John and Howard Rossington were born in New London, Connecticut — the sons of Ron and Luverna Campbell Rossington. “Dad” retired from 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 up. They also opened/operated Willy’s Waffle Works in 1987. At one point, John’s parents had planned to move to Florida, so he took college prep classes when he was an 11th grader. He graduated in 1979 from Colonel Crawford High School in three years. John also worked for Gene Gallagher IGA starting when he was 15. When they didn’t move, John began working at Truka Chevrolet when he was 17.
John was really "into motorcycles" but, wanting to date, he got a 1971 Chevy Chevelle. Around 1980, he met his future wife, Julie Haught, also a Colonel Crawford grad. John then began working as a salesman, dressed in a suit and tie, at Angelini’s Pontiac in Galion. Realizing the sales life wasn’t for him, he spotted a pickup truck sitting in the shop, and John said “put me out there to work on it.” He then stayed in the garage until he moved on. The owner of the dealership said “You are going to own your own business someday.”
Still has 1935 Ford Cabriolet 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 business “Ohio Auto Parts” in 1992 at the old Holloway building two doors east of the Bucyrus Fire Department. His dad will be 90 in September but is currently working on preparing the Holloway building as a rental. John purchased the former Krauslock Oldsmobile dealership at 321 W. Mansfield St. in 2016 and moved Ohio Auto Parts to that location in 2018.
John has lost count of the cars he’s bought but still has the 1935 Ford Cabriolet. “Dad” bought the car in the 1959, and John took Julie to her senior prom in it. While at VW, John got his start as the parts manager and in the late 1980s was flown to Reno for a national parts conference. That’s where he fell in love with the Porsche 911s, of 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 drove it, he just had 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 '86 Saleen) sat inside; no weather was going to hit it. It’s now in his Ohio Auto Parts showroom with just over 9,000 miles on it. He gave it to his son, Jesse, when he graduated from The College of Wooster.
In 2020, John purchased another Saleen Mustang — this one a 1989 from the original local owner Ray Greenick. “It’s a keeper and I’ll fix it up when I retire," said John.
John has fond recollections of some of local car 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 get in our blood," he noted. “It’s neat that people trust myself and my guys at the shop to work on their cars. They have tens of thousands invested into them.”
One local collector has a red Ferrari 308, like the car on ‘Magnum, P.I.," that they've worked on, as well as numerous other classics. Dr. Roy Harris has a 1966 Mustang convertible that his father bought new when he was working for NASA in Florida, and recalled many memories riding in that car with his dad. It’s rare to have a family-owned car that long; most cars have been traded 10 times over in that many years.
When John was a younger mechanic, in his late teens, he did basic service work on Julliard Blicke’s Rolls Royce. “Not too many people would turn a young guy loose on a car like that. It was neat,” said John.
Another car that John worked on in the early '90s, the favorite of all his cars — a 1986 Buick Regal T Type WH1. He bought it from Scott Zeigler, the electrical family, and John eventually gave that car to his daughter Jerri. His new favorite is his father-in-law's 1992 Mazda Miata which he recently acquired.
John says that behind 30 years of 72-hour workweeks is a very patient wife. Julie was a registered nurse at Crestline Hospital until it closed. From there, she went back to school and got her degree 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 bunch of time when he finally retires.
Daughter Jerri is John's 'right hand'
John and Julie’s children are Jesse — a graduate of College of Wooster and the lab demonstrator for OSU at ATI — and Jerri, who runs the parts department is considered John’s right hand. “If I can’t do it, Jerri can," said John.
John was also an assistant scout leader 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 cell phone just last year and drives an old 2002 S 10 pickup.
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This article originally appeared on Bucyrus Telegraph-Forum: It Happened in Crawford County: Car enthusiast John Rossington