Car restoration is a great hobby |

Car restoration is a great hobby

by John Hefner

If you know me then you know that I have a love of classic cars. Currently, I am working on a ’64 El Camino. It is truly a Frankenstein of a car, but it deserves to be saved from the crusher. So, I am doing my best. Fortunately for me I have the help of several friends and the Automotive Program at Western Nevada College. I was recently a party to a discussion on how to bring attention to the program. Students today are so directed to academia that the trades are losing talented, and much needed, technicians. Modern cars are so sophisticated that you nearly need a master’s or Ph.D. to diagnosis and fix any issues.

The dilemma is convincing millennials that being an auto mechanic is an honorable, and can be a rewarding, career. Unfortunately, WNC is competing with the big trade schools such as UTI in Sacramento and the big universities. A 15-month course at UTI will cost the student about $45,000 as opposed to less than about $10,000 at WNC. It may take another year to get an associate’s degree and all the student ASE certificates, but saving $35,000 has to be worth it. Also, that figure does not include housing or food.

I have been attending WNC for the past 12 months and I have had a great experience with knowledgeable instructors and great equipment to work on vehicles. Open disclosure, I like saving money and doing the work myself whenever possible. Their program has given me the opportunity to do a lot of that lately.

Bottom line is if you have a high-schooler encourage them to consider a trade. We need plumbers, electricians and mechanics. Each of them can provide for their family and all of them pay better than retail or fast food.

Keeping with my automotive theme, I have noticed several postings on some forums I participate in. Here are just a few.

One poster took his brake rotors (they stop your car) into a retail store. He asked the clerk to determine if the rotors can be turned, which is a process of cutting off a small amount from each side to smooth them out. He was quite shocked when the clerk took out a measuring device and started measuring the width of the rotor surface instead of the thickness. The picture was better than the story, but the car guys get it.

In another post a racer was at the race track (yes they still do that in some places). He needed new spark plugs in a hurry and sent his wife to the local retail auto store. The wife showed the spark plugs to the clerk and said she needed eight of them. The clerk looked over the spark plugs and referred the wife to Walmart and stated that these were light bulbs and she could get them there.

Trust me, I am not an expert. I have many of my own personal embarrassing stories of my own. I think you get the point that we need some additional interest in automotive trades. This is especially true if you are going to work in an auto store.

This leads me to the numerous car shows on the horizon, there are still a lot of classics on the road and good shops need skilled mechanics that can work on both old and new cars. Up First is Holy Smokers which will be on May 5 down in Gardnerville, then comes Big Momma’s on the 12th at Lampe Park. In June Karson Kruzers are back with Run Whatcha brunch at Fuji. COD Garage will be hosting several shows throughout the season and Hamdogs Cruise nights have begun on Wednesday evenings around 5 p.m. There are many more, so keep your eye out. Locally, our own Troop 33 has set their car show for August 18. You can visit their website at There you will find the registration form. The entry is $40 and all the funds go to the Scouts to go to summer camp and other high adventure trips.

It is a great time of year. Car shows and garage sailing make for an enjoyable weekend for me. I will be looking for ’64 El Camino parts! Get out enjoy the shows and sales!

Please send any announcements or organization information to