Tag Archives: Packard
A recent Akron Beacon Journal article showed us how automotive restoration projects can be a bridge to a more productive life for troubled youngsters.
In some ways, the 1948 Packard Victoria Convertible is a metaphor for the kids who will be restoring it: a treasure hiding beneath the visible dings and dents of a hard life.
But as with all the various “therapies” used with at-risk teens at the Packard Institute near Akron, turning the hunter green auto that’s currently missing its ragtop into a shimmering silver head-turner will teach them about the power of second chances.
Packard Institute, a Highland Square-based nonprofit that works mostly with young people struggling with substance abuse, took possession of the car with the intention of making it the “flagship” of the organization. The institute’s founder, Raynard Packard, is a distant cousin to James and William Packard, who founded Packard Automobiles in Warren, Ohio in 1899, “so it’s only fitting,” he said.
“About three years ago, we started getting these antique automobiles,” Packard said. “It’s a lot of fun, and the kids learn a skill set, but it’s really about building relationships. The car is a fun by-product of the relationships.”
Among the volunteers who have worked with the youngsters is Greg Delagrange, a Barberton, Ohio car restorer and Packard auto expert. “Greg has given $50,000 worth of hours with these kids,” Packard said.
“Some of these kids come from homes, let’s just say they aren’t the Cleavers,” Delagrange said, referencing the "Leave It to Beaver" sitcom from the ’50s and ’60s. “Sometimes I think they’re like this car: They get dumped and abandoned.” Others have attentive parents, but end up turning to drugs for a variety of reasons.
For more of the story, please read the complete article here.
Now that we're starting to settle into our new workshop and photo/video studio here at the Eastwood headquarters, I've been able to turn my attention back to making progress on Project Pile House. At this point the truck has the silhouette that I've been envisioning, but it just needs a lot more rust repair and final finishing of the body mods, and some more associated work I've got on my to-do list. I've decided I want to take a break from some of the visual enhancements and get back to making the truck closer to being roadworthy. This includes making a new firewall that fits around the Chevy 350 crate engine from Pace Performance and the Chevy TH-350 transmission from TCI Transmissions.
Our new tech-help guy Mike was eager to help me extract the old firewall. Mike has years of body shop experience and knows his way around a grinder and jumped right on board with chopping up the truck to make it better! Make sure you welcome Mike if you call or email and speak with him, he's a great addition to the Eastwood family.
Now with the firewall cut out I can start making some templates to make a new smooth firewall for the truck. I'm still undecided if I want to run some beads around the perimeter from 18 gauge or if I want to use some thicker 16 gauge and make the firewall completely smooth. Like a lot of things with custom cars, it'll take some standin' around and eyeballin' things to figure out what looks best. Once I've got a template made up, I'll move on to the real thing out of steel and I'll be sure to post the process here on the blog as I progress!
I also hit up my favorite local junkyard to rummage around their classic car section and see what sort of goodies I could find for Pile House. I'm not a fan of billet accessories on this build and I wanted a steering column housing and steering wheel that I could customize and keep it looking period correct. I settled on a late 40's Packard column housing that has a cool oval housing and intergrated turn signal switch. I plan to shave the shifter hole (I'm running a floor shifter) and smooth it out before mounting it up. I think I can make a custom steering shaft that fits the S10 steering joint and box on the chassis and integrate it to fit the Packard housing. I've started by gutting the surround and now I can start modifying it to fit into the new firewall. I'm still on the hunt for a steering wheel that grabs me, I feel like I've looked at just about every steering wheel from the 30's-60's at this point!
Stay tuned, with the weather warming up I'm itching to get Pile House on the road this summer!
Some of the best craftsmanship often times comes from the shops and builders that aren't bragging at every cruise-in, swap meet, car show, and local bar. They are too busy cranking out quality pieces of automotive art and let their work speak for itself. This is exactly the way things seem at Pollock Auto Restoration, they are situated in an old part of town in Pottstown, PA (just miles from Eastwood headquarters) in a building that could easily be missed if you were just passing by. There aren't signs miles away, rows of cars out on the street, or any other things you see at other shops that attract customers. The cliental and cars that come into Pollock Auto are there because they know the shop reputation and its long history of building and restoring extremely rare and unique vehicles.
The business and the building itself have a long history in the antique and classic car world and although the exterior hasn't changed much over the years, the inside of the building has. This location was originally a coal yard until the early 1900's. The building was constructed in the early 1920's as a silk mill until Levitz Furniture took over. Mr. Bill Pollock took over the second level of the building in the early 1950's and it became the home for his "showcase" of rare cars, a museum of sorts. Mr. Pollock had a ramp and industrial winch system built into the building (you can see it in the picture above) that allowed him to pull his cars to the second floor and easily rearrange cars in the building. To this day they still use the original winch and ramp system he had built!
Ralph DeStefano started working for the Showcase in 1981 and Mr. DeStefano began operating "Pollock Auto Restoration" in 1995. Ralph and crew were master metal workers and quickly the business gained a reputation for their high quality of work. Fast forward about 13 years and the shop was taken over by Michel Engard who has been running his other shop "Ragtops & Roadsters" successfully since 1990. Michel and crew have managed to keep a lot of the vintage tools that came with the building and you can still almost imagine how things looked inside many years ago. The shop is extremely clean, every corner you turn and door you open, you'll see another line of extremely rare cars waiting their turn.
We were lucky enough to get to learn about how they functioned smoothly in such a huge space. We even got to see some of their vintage, industrial-sized metal working tools in action like the PullMax and English Wheel. Amongst these tools we spotted an old Eastwood Shrinker Stretcher that they use regularly to this day! They also were happy to show off some of the retired tools that were left behind in the building. Sadly the bits from the foundry the previous owner built have since been donated to surrounding auto museums, but it was still neat to see some of the one-off antiquated tools around the building.
We were delighted to get a tour around the shop and see how they truly were a "one-stop" restoration business. Nothing needed to be shipped off to other shops, they could do it all from mechanical to body/paint and even interior. Each department had a seasoned expert in that field that focused on that part of the build. This approach really lets everyone perfect their part of the process on each car and make sure it leaves as good or better than it would have from new! Check out the picture gallery below for a virtual tour of the facility and make sure you visit their site and like them on Facebook!
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