Restoration projects and metal benders.

I have been thinking about this for a good while. What makes a person restore an older car? What drives him/her? How does a normal everyday person decide to rebuild a car they saw in their childhood?

This week I ran into a quasi-relative at a first-year-old’s birthday party for my…Nephew-in-law’s son. Cliff is the child’s father’s uncle, which would make him a great uncle? I’m sure he is. Or is it…well, it doesn’t matter, I’ve played golf with Cliff for over 20 years so he’s considered, a friend, a friend that I never knew that well. I didn’t know, until now, that he is an artist…with metal.

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Cliff also told me something else that he never mentioned to me, that he rebuilt a classic ’56 Chevy B210 into a very nice lookin’ Dream Machine that has some nice power as well. The car used to have a straight 6, but now has a Chevy 350 V8 that has about 300 HP. He also mentioned that he made many parts from scratch; he’s an expert welder and bends metal to his liking.

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This I had to see. So, my kids and I rode out to Cliff’s place in the country. Way out in the country. My 17 year-old daughter, Courtney, and her twin, my son, Chase, was with me and when they saw the car as we drove into the driveway that features a four-car garage, they gasped and their eyes grew large.

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The Chevy is a gorgeous shade of orange, like an Orange Crush. Beautiful. Cliff told us that he carefully, and meticulously painted the car in his garage. I took a peak inside at the interior expecting to see floor shifter and yes, there it was, but it looked different. It was an automatic transmission. Cliff said he didn’t like shifting a lot whenever he’s in a parade or at a cruise-in.

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Cliff’s wife, Joy, invited us inside for a drink and we got surprised again. Cliff is such a good metal bender, that he makes model ships…out of stainless steal. Not small ships, large art sculptures with a lot of detail. I’ll post some pictures. Out back of his house was another surprise; a 30’ deep pond with fish and a diving board. Not a bad lifestyle.

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Cliff wanted us to see his neighbor’s project car, so we hopped in his Chevy and took a short ride with a low rumble. His friend Rocky, lives just a few houses down, but his large barn-like garage told me a lot. The garage door was open and inside was a hot rod made from a ’30 Ford. It was on a lift, but the closer you got, the better it looked. Court and Chase were mesmerized by this…work of art.

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Rocky told us that many parts on the highboy were hand made from stainless steel (I could see Cliff, had a hand in this). Rocky agreed to build the car for a guy named, Jerry Bullock, who is going to give it to his 70 year–old wife. Jerry gave Rocky plenty of money to work with so it would come out spectacular. It’s quite evident that Rocky is another artist. The paint job alone was gorgeous, which included a very detailed paint job on the engine as well. The 350 Chevy Corvette engine was ground down to smoothness so the paint could go one evenly and smoothly. Awesome. Even the bottom of the car was spectacular.

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In the back of the garage was a ’64 Pontiac GTO that needed a lot of work. Cliff mentioned that he needed a body panel so he just made it from scratch. In another room, Rocky converted it into a paint shop. Inside, under wraps, was an old Jaguar that they had just dropped an engine into, but it was a long-term project.

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Metal benders like Cliff and Rocky can turn a piece of metal into art, functional art. They built a real Dream Machine, pretty much from scratch.

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There’s an interesting article about restoring a car that is in much more detail than I can give. Check out this Dream Machine project at:  http://www.chevyhardcore.com/project-cars/project-swinger/project-swinger-the-project-build-wrap-up-for-our-71-nova-part-i/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=project-swinger-the-project-build-wrap-up-for-our-71-nova-part-i

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