Restoring cars a big investment

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November 22, 2013 - 12:00 AM

Mike Schwindt and Jim West gave Iola Rotarians Thursday an inside look at the workings of car shows and the autos that have made them so popular.
The Rotarians will sponsor their second Neil Westervelt Memorial Car Show and also assume sponsorship of a barbecue cook-off at the 2014 Allen County Fair.
Schwindt — who makes his living restoring cars — gave an inside look of what it takes to produce a show car, with photos of his start-to-finish work on a 1965 Chevelle Malibu.
At the start, a car is reduced to a pile of parts, down to the last bolt in the frame, Schwindt said. “We then redo it from the frame up” at his shop at 317 N. Buckeye.
To document the work, and make sure all goes back together as it should, Schwindt said he often takes as many as 2,000 photos of the process.
Oftentimes, the investment, including a new coat of paint, can tally up to $100,000, Schwindt said.
With vehicles valued so highly, owners are picky about where they are shown and keep a close eye on the weather as the date of a show approaches, said West, who has redone several vehicles of his own.
“The weather is important,” he said, recalling an area show that often drew 200 entries ended up with about 30 because of a rain storm.
West outlined steps Rotarians should take to ensure their show is well-attended, starting with attraction of sponsors, national and local, and getting out flyers and other information early so that owners may schedule participation.
This year’s first Neil Westervelt Memorial drew about 80 cars, while the Farm-City Days show attracted 120.
“A show of 100 cars is good for a town our size,” West said.
Trophies and plaques are important, but owners also attend shows because “they have a lot of pride in what they built,” he added.
He stressed several times advertising the Rotary show, noting that an owner from north of Omaha came to the Farm-City Days show, a distance of 270 miles, after noticing a flyer for it a few weeks earlier.
“A show is a lot fun and a lot of work,” West said. “We do it because we enjoy our cars. It’s something that gets into your blood.”
Contact Bob Johnson by email at [email protected]

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