Today I have the honor of introducing you to a new friend of Undiscovered Classics – Austin Paruch of Paruch Automotive Craftsmanship in Appleton, Wisconsin. I met Austin through a mutual friend with his own “Undiscovered Classics” history – Bill Hebal. Bill has quite a bit of history with “Undiscovered Classic” cars himself.
At one time, Bill owned both the Bosley Mark I and the Bosley Interstate. And if that isn’t impressive enough, Bill has owned other handcrafted cars such as the Troy Special and the 1946 Reichenback Special which we’ve written about here too at Undiscovered Classics. So when I hear a suggestion from Bill that I need to meet a talented young artisan that restores and creates beautiful historic automobiles – it certainly catches my attention.
I called Austin up and we talked a bit via phone and e-mail. Austin is not just a restorer but has now undertaken building his first of what he hopes to be up to five new models of a sports car. There’s lots to cover here gang, but let’s first learn more about Austin Paruch. Here’s what Austin shares about his company on his company’s website:
“Paruch (pa-roosh) Automotive Craftsmanship is a growing company of passionate craftsmen dedicated to delivering world class restoration and coachbuilding services to passionate automotive enthusiasts, collectors, and investors. We work with private clients as well as industry leading restoration facilities to deliver world class results. While our staff is uniquely experienced with vintage Italian makes, we happily service all makes and models, foreign and domestic.”
So we have a talented and enterprising young man who is taking on an old-world skill to restore and create cars using the best techniques available. I can’t think of a more exciting story to share than one with exactly these points. I asked Austin to put together a story about his first car – a car that he calls the Strada Americana and that’s the subject for today’s story. Take it away Austin 🙂
The Strada Americana
From The Desk of Austin Paruch
Our Strada Americana project was born out of our passion and collective need to be creative in our work at my shop, Paruch Automotive Craftsmanship in Appleton, Wisconsin. The guys and I had spent countless hours chatting about building our own designs, and the time had come to turn all that talk into action.
The earliest seeds of our Strada Americana project were sewn several years ago while crew member Nick Yost, long time Ferrari restorer, and I were working for a prominent restorer of classic Italian cars. While reconditioning some of the worlds most beautiful and valuable cars, we often fantasized about building our own project cars. It was a tremendous blessing to gain experience in that environment. We all developed an appreciation for Italian design, hand built sports cars, and ultimately the skills required to tackle such a challenge. Not to mention, we were able to develop a friendly network of world class craftspeople.
In the summer of 2019, I started following a Mark Savaroy of Modenawest. He frequently posts his restyled illustrations of classic Italian automotive designs that incorporate modern features without compromising the integrity of the original design. These designs resonated with me deeply, so decided to reach out and connect with this talented, like minded individual. I was initially struck by one of his renderings that was based on an OSCA MT4.
Coincidently, just a year or so earlier we had been involved with the metal restoration on an MT4; during that restoration, we frequently talked about the simple construction methods and how fun it would be to build our own cars from scratch. I was very interested in building his design, but after a few messages back and forth, it was decided that we would take steps to develop our own unique design. We wanted a project that would showcase our hard earned skills and our passion for Italian designed vintage sports cars.
The designer wisely recommended I reach out to Dan Palatnik for help with generating a unique design. You may be familiar with Dan’s work. His 3D rendering is second to none. We studied historic photos of vintage race cars like Ferrari, OSCA, Maserati etc… and chose one in particular to use as a starting point for the design.
In what seemed like pure magic, Dan was able to convert this two dimensional photo into a three dimensional image with nearly infinite adjustiaility. Once we generated the 3D image, we manipulated the scale to our desired chassis dimensions, wheel base, and track width. After that, we were able to dive into the body design. This is when we adjusted cockpit location, fender lofting, and body shapes and sweeps. Over the course of roughly two weeks, we exchanged emails and change notes until we created a unique design that we all agreed was attractive, buildable and saleable.
The design combines recognizable styling cues from several iconic Italian cars. A Ferrari style grill opening, OSCA inspired louvers, and a wrap around windscreen all harken back to its origins in Italian racecars. While much of the influence was derived from Italian design, many keen observers see elements of Porsche, Jaguar, and Austin Healey designs. Response to the design has been overwhelmingly positive, and we are super excited to move forward with the build process.
Wisconsin is home to one of the greatest road race courses in the world. Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin is an amazing racetrack nestled near a beautiful small town on a picturesque lake. There may not be another place on earth that rivals the automotive passion found within and around The Road America race track in this quaint little town. It is from this place that we drew inspiration for the name of the car. Given the Italian design influence, “Strada Americana” seemed fitting.
We encourage people to reach out to us with questions, comments, and inquiries about custom builds, restoration projects, and fabrication jobs.
Although Austin didn’t mention it, work has begun on his Strada Americana. The 3D rendered design has entered our world and is now a body buck which allows Austin and his crew to begin work creating the body panels.
In the photo below, you can see the initial aluminum body panels beginning to take shape. Once each panel is created, they have to be welded together and smoothed out to create a single, unblemished surface. This is quite an effort to do – one that is truly an old-world skill.
And while I shared the photo of Austin and Nick next to their newly acquired power hammer at the beginning of this story, Austin and Nick are fully acquainted with the English wheel and other tools as shown in the photos below.
For those of you interested, you can learn more about the Strada Americana and Paruch Automotive Craftsmanship via the links below.
And be sure to check out Austin’s interview with our friend Mark Greene on Cars Yeah:
We wish Austin and his team the greatest of success as they grow and look forward to featuring more stories of their car and projects in the near future. Go get ’em Austin and Team!
Hope you enjoyed the story, and remember…
The adventure continues here at Undiscovered Classics.