It Happened in Crawford County: Car Enthusiast John Rossington

John and Howard Rossington were born in New London, Connecticut – the sons of Ron and Luverna Campbell Rossington. “Dad” retired from the US Navy with 20 years of service in 1971, and they moved to Bucyrus in 1972.

“Mom” was amazing. She would buy investment properties and Ron would fix them. They also opened/operated Willy’s Waffle Works in 1987. At one time, John’s parents planned to move to Florida, so he took college prep classes when he was in 11th grade. He graduated in 1979 from Colonel Crawford High School in three years. John also worked for Gene Gallagher IGA from the age of 15. When they didn’t move, John started working at Truka Chevrolet when he was 17.

John was really “into motorcycles” but, wanting to date him, he got a 1971 Chevy Chevelle. Around 1980, he met his future wife, Julie Haught, also a Colonel Crawford graduate. John then started working as a salesman, dressed in a suit and tie, at Angelini’s Pontiac in Galion. Realizing the salesman life wasn’t for him, he spotted a van in the store, and John said “Put me over there to work on it”. It then stayed in the garage until it moved on. The dealership owner said, “One day you will own your own business.

Still has 1935 Ford Convertible father bought in 1959

John spent four years at the VW dealership in Mansfield working on Audi, BMW, Porsche and Subarus. He started his own company “Ohio Auto Parts” in 1992 in the old building in Holloway, two doors east of the Bucyrus Fire Department. His father turns 90 in September but is currently working on preparing the Holloway building for rent. John purchased the former Krauslock Oldsmobile dealership at 321 W. Mansfield St. in 2016 and moved Ohio Auto Parts there in 2018.

John has lost count of the cars he bought, but he still has the 1935 Ford Convertible. “Dad” bought the car in 1959, and John took Julie to his prom. At VW, John got his start as a parts manager and in the late 1980s was sent to Reno for a national parts conference. It was there that he fell in love with Porsche 911s, from which he bought a 1987 911 turbo for Julie in 2001. In 1986, Al Rosso Ford in Shelby had the first Saleen Mustang in Ohio, and when John l driving, he had only to have it. When the Rossingtons bought their first home, the payment was $89.44 a month, but the car payment was $314.51. They had a one-car garage and “that car” (the 1986 Saleen) sat inside; no weather was going to hit him. It is now in its Ohio Auto Parts showroom with just over 9,000 miles. He gave it to his son, Jesse, when he graduated from the College of Wooster.

In 2020, John purchased another Saleen Mustang – this one in 1989 from original local owner Ray Greenick. “He’s a keeper and I’ll fix it when I retire,” John said.

John has fond memories of some local automotive guys such as Al Williams, Ken Teets, Steve Chandler, Glenn Steiner, Hank Davis, Dale Richardson, Ken Berry and Tim Musselman to name a few.

“Cars get in our blood”

“Cars are in our blood,” he noted. “It’s good that people have confidence in me and my guys in the shop to work on their cars. They’ve invested tens of thousands of dollars in these cars.”

A local collector has a red Ferrari 308, like the car on “Magnum, PI”, that they worked on, as well as many other classics. Dr. Roy Harris owns a 1966 Mustang convertible that his father bought new when he was young. working for NASA in Florida, and brought back many memories aboard that car with his father. It is rare to have a family car for so long; most cars have been traded 10 times over these many years.

When John was a young mechanic in his late teens, he did basic maintenance work on Julliard Blicke’s Rolls Royce. “Not many people would drop a young guy on a car like that. It was neat,” John said.

Another car John worked on in the early 90’s, favorite of all his cars – a 1986 Buick Regal T Type WH1. He bought it from Scott Zeigler, the electric family, and John eventually gave this car away to his daughter Jerri. His new favorite is his stepfather’s 1992 Mazda Miata which he recently acquired.

John says behind 30 years of 72-hour work weeks is a very patient woman. Julie was a registered nurse at Crestline Hospital until it closed. From there, she returned to school and graduated as a licensed massage therapist. In 2000, she opened Crestline Massage Therapy, where she remained until her retirement in August 2018. John says he owes her a lot of time when he finally retired.

Daughter Jerri is John’s “right hand man”

John and Julie’s children are Jesse – a College of Wooster graduate and lab demonstrator for OSU at ATI – and Jerri, who runs the parts department, is considered John’s right-hand man. “If I can’t do it, Jerri can,” John said.

John was also an assistant scoutmaster for 15 years. His parents raised him to be productive, and he wakes up thinking “what can I do today, not what can’t I do.” Not obsessed with technology, he got his first mobile phone last year and drives an old 2002 S 10 pickup.

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