AUSTIN EDITION - NOTEBOOK Austin man's love of cars turns into business

Ever since he got his first car at age 14, Greg Roberts has been wild about wheels.

Now he has turned his longtime hobby of buying, updating and selling cars and trucks into a sideline business.

On July 1, Roberts opened Designer Auto Sales at 1501 Eighth Ave. N.W., the former home of Kar Korner.

"I've sold cars all my life," he says. "It is good to have a hobby that pays for itself."

Roberts plans to keep eight to 12 vehicles in stock. The prices should range from $8,000 to $14,000.


Roberts' primary job will remain as an electrician for Hicks Electric in Rochester.

A farm kid, he was licensed to drive at 15; thus began his love of cars. At age 14, he planned to get motorcycle, but his dad told him he'd get awfully cold in the winter.

That led to a rusty Mustang, and then another car and then another. Roberts, 39, estimates he has had as many as 40 vehicles since he was 14.

He made his mark on each.

"I always try to personalize it a little bit," he said. That means new rims, changing molding or adding box rails to a pickup.

Now he plans to continue customizing the vehicles on his lot.

"I try to make the cars look a little different than every other car," Roberts said.

He also is stocking some parts, like rims and wheels, to sell to the public.


The business, which is a half a block away from his home, is a family operation.

His wife, Amy, is handling the title paperwork and the accounting. Children Caitlin and Colin spend a lot of time watering the flowers and doing other chores.

Fourth-grader Colin made his mark on the business by naming it.

"I had a tough time thinking up a name," said Greg Roberts.

Colin first suggested Custom Auto Sales and Greg passed on it thinking it had probably already been used.

However, the next day Greg got a call on his cell phone.

"I heard a voice say, 'Thank you for calling Designer Auto Sales," Roberts said.

Recognizing Colin's voice, Roberts said that was a great name and his son's reply was, "Guess what comes next?"


The slogan that goes with the name: "Let Us Design a Car for You."

Kiger's Notebook appears on Mondays and Fridays in the Austin Post-Bulletin. Send questions or business news tips to or call 434-7350. Look for updates on his Web log at

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