Blast from the Past Street Rods
"Blast From The Past", Bill Borneman's cutting edge repro and restoration shop, is located just minutes from Eastwood’s home base in Pottstown, PA. The modern 5,000-square-foot shop is packed with work, and you'd be delighted to have any one of his approximately fifteen ongoing jobs parked in your garage!
Like many of us, Borneman began as an enthusiast and hobbyist. He began his first project, a ’39 Chevy, in 1962, when he was just 15 years old. Borneman worked for many years in Pottstown's Firestone Tire and Rubber plant, and after the plant closed, operated a gas station and worked in management for a fuel oil company. After several decades of working for others, Bill was inspired to follow his passion and be his own boss. Bill talked it over with his wife and the two of them decided to make the leap. "Blast from the Past" officially opened in 2000.
Who wouldn't enjoy coming to work if they had Bill's job? On a recent visit, we encountered a bright red Cobra replica, parked next to an open-wheeled ’32 Ford five-window, which was nose-to-nose with a repro Willys pickup, that was being tailgated by a ’32 three-window, that sat next to a ’57 T-Bird repro! All were simply beautiful, most of them complete cars that were returned for varying degrees of additional work.
Toward the rear of "Blast From The Past", the "heavy" work is undertaken. There's an extensive metal-working area containing shears, brake, English Wheel and other essentials—much of it straight from Eastwood's catalog — and a large paint booth. Borneman said he uses a lot of Eastwood paints because he likes the selection and the results he gets. He said that the Eastwood paints, combined with the high skill level of his very talented painter, mean that almost no buffing is needed when the car comes out of the booth. "We still buff ’em anyway, but it's amazing how great they look coming out of the booth!'" he said.
"I also use a lot of Eastwood's chassis and underhood coatings, and their engine paints. The quality is just what I want." Borneman continued. "I like that the Eastwood product reps are knowledgeable about their stuff—equipment or supplies. They can be a big help when you have questions."
If Bill’s cars have a signature feature, it might be their uncluttered dashboards. “I like to hide stuff," he said with a grin. "l like to see a dash that doesn't have any knobs or controls. I hide them in glove boxes, accessible by hidden switches, anything I can do. On one project, I actually hid the shifter! I loved people's expressions as they looked inside, and realized there was none, and tried to figure it out!"
Bill's advice to anyone looking to make a career out of street rod construction is as simple and straightforward as he is. First, try to find a school that offers a street rod course of study. Then, Borneman suggests, find a shop that has a good reputation for quality, and see if you can work for them. The important thing, Borneman stresses, is to come onto the job as a student, not just as a worker. "Don’t come to work for the check; come to work for the knowledge." he advises. As knowledge and skill are gained, so will income, he suggests.
Recently Borneman's son, Dave, joined the company. The pair have completed a few father-son projects together on a hobby/personal basis, so professional collaboration seems like a logical next step!