BALDWYN • Last fall, between Halloween and Thanksgiving, Billy Kizer decided his customer lounge needed a major overhaul. He had an idea in mind for his automotive shop, but needed an expert to execute it.
That’s where Cliff Slater came into the picture.
Kizer and Slater met about 20 years ago in Baldwyn. Slater would often take vehicles to Kizer to have work done.
“It started off as a business relationship,” Slater said. “After about the 34th time I needed his services, I decided I needed to make him a friend.”
When Kizer decided to remodel the waiting room at Kizer Automotive, what he had in mind was something he’d seen somewhere else – an old car turned into a couch.
“I had old signs hanging on the walls and I wanted to stay antique-looking, and not like every other place you walk into,” Kizer said. “I wanted something unique. I knew Cliff had restored old cars before.”
Slater was happy to help Kizer realize his vision.
“Billy’s the one who took the giant step to trust me,” Slater said. “I told him to turn me loose and I’d make him something really cool.”
The result is a customer lounge full of old Fords that have been turned into couches, chairs, a coffee table, a refreshment center, a light fixture, a condiment station, a customer service counter, swinging doors and even television speakers.
“I started out at a Ford dealership, so Ford’s my love,” Kizer said.
The most talked-about piece in the lounge area is a ‘59 Ford F100 that Slater found in a junk yard in Baldwyn.
“It had been sitting in the back of their lot and it just had garbage piled in it,” Kizer said.
“You have to find something that’s beyond putting on the road, but not ready for Mother Earth,” Slater said.
He turned the front end of the cab, the back end of the cab and the bed of the F100 into three couches, and the tailgate into a coffee table.
The couches are made from seats out of an old Lincoln Town Car. Baldwyn Upholstery did some of the upholstery work and Slater did the rest. Kizer picked the paint color for the ensemble – Black Cherry.
“That piece is probably my favorite,” Kizer said. “People talk about it the most.”
The first piece Slater built for the waiting area is made from a ‘56 Crown Victoria. Everything about the car was crushed except for the back two fenders. Slater found it in a junk yard for $300.
“I just asked if I could walk through the yard, find what I needed and then negotiate a deal,” he said.
Two chairs, made from seats out of an ‘03 Ford F-150, sit in what would have been the trunk of the car, which is painted a turquoise blue called Tidal Surf.
A couple of years ago, Kizer bought a 1946 Ford 2-ton in Pontotoc that was once used as a firetruck.
“I saw it on Facebook Marketplace,” he said. “I cut the front off it and had it sitting in the floor in the shop. Cliff built a table around it and support for it underneath.
The hood, which juts out of the wall, opens to reveal condiments and napkins. Around the table are four Snap-on chairs for customers to sit on. The original table that came with the chairs has been cut down and is used as a coffee table for the ‘56 Crown Vic.
There’s very little waste in the pieces Slater builds.
“One Sunday afternoon, we went to Alpine and got a ‘79 Ford van for $200,” he said. “We bought it with the promise we’d take everything we didn’t use back because the man we got it from is a junk collector.”
They cut the back end off and made it into a refreshment center in the lounge. The double doors open to reveal a popcorn machine and coffee pot. A 1939 Packer child’s pedal car holds cream and sugar and popcorn bags.
“The customer service counter is made from the front of the van,” Kizer said. “Cliff built drawers in the back of it, so it’s a desk, really.”
The van’s side doors now lead the way into the back of Kizer’s shop, where repair work is done.
Slater began the work of recycling Fords into furniture around Thanksgiving last year. He finished the projects the second week in July. It took a couple of days to get everything moved in and in place.
“After he got everything done, he came over here and put a checkerboard ceiling in and put metal on the walls,” Kizer said. “That took him about five days.”
Slater raised the eight-foot ceiling in the lounge area and covered it with pieces of sheet metal, alternating galvanized and carbon pieces.
“It looks like a checkerboard, a checkered flag at race day,” Slater said.
The reaction of customers to the new decor has been phenomenal, Kizer said.
“I’ve had all kinds of people coming in here and wanting pieces like this,” he said. “Younger kids want to take a selfie while sitting on a piece of the furniture or get their parents to take a picture. Every car enthusiast comes in here and wants to know how they can have one.”
Slater is currently working on some commissioned pieces, but says no two pieces will ever be the same.
And that’s fine with Kizer.
“He’s just about got all the work he can handle right now,” Kizer said. “But I tell you, if I were to ever sell my business, all this stuff would go home with me. It’s special. I’d put every bit of it in my man cave.”