There is a fear that caring for, maintaining and rebuilding old cars will become a forgotten pastime and fade into being just another piece of history. However, although few and far between, there are school programs working to keep the hobby alive, and this is one of the many success stories.
Cape Cod Tech auto collision shop in Harwich, Mass., teaches history to high school students in a different fashion: They engage students in the ins and outs of vehicle restoration, completing one project per year to keep up with their two-year waiting list. For 2014, it was a very lucky Mitch Michonski’s 1968 Volkswagen Beetle.
Aside from the canvas top that was sent out to a specialist, Paul’s Upholstery, the entire VW was stripped down and completely restored by the Cape Tech crew. “They did a fantastic job, I couldn’t have asked for better,” Mitch said. And not only did he come back to a like-new 1968 Beetle, the most exciting part of the project for Mitch was the looks on the students’ faces while they dug into the project. “They were really into it,” he said. This proud car owner was honored to help in aiding the student’s education and fueling their passion.
Schools like Cape Cod Tech offer valuable and educationally relevant practice while sparking their student’s interest and inspiring imagination. The younger generation learning about old-school body and mechanical techniques is of upmost importance. Stripping down a car brings ample practice in sand blasting and sanding, but also brings a fascination with old technology to light. Putting it all back together with the original nuts and bolts isn’t what they would normally do on modern cars, and every old car is built a little differently; no project is ever the same.
These hands-on programs are known to inspire the students to bring home restoration projects of their own and in turn can aide in keeping them out of trouble. The feeling of making a difference by restoring a piece of history is nothing short of satisfying, and it can be life-changing. What students take away from these classes is invaluable to their future and to the future of the hobby.