1957 Nash Ambassador

Richard and Mary Lou Hurd’s Nash Ambassador

Richard Hurd… “Why do I like Nashautomobiles, you ask?”

“One good reason is that I do not meet many of them when I am driving mine down the road!”

Richard Hurd and his 1957 Nash Ambassador

Richard was working in his Springfield, Vermont shop the morning that I called him. He was working on a boat seat; you see, he has been an upholsterer for over 60 years. This shop is where he has made his living the past 57 years. Asked if he has a specialty and he said he basically does it all, boats, cars, buggies, furniture, and on.

Lately though, he tries to only work from his bench. He has done many auto interiors and other than one problem, he could do them today. The problem, he says with a laugh, is that getting “into” the vehicle is no problem, but then, because “he is getting up there”, he can not get back out! We both laughed about having his wife, Mary Lou, bring him his supper to some vehicle he can not get out of.

Richard is 79 years old and was doing upholstery when he was in high school. I said, by this time he must know his trade and he calmly replied, “Well, I do have some people fooled”.

He has a small stable of antique cars. His first antique car, from many years ago, was a 1937 Ford Tudor that is in fine working shape and sits along side a 1957 Nash Metropolitan that he restored by using two to make one. He also has a 1930 Nash. I found one online and put the pictured left, so you have an idea of what it looks like, this is not Richard’s ‘30 Nash, but one that is similar.

Then there is his ‘57 Nash Ambassador pictured on the front page. Only 1800 pounds heavier than his Metropolitan (3640 lbs. vs 1850 lbs.), and only five feet longer (209 inches vs 1850). The Ambassador also has 327 HP compared to the 50 HP that the Metro packs. To the question about why Nash’s, beside his comment on the front page, Richard said it just makes it easier if they are all one brand. A very good lesson for beginners in this hobby.

Richard purchased his Ambassador when the Nash club had a meet in Massachusetts, about ten years ago. The gent he bought it from had a trailer full of club documents that was being towed by the car, and the Nash had to go home to unhitch the trailer before Richard could take possession. The Nash’s home was a thousand miles away in Illinois. Richard and a friend flew out and drove the car home to Vermont.

I am wondering if some of us have missed something while deciding what old car to collect. Maybe we should have thought more about the Nash brand! My math adds up to four one-thousand mile trips for this Nash, two of them with a trailer attached, before it arrived to its new home in Vermont.

My next question, seems a little silly now, but I asked him what kind of problems he has had with the car in the ten years he has owned it. There was only silence on the phone, Richard was trying to think of some. He finally said he had the engine rebuilt about four years ago after spinning a bearing. Even though the car only needed the bearing fixed, he thought he would play it safe and go through the rest of the engine. He said he has missed only one “Slow Spoke Tour” since it started and many of them have been in his Ambassador. Maybe the Nash advertising slogan was correct in 1927… “Nash leads the World in Motor Car Value”

Richard did tell about his Metropolitan letting him down once. He noticed a “different” noise one time, kind of a grinding sound. He soon found the reason when the front spindle broke and his wheel fell off. Seems to be more excitement with his smaller car!

Thank you Richard for teaching us a little about the Nash brand of automobile.

This from the Nash history books……

The Nash Ambassador is a luxury automobile that was produced by Nash Motors from 1927 until 1957. For the first five years it was a top trim level, then from 1932 on a standalone model. Ambassadors were lavishly equipped and beautifully constructed, earning them the nickname “the Kenosha Duesenberg”. The bodies of the 1952 to 1957 Ambassadors were designed by Italian auto designer Pinin Farina.

For the period between 1929-1934 when Nash produced a line of seven-passenger saloons and limousines, the Ambassador series was the maker’s “flagship”, and remained so following the Nash-Hudson merger in 1954.

From 1958 until 1965, the cars were named Rambler Ambassador, then from 1966 to 1974, as the AMC Ambassador. The continued use the Ambassador model name made it “one of the longest-lived automobile nameplates in automotive history.”

Big Shoes to Fill

As you all, I’m sure, are aware by now, Gary Fiske a number of months ago sent word to the Board of Directors that he had made the big decision to step down as Editor of Wheel Tracks after publication of the October 2021 edition. He did not come to this lightly and let the board know that he needed to slow things down in his life and felt now was the right time to pass the job on to another person (though how can he slow down when he’s now the new president of the VAE and, as we saw in the recent October Wheel Tracks, his wife, Sharon, surprised him with an anniversary gift in the form of an antique GMC fire truck that needs A LOT of work?!)

Gary put out the call for a new editor, and after not hearing from anyone who wanted to take over, he embarked upon an ingenious way to break up the 12 pages of the magazine with 3 editors each taking four pages, and so far he has found two people (yours truly and the duo of Nancy & Ken Gypson). Unfortunately he’s still looking for that special third person but will continue editing pages himself (fortunately for us), until that time comes. So Nancy & Ken and I have agreed to become editors of eight pages. It’s a monumental task for us as neither Ken & Nancy nor I have any experience with MS Publisher. Gary has spent countless hours giving us a crash course on the software, even driving from his home in Enosburg to Colchester where I live not once, but twice, and driving to Poestenkill, New York, and staying overnight with Ken & Nancy to get them up to speed. So please be patient with us as we climb this steep learning curve to deliver to you the quality you’ve become so accustomed to.

Now back to Gary……..

Do you realize that at the end of this year he will have been editor for 11 years?!? That’s 11 years of gathering stories and photos and ideas from anyone and everywhere he could to compile 121 +/- monthly editions. And that’s month after month after month………for 11 years! Every month we’ve looked forward to seeingwhat he’s gathered, what submissions he’s received, what pictures he himself has taken, and every month Gary puts together a magazine as slick as any you might find from an association like ours.

So this is our inaugural issue. I know the Gypsons will agree with me that we have big shoes to fill. We’re up for the task, but please be patient with us as we learn how to make text boxes, insert pictures, line up headers, align, arrange, clip, cut & paste, change fonts, colors, scream, holler, and call Gary for help when you’ve just spent a couple hours on a page and it all of a sudden moves right by six inches seemingly on its own!

(Really, I didn’t do anything, and that’s a true story and I’m sticking to it.) He is ever so patient and calm in the midst of hysteria, even nine o’clock at night at the other end of the phone. Thank you, Gary, for giving all the VAE members a truly wonderful magazine delivered to their door each month. Ken & Nancy and I will hopefully do you proud!

Saying Goodbye

I have written a couple of times about my precious kitty, Willy, and how he came into our lives, along with his history or what was the last 7 years of his life with us.


Well, his time has come to an end, and we have had to say goodbye. We were fortunate to have about 2 weeks to know he was living his last and to try and pamper him and love him even more than usual, if that was possible.
It just amazes me that an animal can work his way into our hearts, even when he wasn’t a perfect kitty by any means. At times, he seemed to love me as much as Gary but then he would run at me and bite and run away. Then he would just stare at me, his face looking like, ‘what are you going to do about that?’ Gary did get bit a few times but never with the frequency of me. He always laid in Gary’s lap but never mine. The closest was him settling himself on the arm of my chair.


He slept at our feet and usually tried to sleep on mine. Doing this he became like a lead weight, and it proved extremely difficult to get him off. Most days he was up at 6 AM and would cry until one of us got up and fed him. By the time he had us up, he would go back to bed for a few hours – so no making the bed until after 10.
He had long hair which was scattered through out the house.


He loved treats and would sit by the dishwasher and cry until you accommodated him, even when he had exceeded the package recommendation of ‘no more than 8 pieces a day’.


He hated going to the Vet and would hide when it was time to corral him into his carrier. I have had to cancel appointments because we couldn’t find him in the house. This behavior led to a long list of tricks, which would never work twice. But, even with all the annoyances, and ‘bad kitty’ behavior, we loved this guy and wept for him when his time came. We still miss him, and I am sure I can hear him in the night coming into our room and jumping on the bed.


My advice to anyone out there considering adopting a pet, whether it be a dog, cat or another animal, know that…..

  1. They probably won’t be perfect
  2. There will be times you will think, ‘why me’ and you will try to think of any place that would take them.
  3. But know, in the end you will have a broken heart for awhile and wish them back no matter how they acted, but you will come to the realization that it was all worth it.

Gary’s 1927 GMC Firetruck

L to R… Gary Olney, Gary F., Judy Boardman, Bill Erskine & Wendell Noble

There are two “innocents” in these pictures, and four “connivers”. Dixie the dog is one innocent, can you guess who is the second?

How do you match the joy of a young child tearing into a surprise birthday gift and discovering that it is just what he’s always wanted?

Well, how about seeing a fellow who’s er, well into adulthood, discover that the surprise anniversary gift from his wife is the rusty relic of a 1927 GMC firetruck that he has been lusting for?


So it has come to pass for VAE folks who took part in making this happen for Gary Fiske. The feature truck had been tucked away in Gael Boardman’s shed behind his tractor and some other machinery and under some other miscellaneous goods that simply needed a place to be. Following Gael’s passing, Judy Boardman sought to dispose of some of his memorabilia stuff into appreciative hands.

L to R… Judy Boardman, Gary & Sharon Fiske


This was accomplished with a very successful VAE auction in July. The firetruck remained, seen but not spoken for.
Sharon Fiske somehow sensed that Gary would like to own it and discretely let it be known to a few friends that she would like to surprise him with it as an anniversary gift. A plan was hatched, a ruse was devised and some bald-faced lies were told to get the surprise underway. It was so well executed that Gary unwittingly took part himself, by lending his trailer and helping to load it, thinking that Bill Erskine would be the happy new owner.


The tires held air, at least for the day, the wheels turned freely and the relic rolled onto Gary’s trailer. Once the truck was loaded for transport, Sharon was cleverly able to dispatch Gary on a wild goose chase while the conspirators trucked it to Gary’s yard. The surprise was total and joyous to witness. Gary just happened to have room under cover for his new treasure along with all the other vehicles that he’ll get to someday.


There is still much to be learned about the fire engine’s origin and history. Therein lies the joy of owning it. Is it a candidate for restoration? If so, to what? In the mean time, Gary can go out and sit in it and imagine that he’s responding to a fire, at 35 MPH, tops.


From the editor & the proud recipient of this little GMC firetruck

I want to thank everyone for this really nice gift, especially my wife Sharon. I kind of pride myself for being “plugged in” when it comes to things around me. I have to admit, I was totally off the grid in this case. When people ask how many project vehicles I need, most of the time I say that I need two more and they will take me to 120 years old. I think I am there.


Now to the fun part that Wendell spoke about. First to find the history on this truck and second to find exactly what I have here. Of course, working on it is the frosting on the cake.


As to the history, the first person I contacted was Gary Irish. Gary lives near the Boardman’s and I was hoping Gael might have mentioned the truck to him. Gary had nothing to offer except an apology; you see he is also one of those ’plugged-in’ folks. Gael’s wife, Judy, can only remember that it appeared one day. So, to all you friends and neighbors of Gael Boardman’s homestead, I would like to hear from you if you have some information.


Next is to find what I have. Dodge Brothers and Franklins are a bit where I come from, I know very little about GMCs. A book by the name of “The First Century of GMC Trucks by Donald Meyer claims there were 12,918 GMC trucks sold in 1927. The beginning for GMC started in 1900 with a single cylinder, chain-drive vehicle with a top speed of 10 MPH and a capacity of one ton.


It goes on to tell how ‘27 was the first year of the GMC T-trucks, the T-20, the T40 and the T50s. The T-50 was a 2-ton truck and had a worm drive rear-end…definitely not mine. The T-40 was a 2-ton truck with a bevel gear rear axle. I will have to look in the pumpkin, but I don’t think this is it either. The T20 is a 1-ton truck and that might be mine.


But wait, later in 1927, GMC started building a new model called a T-10 which was a half-ton delivery truck called a “Speed Wagon”. But no, Meyer claims the T-10s had a Pontiac engine and all the others have Buick engines. My engine is a Buick.


The Buick engine is a valve-in-head L6. The T-20 had a 207 cid engine and the T-40 and T-50 both had 274 cid engines. How can you tell the difference?


My dash plaque claims top vehicle speed is 35 MPH. I bet when I get done tweaking and peaking I will squeeze at least 36MPH out of her, but first I have to un-seize the engine with Gael’s favorite stuff called “Kroil”…….yes!
Can you imagine any more fun than this? I can not.

1966 Ford Fairlane GTA

“I had just about given up, then I remembered my parents had a 1966 or 67 Fairlane. It was a nice car with a 289 and auto transmission. I found this good looking 1966 GTA S-code 2-door in Lynn, Mass.” 

Dave Carpenter, Addison, Vermont

I really enjoy reading articles, be it from Wheel Tracks, Hemmings Muscle Car Magazine or other publications about the men and women that have their first car. 

I am not one of them, although parts of that first ride are still with me, we shall get back to that later. 

It was the 2014 Stowe Show that got us to where we are today in the ownership of our 1966 Fairlane GTA. At the time, I was the Automotive Instructional Aide at Hannaford Career Center in Middlebury . The instructor was not able to use the tickets he had received from the Golden Wrench Award so he asked if I could use them. Not one to pass up a freebee I said: sure. When August rolled around, I said to my wife Mary, let’s go to the Stowe Car Show, I have free tickets. We made a day of it, going for lunch, site seeing and attending the show Friday afternoon. 

As we were getting ready to leave, she asked what was my first car? I responded, “a 1967 Chevelle Convertible”. Then she asked, “what does one look like”? Have you ever been to a car show and seen less than a dozen of that vintage? Well, wrong place and wrong time, as none were to be found, but fortunately I did spot a 1966 Hardtop as we were getting close to the parking lot, on our way out. To my great surprise, she stated, “if you really want to get another one, its OK with me”. Wow, what an offer! I thought I knew pricing on that vintage. Wrong! Want’s are one thing, but I did not need a car that badly to pay what asking prices were. 

I had just about given up, then I remembered my parents had a 1966 or 67 Fairlane. It was a nice car with a 289 and auto transmission. A few minutes on Craigslist and I found a good looking 1966 GTA S code 2-door in Lynn, Mass. We had already planned a trip to see our grandkids who at the time lived in Saugus, only minutes from the car. An appointment was set. We looked at the car, made an offer and two weeks later, Dave Welch and I picked the car up and returned home. 

What impressed me about this car is how complete it was. Sure, it needed a complete once over but it was basically rust free, all trim, emblems and interior original. Mary wanted a complete car, not a project car that would probably never see the road. Always listen to your wife! 

What we have done since 2015 is: a complete suspension rebuild including brakes, springs, shocks and new front end components. The rear end and drive shaft has been rebuilt with new bearings and gears. The engine has had head work done, a new cam and intake manifold. The transmission was totally rebuilt. 

Next on the agenda for 2022 will be new interior pieces such as seat covers and door panels. It will never be a show car but neither was that 67 Chevelle, just a fun car to drive and get an occasional ice cream in. And speaking of that first car, I do have the Motorola 8 track player that was once in the Chevelle. It now resides in the Fairlane, in great working order. So I guess in a small way, I still do have that first car, at least a small piece of it and a fond memory every time I play those 8 tapes ( the one I am listening to at the moment is by Bob Seger and the Silver Bullet Band). 

Flowers – Pruning & Blooming

I have recently come to the realization that I’m not a very good gardener. When we first moved to Underhill, being very young and having started accumulating kids, we moved into a wonderful old house that once belonged to Gael’s grandparents. Gael’s Grandma Bessie was an amazing gardener and she started her flower beds in the late 1920’s. When we moved in, in 1961, there were well established beds. Unfortunately, I couldn’t remember what flower was what, so I would have to invite Grandma Bessie’s friends over to, once again, tell me the names of the flowers. 

Fast forward a few years and we bought the old farm up the road and eventually built a house there. When we got around to sell our old house, I had to bring some of Grandma Bessie’s flowers with us. It was pretty much a clean slate at the new place, so we dug some beds to put the flowers (temporarily?) in. I moved as many plants as I could. Because there were a number of stones left over from the house, I started a big rock garden. By this time, we started having goats, pigs, ponies, a dog and cat or two. 

My time was limited, but I was young and had grand ideas. I moved phlox, hollyhocks, iris, lilies and probably some flowers that I couldn’t remember the names of. Some did really well and others didn’t. To this day I can’t get a hollyhock to last more than one season. The goats we had were “flying-goats” and could jump over or crawl under any fence we built and 

they loved to eat (prune?) my flowers. It was an ongoing battle for years. They were really fond of the first daffodils that bloomed in the spring. 

But the flower beds did really well considering the fact that I had lots going on and couldn’t tend to them properly. I would read articles about perennial flower beds and the need to separate or divide things. I just didn’t have the time! But the plants bloomed anyway. 

I don’t know why but friends were always bringing me plants and because my flower beds were getting a bit cramped for space, I would stick these gifts wherever I could. I also had a rock problem, I couldn’t dig a hole without uncovering rocks. Everywhere!!! 

There was one summer when oldest daughter worked at a landscape nursery. In the fall, they were going to toss the perennials out, so she brought home all she could fit in her car, not once but many times. Gael tilled up yet another bed to put them all in (temporarily). 

Well, time flies and here we are in 2021. The flower beds are a mess, crowded and diseased. It starts with little green worms on my azaleas. Then. spider mites appear and soon after the powdery mildew. So, I spray everything with whatever I have on hand and hope for the best. Then there are the weather extremes, hot/cold, dry/wet and so on. I’m overwhelmed. It is much easier to mow the lawn, just sit and steer, than to tackle the perennial flower problems. 

Flowers still bloom, sort of, and not everything makes it through the winter, but I can’t do much about it anymore. I just enjoy the flowers and weeds that do bloom, and that’s about all I can do. A gardener like Chris Sears, I’m not. 

1967 Austin Healey 300 Mk III

A love story for the “VAE Books”. 

jane spender & 1967 austin healey BJ8

When John Spencer sent pictures to Wheel Tracks, he was asked about the young lady. 
He replied, “That is the girl I chased with my Healey!” 
The young lady is Jane Spencer.  John purchased this Austin Healey 3000 Mk-lll in 1970 and his plan worked… what a car… what a catch! 

This from John…… 

austin healey 3000

I bought the 1967 Austin Healey BJ8 in August 1970 from a family in Johnson, Vermont to chase a girl. I still have the Healey and the girl. 

I must give credit to Ed Rotax, an original member of the VAE. He had a vast collection of Dodge Bros vehicles. I had bought a 1924 Screen Side delivery truck from him. I drove it to Stowe that year. At the end of the show, he said let us go see this car you keep talking about. I said it is in Johnson. No problem we can go over the notch to Jeffersonville. That we did with my old Dodge Bros with only rear brakes and not too good ones either. 

john spencer - austin healey 3000

The Healey was my only car, and I was still milking cows on our dairy farm. I put snow tires on the rear and fought the snow drifts on my way to Burlington to see the girl, Jane by the way. It never failed me, but it was not the best in the snow. The car survived the many trials of our life including spending the winter outside. The exhaust was always being repaired. The fenders were patched, and the rocker panel replaced. It finally was retired to the shed for 10 years. 

Eight years ago, I figured I would get it going again and pulled the motor and transmission to repair the overdrive. I keep finding things to fix and I ended up going all the way to the frame. It took me six years to complete it with some help from some great people especially Rally Sport in New Haven. I did all the mechanicals and some body work. Others did the upholstery and paint. 

This is a driver as I am driving around Vermont to find other Austin Healeys. Jane and I are also doing the 251 club in the Healey. 

Any sharp-eyed Healey person will look at the picture of my Healey and say it can not be a 1967 because it does not have dual parking lights. But it is by the serial number and other features. I discovered after buying the car, it had been in an accident and the front shroud was replaced by one from an older model. I decided to keep it that way. It is a pleasure to drive and we plan to put some serious miles on it. See you on the road. 

austin healey 3000 front

I am now restoring my 1931 Ford Tudor, which I bought when I was 14. But that is a story for another time. 

There are twelve Austin Healeys listed on our VAE website, under “Member Vehicles”. 

Some listings might be old, we are sure the vehicles still exist, but their owners might have changed. 

We know of two Healeys not included, they belong to VAE members Dave Sargent and Ken Gypson

The Spencers are doing two things with their Healey that we all could adopt as nice adventures. One is to drive their car to the homes of the other VAE Austin Healeys for a friendly visit. What a great idea! 

The second is something other members have done and should be a club-wide challenge. 

That is to join the “251 Club” and visit all the 251 towns in Vermont, with your favorite “Old Vehicle”. 

Shuffle off to Buffalo? No, silly. Your list!

Have you ever noticed how things get lost in the shuffle? 

From the extra sock in the laundry room that hasn’t found its mate, to the health savings card sitting on your desk that needs verification on how much money is left on it, to the pile of stuff at the bottom of the stairs that needs to go upstairs and find their home. Those are just a few of the things in my life that need to be taken care of. Do we call it procrastinating or ignorance, or are we just bored with the vagaries of life? 

Boredom is defined as the state of being bored; tedium; ennui. Ignoring something can be interpreted as refraining from noticing or recognizing. And of course procrastination is defined as deferring action or delaying. 

How would you define those items in your life? I think most people would say any or all of the above would apply at different times. 

So many things have changed in the last 18 months: how we socialize, learn, work, play. And how much time have we had on our hands that we could’ve dealt with our own personal “shuffle” category? But we’ve found creative and energizing ways to fill that time: Zoom meetings, getting outdoors and enjoying nature, taking online cooking classes. Our own personal lists are endless. 

But now with Vermont past the 80% vaccination rate, things are opening up for all of us to come together. We’re celebrating at a hurried clip. The 4th of July just passed and we got out and celebrated like it was the first 4th! Which brings me to our famous car show that is right around the corner. 

I know the committee has been working diligently through Zoom meetings and finally in person to make this a grand reopening of our wonderful VAE. You can’t say they’ve been procrastinating or ignoring the details. So it’s now up to all of us to put the finishing touch on the show by bringing our cars and that neighbor/friend/relative who has never been to the show. How cool would it be to have a record attendance? Pray for good weather so no one can find a reason not to come. 

Do not procrastinate, become bored or ignore things in your life. Look at the rest of this year and beyond as a whole new time to get those socks matched and clear the path up the stairs! 

What’s on your personal shuffle list to finally deal with? 

Life Changes

For as long as I can remember, the previous generation or generations have had changes, that they were very vocal about, said changes not being right or not needed. 

“Things had never been done that way and it makes no sense to change them now”. 

One of the ‘biggies’ was the automobile. Stories have been written about how much chaos they caused with the noise and how they would scare the horses and pedestrians. I am sure there was a learning curve that was or was not followed many times. 

Many changes seem to appeal to the younger set, as a rule. Probably when you are young, everything is thought of as possible and all the fear that goes with change is not there. I, personally, have never cared for change but I have some definite ideas about what ones are good and ones that are not. 

I remember several years ago, schools started changing to “open concept” classrooms. Several grades in one big room, partitioned off with bookcases, student cubbies and movable blackboards. At first, I thought, ‘this is crazy’ only to remember I was in a one room schoolhouse for 1 – 6 grades, one teacher and we did well. Several students went on to Jr High and High school and graduated top of the class. 

Another change was bus pick up. In my time you had to live more than a mile from school to be able to ride the bus. My children had to walk to the main road (about ½ mile) and catch the bus. Now, the bus comes to each house on our street. 

One of the changes I really could not believe, when I first heard, was that cursive writing would no longer be taught in the schools. 

I had kind of forgotten it until recently when I sent my 16-year-old grandson a card. 

I had written him a quite lengthy note enclosed with $20 and he called to thank me (and Grandpa). 

I asked what he thought of what I had written to him and he said ‘have to wait and have my dad read it to me, I can’t read cursive’! 

Now I know this is a bad change, but I am not sure what I can do to change it. I would like to know the reason for the change. Is it because almost no one writes notes anymore? They email, tweet, Facebook, text and other methods that I do not know anything about. I understand that ways of communicating have changed but who would rather receive a tweet than going to your mailbox and finding a note, written in cursive, from a friend, giving you the news in their life. 

I vote we go back to cursive. Or printing and some times called Technical Writing. One vote per person please.

The Auto Technology Program at Cold Hollow Career Center

Meet a few of the folks in the Auto Technology Program at Cold Hollow Career Center in Enosburg Falls: Baxter Weed, pictured 2nd from left, is the instructor in the Auto Technology Program at Cold Hollow Career Center in Enosburg Falls. Pictured with him are four students of the 14 in his junior level class (he has an additional 13 students in his senior class). From the left… Preston Snyder, Baxter, Jacob Hulbert (the winner of the 2021 Golden Wrench Award), Matt Kirkpatrick and Devon Badger. 

Cold Hollow Career Center serves the high schools from Richford and Enosburg in the supervisory district of the five towns of Bakersfield, Montgomery, Berkshire, Richford and Enosburg. This relatively small center, along with Automotive Technology, also has programs in Agricultural Science, Business Leadership, Construction Technology, Digital Media, Diversified Ag, Forestry and a Medical Program. 

The two vehicles pictured here are projects in Baxter’s classes. The “Covid Year” presented lots of challenges for him but his students were able to complete much of the school year’s requirement with remote work at home and modified classes at the center. He created how-to videos for his students to view from home and even sent brake drums to the students homes to be worked on. The can-do atmosphere in his class is really something to witness. 

The 1976 Jeep CJ5 is a long-term project they have had in the program over the past 8 or 9 years. The vehicle was “loaned” to the program by another teacher with the understanding it would take a long time. Baxter says “maybe not this long”. The normal arrangement, when the program works on community vehicles, is for the owner to pay for all material with no charge for labor. 

Baxter says many students have worked on this vehicle over the years, it has been good to have a project like that on hand, that way if a student has time there is always something to do. 

It was in very rough shape when they started, the body was rotten, the engine smoked, there were no brakes, and lots of electrical problems with a ratty interior. The owner grew up learning to drive with this Jeep and was willing to slowly repair it. 

Here is the work/repair list the students have accomplished on the Jeep over the years…….. 

Rebuilt the engine, stripped frame and sent it out for sand-blasting and paint, replaced clutch, new fuel and brake lines, replaced the whole body except the grill shell, hood and windshield frame, customized bumpers, rebuilt the winch, rebuilt the 3-speed transmission and customized the front disc brake setup using Geo Tracker front rotors and calipers. 

The list goes on to adding a custom stereo with subwoofer, LED fog lights, seat upholstery and repair, lots of wiring repair and diagnosis, steering box, 4” lift kit, new soft top and doors. side steps, Holley Sniper EFI system and electric fuel pump, Mojave heater box and wiring, aluminum radiator, drum brake rebuild, front and rear axle reseal and Engine tune-up. 

The shop car is a 2007 Toyota Camry. Baxter needed to have an in-house project during the “Covid Year” where his students could work individually and he said this worked out great. The “project” was to add a turbo to this little 4-cylinder engine and a few things for general appearance. Adding a TURBO must have raised the excitement level for the students, even for those times during remote learning at home! 

Here is the Toyota work list….. 

Installing an Ebay turbocharger kit, added custom turbo piping and intercooler with straight-pipe electric exhaust cutout (donated from former student), front air splitter, modified stock bumper, added fender flares and 18” wheels and tires (donated by instructor (wheels) and a former student (tires). 

They also modified the fuel system, added new seat covers with some interior work, added a tach/gauge cluster and strobe lights, plus the cool rear wing. 

The class hopes to “dyno-test” the Toyota during their next school year to see the results of their turbo project.