. I’d just seen “Smokey and the Bandit,” so I was fixated on having a black and gold Pontiac Trans Am, like Burt Reynolds drove in the movie.” Well, of course, what he wouldn’t give to have that 1965 GTO today! His dad and uncle owned local gas stations, and Rob spent lots of time in his youth fixing bicycles and lawn mowers in the neighborhood. Following graduation from Blacksburg High School, Rob studied electronics at New River Community College. “I didn’t really like it as far as pursing a career, but the education has helped tremendously with cars. Being able to troubleshoot electronics is half the battle,” relates the 52-year-old entrepreneur. He opened his first shop in Blacksburg in 1991 and outgrew every space he moved to, upsizing along the way. Until a year ago.
Automasters (then next to Duncan Ford) was a family business where his in-laws, Jill and the late John Bachorik operated the business side of things and Rob ran the shop and customer service. When the business sale was imminent, Rob could only find one place in the NRV where he could even have a shop, across from Corning between the Western Store and Discount Cellular Accessories. “It was my only choice, and I wanted to downsize anyway to spend more time with my young boys,” he explains of opening Fain Tire & Auto in a smaller place. Rob credits his success with staying educated on changes in automobile mechanics and design, as well as the people around him, like his parents, Manuel and Linda Fain, his wife, Melanie, and in-house bookkeeper, Julie Wade and others. “She [Julie] knows just about everything about cars.” When asked if she could testify like Lisa in the movie “My Cousin Vinny,” he says “probably”, adding that as he was watching movie, he figured Hollywood got it all wrong. “I knew the car in the movie couldn’t have made those tire tracks unless the movie people changed the rear differential,” he smiles. Of course, that’s what solved the mystery in the movie!
So what is Rob’s dream car to own today? A Corvette, coincidentally like the one owned by Johnnie Self profiled in this issue on page 24, with one exception. Rob would have it in black and gold. And yes, he did get his Trans Am as a teen.