Zook’s Bronco Barn: An Amish Auto Restoration Shop
The vehicles Amos Zook restores, specifically, are Ford Broncos from the “first-gen” era, built from 1966-1977.
Zook lives in Lancaster County, where he runs Zook’s Bronco Barn, doing work for clients as far away as Florida, on projects that can exceed six figures.
What makes this story unusual is that Zook is Amish. That’s not the only thing unusual about him though, as revealed in a recent profile in Road and Track.
First, about the cars. How did an Amishman get into a business restoring vehicles that he would never drive as a baptized church member? It started as a case of tinkering, and grew from there:
His earliest memories include neighbors fording a creek in a beat-up Bronco. Zook was hooked. “The first Bronco I looked at, it looked pretty good from walking around it—like an easy fix, an easy paint job,” he chuckles. “I brought it home and took everything apart, and as I did that, one quarter panel fell on the floor.
That first Bronco turned to two, which became three. And on. For years, he bought every Bronco under $800 in the area, stacking spare parts like hay bales in the barn’s attic. The challenges of restoration captivated Zook. The trucks appear simple but were stitched together from nearly 50 separate steel panels, leaving endless seams for rust to scourge, he says.
Zook’s work became appreciated far and wide:
Zook toiled and, in the process, became a master of his craft. Members of the Bronco community praised his efforts, asking for paint jobs or other fixes on the side. Zook’s list of projects grew, wedged into the nighttime hours following long days as a mason or as a trucker driving oversized loads.
Eventually he went full-time with the business, in 2011. Zook’s wife had a pivotal role in getting him into the Bronco restoration business full-time:
“During the time I was in the truck, I met my wife,” Zook says. “She said, ‘Why are you in the truck thinking about your shop all the time? Just quit and do your cars.’ ”
His projects run from $40,000 to over $100,000, and the wait time is around two years. Zook says these Broncos are “very labor-intensive.” Sounds like it is worth the wait for more than one reason:
“There’s some companies restoring Broncos a lot quicker than me,” Zook says. “But I like customers that want to experience part of the process. And I always end up being friends with ’em.”
Amish who work on cars is not unheard of. There is an Amish-run business called Pequea Alternator and Starter, right in the heart of Lancaster County. I once had them do some minor work on my car, which was having electrical issues.
Some Amish buggy shops also restore cars. I’ve found this to be more often the very old models (early 1900s), which in some ways are closer to buggies than to anything people drive today.
The other unusual part of Zook’s story, is how he came to be Amish.
Zook spent a long time outside of the Amish, only returning to the church in 2016, following the birth of his son. He was able to keep the business he established while not Amish, with the caveat that he no longer drives his creations.
Returning to the Amish later in life (based on clues in the story, I’d say Zook is in his 40s) is also not unheard of, but a much less common way to find yourself an Amish church member.
The most remarkable such case I know of is the grandfather of an Amish friend who returned to the Old Order church much later in life (he was in his 90s).
The fact that Amos Zook can simultaneously be a car restoration expert and Amish is just one of those quirks of Amish life, which may seem like a puzzling conundrum to the outside, but which has its own logic within the rules of the church.
It’s not something he could do in every Amish church, but with the business-oriented and materially progressive Lancaster Amish, it fits. Nice to see that Zook can both follow his faith and continue making a living doing something he loves.
What an unusual and great story of this man’s life. Loved it.
I thought the same!
Contact Amos Zook?
As a “reformed” tinkerer and “wrencher,” I loved reading this story and would like to speak with or write to Mr. Zook. How do I contact him or Zook’s Bronco Barn?
Hi John, I checked into it and funny enough it’s hard to find any business information on the Bronco Barn. It doesn’t really come up in a web search other than in the Road and Track article and some related posts. I couldn’t find it in a Google Maps search either.
However I did find an online thread where it looks like Amos left a comment in reply to a conversation on his article. He’s the 12th comment down the thread. Maybe there is a way to message him directly via that thread (in case you’re wondering, some Amish have access to the internet via a smartphone or a computer in a non-Amish business place).
Amos' Bronco Barn
I found 2 possible addresses for “(Amos)Zooks Bronco Barn”
First one was a residence with a large barn:71 Hatvill Rd Gordonville,Pa 17529
The second is 837 Stively Rd Strasburg,Pa 17574. I passed by the first one but didn’t stop to ask.
Stively Rd seems like the more likely since its a larger property and a satellite view seems to show a number of trucks on the property.
and I did find a phone number:717-917-8414. Sorry thats the best I could come up with.
Sir, my Great grand mother on mother’s side was Flossie Zook,originally from Morgantown Pa. Great grandpa met her in Chenoa,Illinois & brought her to Missouri. I had no idea the Amish connection until a few years ago. I chauffeur for the Clark Missouri community & enjoy hauling & visiting with my Cousins as I call all Amish & Mennonite.
I applaud your work & would love to meet you someday.
Thnk you for your time.
Grandma was ZUCK not Zook.
It’s not uncommon to find many engine repair shops in Amish country. One of the busiest small engine repair shops in Green Lake County is owned by Amish. I’ve brought several yard tractors and tillers for repair to these small engine repair shops and came away totally satisfied with the quality of work and the reasonable prices. However, I know of no automobile repair shops run by Amish where I summer in Wisconsin.
There are a couple of Amish shops I know of that fix welding equipment, generators, etc. Much of the work being of an electrical nature – battery powered, that is.
With almost any work I need done, I seek the help of my Amish friends first.
True Ken, lot of Amish small engine repair shops out there. Nice and unsurprising to hear you had a good experience. I don’t believe we’ve ever profiled that type of business on the site, so I’ll put it on the radar.
Amish Auto Repair in Holmes County, OH
One of our readers shares this comment:
My Ohio Amish family also have an auto repair business in their shop. People from all over bring their cars to Berlin, Ohio for repair.
Father and sons repair, but only the sons in Rumspringa can test drive them, and soon it will have to be a hired hand to drive them.
The name of the auto repair is M & M Repair in Holmes County. The M & M stands for Marvin and Mathias.
I sent u a few photos of 73 bronco for ball park and how far out for restoration job ?