Josh Fear, 20, a classic-car repairman from Howell, Mich., on his 1970 Ford F-100, as told to A.J. Baime.
A lot of people think it’s funny that a person my age would spend so much time working on cars that were made years before I was born. I spend a lot of time with people a lot older than me. I like it that way.
Growing up in Michigan, it seemed like everyone I knew—every family—was somehow connected to the auto industry. My dad was into classic cars. Most of my uncles were into classic cars. In the summer of 2013, when I was 13, I spent a lot of time helping my grandpa. He had this 1949 Chevrolet Styleline sitting behind his house that I had always loved. So in exchange for the work, he gave me that car. It hadn‘t run since the early sixties. I still have it. The body is off, and I am taking my time with it.
Photos: Wanna Feel Old?
That same year, I was on Craigslist looking at old trucks when an ad for this 1970 Ford came up, for $700. I was instantly attracted to the body. Those trucks did not always hold up so well in Michigan because of rust, so you do not see them often here. To me it looked unique, and green has always been one of my favorite colors on cars. We called the guy who owned it; he was in New Mexico. I had half the money and I sold a minibike for the other half. We got the truck in December of 2013.
I spent a lot of time with my dad working on it. It had the wrong engine in it, so we found a 302 cubic inch V-8 like the one that it should have had. I spent a lot of time rebuilding that engine. The interior of the truck was in good shape, but the seats needed reupholstering. By the end of the summer in 2014, I had that truck moving and stopping. I could drive around our yard. I was still a long way away from getting my driver’s license.
I am really into NOS stuff, which means new old stock. That means things that would have been purchased for a vehicle when it was new or a few years old, that were never used. For example, for my Ford, I bought a Radio Shack CB radio from 1977, and an 8-track cassette player from 1975. I have a couple carrying cases of 8-tracks. I found a bumper sticker from 1976 celebrating the country’s bicentennial.
Later, I bought a 1953 Oldsmobile Super 88 and I joined the vintage Motor City Rockets Oldsmobile club. While I was working on that car, I would drive my Ford truck to Oldsmobile events and the guys would laugh and say I was their token Ford guy. I am still working on that Oldsmobile. The Ford truck is the one vehicle that I have put enough time into that I can really drive and enjoy. I drive it regularly in the summertime.
One day an Oldsmobile club member asked me if I would help him fix the power windows on his convertible. I said sure. Then someone else said, “Hey can you fix this?” I said, “Yeah, I can.” I have been working so long on my 1949 Chevy, I applied and was accepted to be the technical advisor for 1949 and 1950 Chevrolets for the Vintage Chevrolet Club of America.
I never imagined that I could actually work on vintage cars for a job in the future, but now that seems realistic to me. I have also made a lot of great friends. In almost all the conversations I have about cars, I am the youngest person there. I guess that’s just the way it goes.
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