Cool McCool visits: The Ionia Rod Shop.

Posted: December 27, 2012 in Hot Rod
Tags: ,

DSC04143 (1024x768)From time to time, the staff here gets tired of the mess at the CMcC World Headquarters, and we go visit our hot rodding friends.  Today was one of those days.  We loaded up the short bus with students from the Gilmore Garage Works program at the Gilmore Car Museum, several of the mentors, and headed for the wild, uncharted wilderness of Ionia Michigan.  There, proprietors Dennis and Matt Lesky treated us to a tour of their shop, the several “in-progress” cars they have going, and Dennis’ own ’32 RPU project.  They had also gotten “Regret” out and drove it to the shop so the kids could see what a REAL hot rod looks like, salt spray, road grime and all.

Matt, holding court.

Matt, holding court.

'34 Chev chassis

’34 Chev chassis

Matt and Dennis explained to the students and mentors how they make their own chassis, using fabricated rails, and their own proprietary “K” members and boxing plates.   The students got to see two chassis on the frame jigs, the one at left a ’32 Ford, their “standard” hot rod chassis, and a ’34 Chevrolet on the next jig.  That one required a completely new frame table, and careful measuring of a stock ’34 Chevrolet frame, as  it’s completely different from the Fords they specialize in.   

From there, we saw a two customer  cars on rolling chassis,  one a ’32 5 window, the other a ’32 roadster with a Brookville body.   Dennis explained to the group that while the Brookville body seems expensive, the original 5 window body will actually cost more, due to the extensive bodywork required to bring it back from the dead (an eBay deal is not always a deal!). 

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If the students didn’t fully appreciate the craftsmanship and imagination that goes into building a hot rod of the caliber that comes out of this little shop, the adults certainly did, especially this one.  Dennis brushes this off by saying, “We’re good at grinding.”, but the truth is that each of the components that go into one of their builds is an individual work of art.  Sculpture in metal, made from flat stock, tubing, imagination and skill.  The difference between an “off the shelf” bracket or battery holder, and pure art.  See below…

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After the visit to their shop, we went up the street to the body shop where Dennis’ own ’32 RPU is getting ready for paint.   He’s got a 2014 GNRS  (Grand National Roadster Show in LA) deadline, the car will be a contender for the  AMBR (Americas Most Beautiful Roadster) trophy, competing against cars costing well into 7 figures,  but almost certainly lacking in the personal devotion to craftsmanship, and eye for detail of the builds coming from this father-son team.  Dennis does admit it’s always cheaper to buy a trophy than to “win” one, but you can’t put a cost on fullfilling a dream.

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Now, recharged, re-inspired, we can get back to our own projects, and hope a little of Dennis and Matt rubbed off.  Thanks guys!

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