About 40 students from Waupaca High School in Waupaca, Wis., became involved in the restoration of a 1967 Camaro at the school’s automotive shop. This project grew out of the Goal Based Education program that originally had students building a house. Auto Shop instructor Bill Kroseberg thought that building a sleek muscle car might be more exciting than building a boxy house, so with help of local car dealer Tim Neuville, a 1967 Camaro was purchased for the youth-oriented project.
Initially, the muscle car looked very nice. It had a coat of newer white paint and silver blue accents and stripes, but the car’s beauty was only skin deep. As the class began to peel apart the car, they found many rusty body panels. Those parts were removed and piled up outside the auto shop. The pile included the floor pan, hood, trunk lid and more. Eventually, the students replaced “every body panel on the Camaro,” Kroseberg said.
The car’s true condition was depressing, but the teacher looked at the bright side. First, the students were going to learn a lot more than was first anticipated. Second, since the car wasn’t perfect or “numbers matching,” the students could make improvements and updates. In other words, the car would be better than new when it was completed, and the students would learn about the latest new products and technologies.
The muscle car restoration was set up as a two-year project with students working on the car one semester at a time. The project was not a required course, but students could get involved as many semesters as they wanted. Some worked on the car since the program started; others for only a semester. Greg Nyen, the superintendent of the Waupaca school system, happened to be a car enthusiast and was likewise excited about the muscle car project.
Student Judson Nickel was raised on a farm and learned welding as a boy, and he did a lot of the welding. Some students were into cars more than others. Brittney Van Dyke came from a family that collected cars, so she dug into sanding and body work with enthusiasm. Others who worked on the car included Mason Winter, Joseph Landvatter, Ryan Kocovsky, Josh Peglow, Isaiah Wentzel, Neil Perket and Tegon Noltner.
The class was designed as a two-hour block, which gave the students 90 minutes of time in the shop. A short lecture started things off and the rest was hands-on training. When three of the students struggled with installing a hinge pin on the passenger door, Kroseberg brought them back into the lecture room to watch a video on the topic.
Kroseberg said that new parts for the Camaro were purchased from National Parts Depot (www.nationalparts.com) and Classic Industries (www.classicindustries.com). A disc brake conversion kit came from The Right stuff Detailing (www.getdiscbrakes.com). No parts were donated to the school, but Coker Tire (www.Coker.com) gave a discount on tires, rims and wheel center caps. Automotive Supply in Waupaca helped with local parts.
The students repaired the main body shell. Many new panels were welded in and the seams and panel fits came next. The doors were re-hung using new hinge pins. A 350-cid V-8 was mounted in the chassis and ready to go once pulley alignment was worked out. The transmission was installed and steering gear adjustments were made. Kroseberg said that, as the project moved along, the students did more each week. They were taught how to work in a team environment and no single student focused on a particular job. Instead, every task involved two or more students solving problems together.
Kroseberg suggested that schools dropping automotive classes should check out Goal Based Education options. He learned that restoring a car such as the Camaro was something young people could really get into.
“There’s a lot to be learned working on a car, from simple mechanics all the way up to advanced concepts,” he noted.
When the muscle car was completed, it was displayed at the Iola Car Show. Kroseberg also planned to enter it in local car shows and parades to show the residents of Waupaca the job the students completed through the Goal Based Education program.
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