For those who restore vintage cars, no cost is too high, no work too hard

wcrenshaw@macon.comOctober 16, 2013 

Restoring old cars takes a lot of patience, time and money, but what it may require most all is a great sense of optimism.

Where some people see a rusty piece of junk surrounded by weeds, car restorers see a treasure waiting to be reborn and a challenge waiting to be accepted.

At the Museum of Aviation’s annual Wings and Wheels car show Saturday, Tom Zorn, of Rebecca, relaxed in a chair beside his red and white 1957 Ford Thunderbird that looked about like it must have the day it rolled off the assembly line.

Then Zorn flipped through a book and showed what it looked like when he got his hands on it about 10 years ago. His uncle bought the car new and let Zorn drive it to his high school graduation, but the car fell on hard times later.

“He used to use it to herd cows,” Zorn said. “It sat in a cow pasture for about eight years.”

When Zorn got the car it was basically a rusty old shell. He promised his uncle he would restore it, but his uncle died about a year before he finished it.

“It’s been like a labor of love,” Zorn said. “It’s kind of like a memorial to my uncle.”

He did all of the work himself except for the paint job. He worked on it regularly for nine years and spent $64,613 on it.

Another person at the show who started a restoration job from scratch was Mike Gregg, of Warner Robins. He restored a 1942 Harley Davidson WLA, which was built for the U.S. Army. Gregg restored it to exactly how it looked when used by the military, including a rifle holster on the front.

“I had a grandfather who was in World War II, and I was proud of him and what he stood for, so I thought it would be a neat thing to do as a restoration project,” Gregg said.

He bought the bike from an elderly man in Indiana who had taken the engine off it and put it on a go cart. Gregg retrieved the engine from the go-kart, which was rusting in a field.

He has gotten parts for the bike from all over the world. A Robins Air Force Base employee, he often rides the bike to work.

On Thursday the base announced the museum was being closed temporarily because of the partial government shutdown.

The car show was allowed to go on because it was an outdoor event. The museum moved its gift shop outside since attendees couldn’t go inside.

Bob Dubiel, museum spokesman and chairman of the car show, said the closing of the museum did not appear to impact the show. He said 246 vehicles registered, and the crowd looked about normal.

To contact writer Wayne Crenshaw, call 256-9725.

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