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In Williamsport, college students learn to restore vintage cars


Pennsylvania College of Technology, the Penn State affiliate in Williamsport, has retooled its automotive technology offerings, providing the only college-level vintage vehicle restoration degree on the East Coast.

Working on vintage cars requires specialized skill sets “and often requires expertise from the era the vehicle was originally produced in,” explains Brett Reasner, dean of PCT’s School of Transportation and Natural Resources Technologies. “Vintage vehicles can be challenging in that there are no parts available. Parts for these vehicles often have to be reproduced by hand.”

The Automotive Restoration Technology major grew out of an elective class that restored a 1965 Mustang convertible owned by the AACA Museum in Hershey and with help from members of the local chapter of the Antique Automobile Club of America (AACA), Susquehannock Region. That restoration won an AACA award and prompted the introduction of the restoration major for the 2013-14 academic year. (This spring, PCT students restored a 1970 Chevrolet Chevelle Super Sport, winning honors at the AACA Charlotte Auto Fair in North Carolina.)

So far, 18 students have completed the program, with some going on to jobs at restoration facilities, museums and automotive action houses.

The curriculum starts with basic painting and structural repairs common to all cars but goes on to include woodworking, upholstery, automotive research, custom machining/fabrication/welding, and antique mechanical and electrical systems. For students wanting to try their way with vintage cars for themselves, they can do so by searching with terms like “sheet metal fabrication near me” and acquire the materials needed.

Students work on cars built between 1900 and 1975 at Penn College labs, which feature a frame straightening area, mechanical repair, nonstructural repair, metal working and three down-draft spray booths for refinishing.

PCT partners with the AACA Museum and other automotive museums to provide student projects.

Source: Brett Reasner, Pennsylvania College of Technology
Writer: Elise Vider

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