1962 Chevy Bel Air Wagon - Wish Come True

Selfless Contributions Saved This '62 Bel Air Wagon

Barry Kluczyk Apr 1, 2003 0 Comment(s)
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In 1994, young Victor Ramey and his father, Phillip, purchased a decrepit old '62 Bel Air station wagon. As with most projects, the intention was to restore the old Chevy and sprinkle it with a little hot rodding magic.

However, unlike most restos, which get delayed by a lack time or a loss in interest, the Rameys were first stymied by Phillip's heart attack. And though he recovered, the family was thrown another medical curveball-prior to his 18th birthday, Victor was diagnosed with Hodgkins Lymphoma. A lymph-attacking cancer that can spread to organs throughout the body, Hodgkins Lymphoma is a life-threatening disease. And it's the reason the Make-A-Wish Foundation got involved in the project.

A non-profit organization that grants wishes to children with life-threatening illnesses, the Make-A-Wish Foundatin of Greater Ohio, as well as the Kentucky chapter, took on Victor's desire to see the '62 wagon restored. Problem was, the Make-A-Wish folks never restored a car before and didn't know where to turn for assistance.

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Dale Schaller, a Make-A-Wish rep from the Youngstown, Ohio, area became the project's champion. A guy with an interest in cars, but no experience in building them, Schaller reached out and found Bill Conklin, owner of Pro Car Race Shop in Columbiana, Ohio, and Joe Brenneman, a soon-to-be retired employee at GM's Lordstown Assembly Plant.

Although dozens of others contributed to the car's restoration, it was these three men who lived with the Chevy during its eight-month transformation. According to Conklin, restoring the '62 in eight months didn't seem possible when the project began: "To be honest, it wouldn't even have made a good parts car," Conklin says of the wagon. "Every major body panel had to be replaced-the doors, quarters, front fenders. Even the roof was bad."

"You Name It""
Conklin, who's worked on cars for 30 years and briefly on Don Garlits' race team, says he went through three rolls of MIG wire and two tanks of gas for the bodywork's welding needs. Workspace for the project was donated by Mahoning County Career and Technical Center.

"Bondo, fiberglass, lead, brass-you name it, it was in there," Conklin says of the car's rough body. "And where there wasn't a patched panel, there was nothing. The space was rotted away."

As work progressed, local enthusiast John Pavlov, a Lordstown employee who also runs a resto parts business for vintage Bow-Ties, was able to provide some of the wagon's rare trim pieces. Other restoration parts were generously donated by Year One. In fact, at the vehicle's presentation ceremony Year One generously presented the Make-A-Wish Foundation with a financial donation that will help fund future wishes.

With the sheetmetal just about straight, the team realized it would have to be painted. Luckily, Harvey Kulkin, from Sherwin Williams' nearby headquarters in Cleveland, read about the project in a local paper. He was authorized to donate the paint, while another Sherwin Williams employee, Marc Holbury, agreed to spray it.

A special color called "Make-A-Wish Blue" was mixed with Sherwan Williams' Helicon color-shifting paint. The spiral pattern of the pigment not only creates a deep hue but adds more depth and subtlety when viewing the color's shade changes. Also, the color-shifting flakes in the paint are larger, which creates different tones compared to other color-shifting paints.

All told, Holbury went around the car 36 times with the spray gun, laying down primer, basecoats, color, and clear. Sherwin Williams permitted the car to be painted at its headquarters, even giving Holbury time on the clock to finish the job.

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