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Necessity is the mother of invention

Restorer Jerry Kopecky invented this dashboard rotisserie.

Restorer Jerry Kopecky invented this dashboard rotisserie.

They say that necessity is the mother of invention and there’s no better place than the world of old car restoration to prove that’s true. Take, for example, the conversation I had today with a man who rebuilds British car transmissions. He told me how he makes shims for his projects out of tomato soup cans.

Many tasks involved in auto restoration call for special tools. Back when the cars were new, such tools were listed in the back of each chapter of the shop manual for the car. A dealership could order the tools from Kent-Moore, Inc., or similar companies. But today, those same special tools are “unobtanium.” Unless you are lucky enough to find one in the dusty storage room of an old dealership, you’d better come up with a good alternative.

Restorer Jerry Kopecky focused on Mopar fin cars—particularly Chrysler letter cars. He did quite a few of the early ‘80ds models that had the spaceship-like speedometers. Kopecky would sent the gauges themselves to J C Auto Restorations ( in Lynnwood, Wash. While the gauges were being rebuilt, he would redo the paint and padded dash and other cosmetics.

To work on the dashboards the proper way, Kopecky removed the entire dash from the car. Now, a dashboard just isn’t an item that stores conveniently in a crowded restoration shop. So, he created a dashboard rotisserie in which to mount the dash while he was working on it. The dashboard rotisserie was a rather sophisticated piece of equipment with a holding device, sturdy legs and a set of handy wheels that allowed it to be rolled around the shop. We always thought that Kopecky should have gotten a patent on the dashboard rotisserie so he could make them for other restoration shops. He probably could sell a bunch of them.

Have you invented something for your home restoration shop out of sheer necessity? If so, why not share your good idea with other hobbyists? Send me an email at and tell me about your invention. If it’s a good idea, we’ll put it in a future blog.

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