A little more than two years ago a rusty 1979 Ford short wide truck was rescued from a field and unloaded in the automotive wing of Meridian Technology Center.
“When it came into the shop, it was a mess,” recalled student Cy Newman. “It was pretty much just rusted out metal and a pile of old parts.”
Collision Repair Technology Instructor Steve Young and Automotive Technology Instructors Shelly Smith and David Shields saw something different. Their experience in the industry and an eye for innovation allowed them to look past the rundown vehicle and see a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for their students to create something extraordinary.
Elements of Reality TV at MTC
The trio of instructors realized they had the chance to bring elements of Discovery Channel’s hit, Fast and Loud, a show that chronicles a pair of auto enthusiasts and their restoration of nearly forgotten cars and trucks, from the TV into their classrooms.
Using parts from a variety of vehicles, custom fabricated pieces and a lot of elbow grease, students in the two programs set out to transform a junkyard find into a showroom centerpiece.
Newman, a recent graduate of the Automotive Technology program and now a current student in the Collision Repair Technology program, is one of the few students who has worked on the truck from start to finish.
“The first time I saw that truck I knew that we had a lot of work ahead of us. I really had no idea just how much work it would end up being. It really took all of us working together to get it done. Seeing it completed is huge,” he said, with both a smile and a look of relief on his face.
The classic Ford now gets its power from a 1986 Ford Mustang 302 V8 engine and its balance from a Crown Victoria police interceptor’s front-end suspension and rear differentials.
“It’s literally just a skeleton of what it was. We’ve basically taken this down to its bare bones and then built it back up with a few extra bells and whistles added on,” Young said, describing the scope of the project.
Jalen Hendren, a Collision Repair Technology student who has spent much of his time at Tech applying the skills he’s learning in the program to the project, describes the experience as memorable.
“This is not something that most people get to take on. When I’m out working in a body shop, I probably won’t ever have a customer come in with this type of work. It’s definitely something that’s unique and something that will give me an advantage when I’m applying for a job.”
Young agreed with his student. “With this project students in both programs not only learned the ins-and-outs of the industry, but they also learned a lot about working with others,” he said. “If they’re going to be successful in this industry they’ve got to love this stuff. It’s too much work for them not to.”
From the Classroom to the Community
Final touches have just wrapped up on the truck’s transformation, and instructors have made plans to have it available at community events and car shows throughout the Meridian district, including the Oklahoma State University homecoming parade.
“We really want people to see what’s possible in the automotive and collision repair industry,” Young said. “Projects like this really help bring the excitement to working on cars.”
Young indicated that this project won’t be the only overhaul project that he, Shields and Smith will undertake.
“We’ve just wrapped up the truck; and we’ve already got our eye on an old Chevelle,” he said.
A variety of industry partners helped students transform the truck from a rusty eyesore to a shiny blue beauty. Assistance came from AmericanMuscle.com, city of Perkins, Meridian Technology Center Computer Aided Drafting Program, Custom Autosound Manufacturing Inc., DitchWitch, KICKER, Kwik Wire, Lewis Fabrication LLC, LINE-X, LMC Truck, Max’s Muffler, NAPA Auto Parts, Meridian Technology Center Residential and Commercial Construction Program and Summit Racing.