Long before I was old enough to drive, I brought my first car home to my parents who looked more expectant than surprised. The vehicle was a classic and I was proud of it. Although I could not yet drive, I couldn’t wait to get elbows deep in old car improvements. From then on, whatever my allowance could afford was spent on making that car the best it could be.
After two years of amateur restoration, I sold the car to my neighbour for twice what I had invested at only fourteen years old. At that moment, I knew I was hooked, not by profit but rather the fact that someone else saw value in what I had created.
It wasn’t long after this that I took on a new project, somehow convincing my parents to allow me to perform a frame off restoration in their front yard, much to the delight of our neighbours. Under a tarp, in the dirt and armed with only a modest set of hand tools, I set out to prove to myself that anything was possible if I worked hard enough.
Seasons came and went in that front yard, and necessity gave way to ingenuity to overcome the ever changing conditions of the environment I was working in. Over the course of my work, I had made every mistake more than once, and was met by every obstacle. I restored every piece of that car two or three times to get it right, not willing to accept anything less than perfection. At the same time, my knowledge and understanding of automobiles was improving exponentially. I developed technique, instigated best practices, garnered comprehension and learned how to educate myself.
This process continued on for nearly three years, until there was finally a light at the end of the tunnel as we neared the finish line. I didn’t know it then, but I was slowly closing in on the final phase of the restoration. During this final 10%, you, as the restorer, are physically, mentally and emotionally finished but the restored vehicle is far from complete. This is the hardest part of a restoration and where most projects derail. This is where you truly learn if your planning and preparation was enough, where you fell short and whether or not you have to redesign the project to work around your miscalculations.
I learned a lot about myself during the last 10% of that project. I learned most of my friends and family believe I suffer from some form of obsessive compulsive disorder and that good enough is not in my vocabulary. The most meaningful lesson I learned, however, was that I was capable of creating, planning, and executing a vision to the highest standards.
At only 18 years old, I had completed the restoration. Since then, I have not stopped restoring classic automobiles. I still work by the same principles and philosophies today that I developed all those years ago and I guide my team by the same lessons I learned at such a young age. With over half a lifetime dedicated to these details, automotive restoration has become more than a passion, and much more than a profession, it has become my DNA.