Dave Perry and Old School Restorations
Born in ’42, I got my first fiberglass ‘itch ‘in 1956 when I began building my second street rod, the 47 Chevy Fastback that I got after my dad bought a new Mercury Montclair. Early, you may think, but I learned basic wiring at age 10 or so, then I taught myself to weld when I was 12, later built a fiberglass garden pool in 1958-59. Dad worked a lot then, so I didn’t get much help on the cars, but that was also an advantage, since we only had a part-time policeman I was able to run the hills of my home town pretty freely, first in my Crosley ( which ended up with a 49 Olds v8 drive train), then the Chevy, which had a ¾ Jimmy w/floor shift, by then.
The early days in fiberglass were quite wasteful, as techniques were just being developed… people like myself, knew very little, had no instruction, and learned by trial and error. Of course, some of the early “greats” on the West Coast had developed some methods that worked well, but as usual ,most of us in the East were behind by a LOT. Of course, a 15 year old kid was even further behind the pro’s.. Actually, the California “kit car “ bodies did get better about the same time , 1957, so I guess we weren’t THAT far behind, it just seemed it then..
Over the years, either by ‘trial and error’ or researching, working with fiberglass has become less fretful, and we have achieved some pretty good results in both repair and molding. While involved with both Hi Performance Sailboats and Mastercraft ski boats, I was able to gain a lot of knowledge from some top level boat molding operations…especially as to coring composites, and weight and strength ratios with sailboats such as the Olympic Laser and 20? Catamarans that we raced.
I think retirement means being able to work when you want. Consequently, our shop has VERY flexible hours. Located on a major divided 4-lane, we generally have a half dozen frame-off vintage kit cars and racecars at various levels of restoration in the 4000 ‘ shop.. Optimistically, we also maintain a fair selection of Vintage Bodies…so visitors usually see LaDawri Daytona, Sebring, Victress Coupes, a couple of Devins, Kellisons, early Aztec and later Valkyrie all at the same time, among several vintage race cars…like the Dave Ridenour USRRC GT. “ In Alabama, of all places!”, said former Kit Car Magazine’s Eric Geisert. We are always watching for the scarcer bodies…we recently had one of the two 1958 English made Tornado Typhoons that were in the US, but just shipped it to a gentleman in Germany…so now Bob Wismer has the only known example in the States.
We have the luxury of not working on customers cars, although we occasionally will accept a “ special “ project. A family car with a lot of history is hard to pass up, as not being “ special “. Most of the cars we restore have history, although some do not. Often, like the Typhoon, the cars are acquired by others before we get to finish them, as a lot of buyers ‘want it their way ‘ .
Since the recent resurgence of interest in vintage cars and racing, we try to pass on “tips” when appropriate, and encourage owners and prospective owners in their restoration efforts, and try to answer all calls and emails that come to us through the website http://www.race-cardrivers.com/shop.htm
We still try to get a few vintage road race track events and hill climbs each year…but it’s about the cars now, not coming in first, anymore. I guess I am retired
Best Regards to you all,
Vintage KitCars and Racecars