Gilmore Garage Works visits: Ionia Hot Rod Shop.

Posted: December 31, 2013 in Gilmore Car Museum, Hot Rod, Muscle car, Traditional Custom Cars
Tags: , , , , ,

They say it’s not what you know, but WHO you know, and I know some interesting people! The past couple of years I’ve been involved as a mentor in the Gilmore Car Museums “Gilmore Garage Works” program for local young people. It’s a chance for kids to get involved with the old car hobby, learn some life skills, and see a side of life they might not otherwise have a chance to be part of.

Plus, I get to hang out with my friends, make “road trips”, and otherwise goof-off on a chilly winter day.

Yesterday was one of those days, when I got invited to tag along as the Garage Works gang loaded up on the short bus, and headed for Ionia Michigan, to visit Dennis and Matt Lesky at “Ionia Hot Rod Shop”.

Dennis and Matt, as usual, had a couple of very cool, traditional hot rod builds going on for us to see. Dennis showed us the Brookville ’32 roadster they’re building with their trademark oval and rectangular tubing inner bracing, a killer ’32 RPU lakes style modified, and Dennis’s own ’32 RPU project. As always, their philosophy of keeping it simple, using imagination and craftsmanship as opposed to simply ordering bits from a catalogue, is an inspiration for both the young people, and us grizzled old veterans.

In addition, they have a reason to sweep up the shop, and take a break from the usual day-to-day “grind”!

The short bus arrives at Ionia Hot Rod Shop

The short bus arrives at Ionia Hot Rod Shop

Dennis, holding court.

Dennis, holding court.

Matt explains to ChoptopJimmy the finer points of Lakes Modified style.

Matt explains to ChoptopJimmy the finer points of Lakes Modified style.

Matt's "mistake".  Don't toss that trunk mount panel away, I'm stealing that idea...

Matt’s “mistake”. Don’t toss that trunk mount panel away, I’m stealing that idea…

Can a Dodge radiator shell work on a Ford?  We think so...

Can a Dodge radiator shell work on a Ford? We think so…

Dennis shows us the right way to set up a '32 frame.  Buzz-box welding on the shop floor?  I don't think so!

Dennis shows us the right way to set up a ’32 frame. Buzz-box welding on the shop floor? I don’t think so!

As an added bonus, Matt and Dennis then took us just down the road to another Ionia shop, “Wing’s Auto Art”, where their specialty is (extremely) high-end muscle car restoration. The shop is home to some of the country’s best muscle cars, with several in-progress builds for us to see. Pontiac’s were well represented, with three early 70’s Trans Am’s, a 68 Firebird, and ’68 GTO in various stages of build. In addition, the shop itself was worth a visit, itself a testament to good planning and vision. Thanks to Nyle Wing, owner, for allowing us to stop by!

Now, THAT's a  nice garage.

Now, THAT’s a nice garage.

Nyle Wing tells us how he gets it done, with a 442 as background.

Nyle Wing tells us how he gets it done, with a 442 as background.

'73 TA SD.  This what 60K gets.  A car needing a frame off restoration.  These guys are the place to bring a project like this.

’73 TA SD. This what 60K gets. A car needing a frame off restoration. These guys are the place to bring a project like this.

If you think "Fast and Loud", with contrived drama, ridiculous deadlines, and cheesy commentary is how the real world works, think again.  13 months, thousands of hours labor and serious skills is how the real world works.

If you think “Fast and Loud”, with contrived drama, ridiculous deadlines, and cheesy commentary is how the real world works, think again. 13 months, thousands of hours labor and serious skills is how the real world works.

It was a GREAT day, thanks Dennis, Matt, and Nyle, for opening your shops, and sharing your time with a bunch of kids and old duffers! Now, I think I need to go out and clean up the shop…

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Comments
  1. Keith Vander Pol says:

    Kudos to the Gilmore mentoring program and its volunteers. Thanks also for bringing us along for a glimpse of places we would not otherwise see.

  2. scotty gosson says:

    Thanks for sharing, Brian – fun read (with eye candy). And a tip of the grinding disc to the Gilmore mentoring program, both shops, and yourself for investing your time and experience in these young people!

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