PUBLISHER'S PERSPECTIVE: Fueling the Next Generation - BodyShop Business

PUBLISHER’S PERSPECTIVE: Fueling the Next Generation

Last week when I returned home from a trip to the West Coast, my mind drifted to one of my most difficult tasks: what to write about in my column this month. I know it sounds simple, but for me, it’s fairly difficult to choose an appropriate topic.

Eventually, I decided to write about something that’s off the beaten path. It’s a project I embarked upon some time ago with my 16-year-old son. Before you think I’ve lost my mind, rest assured it’s an automotive-related project. Remember, inside this writer beats the heart of a pure car guy.

Three decades ago, a dear lady in my life gave me her 1962 Oldsmobile Super 88 when she could no longer drive. Since this four-door behemoth was hardly what a 17-year-old punk wanted to tool around in, I set it aside and kept on being a teenager with the Chevelles and Camaros of the day. The Olds bounced in and out of storage arrangements and was never given even an ounce of love.

Fast forward 30 years when one Sunday afternoon, my son convinced me to go see the Olds in the shipping container it had been stored in for too many years. I thoroughly expected to find a pile of red dust but was surprised to find her intact with air still in the tires. Opening the hood revealed the ugly side of neglect. I’ll spare you the horrid details, but I’m sure your imagination can run wild here.

At first, I was sad, but then I got mad at myself for letting the Olds get this way. On the ride home, I told my son I was going to offer it up to whichever guy on wanted to come get it. But that didn’t match up with his expectations at all.

His response was something like, “You’re going to do what? After you’ve kept it all these years?”

Needless to say, a nice father-son restoration project began. I won’t go into all the details, but let me just say that I’ve learned a lot already during this project. All I can say is that combining teenage boys with air tools can produce much comedy.

I’ve also learned that my son is determined to find a career in our industry. For years, I had forbidden any discussion of him entering the automotive world, but during our hours and days in the garage together, I realized how passionate he was about his career ambition…just like another young man named Shriber I remember 35 years ago.

Our industry plays a vital part in keeping our great nation on the move. Far be it for me to discourage such a strong will on my son’s part to be part of it. Each of us will probably have the opportunity at some point to nudge someone toward a career, and our space is a great one in which to make a living. We all need to ensure that young people get in it and learn it.

I will from time to time give those of you who are old car enthusiasts an update on my son’s and my labor of love. Feel free to drop me a pointer or two as we progress. The Olds arrives home for a nice father-son project.

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