Car and bike builders in the Midwest will have a unique opportunity to sit in on metal shaping seminars conducted by Ron Covell and other fabricators during the North East Wisconsin Motorama (www.newmotorama.com) in Green Bay, Wis., April 1-3.
Local metalcrafters Matt Schmeizer of River City Iron Works LLC and Dave Byron of Spence Industries, Inc. will also be on hand at the show to help with the seminars and put on a “Hammer Time for Kids” event.
Covell, of Freedom, Calif., is considered a top professional metalworker. He developed his automotive passion during high school in Los Gatos by building two hot rods. After high school, he enrolled in a collision repair program at San Jose City College. He went on to build racing car and dragster bodies
Ron returned to school in the early ‘70s, studying sculpture. He was very much inspired by the work of Don Potts, who was on his graduate committee, and Michael Cooper, who has become a close personal friend. Ron received a Master’s degree in Sculpture from San Jose State University in 1976.
Since then, Ron has spent much of his career fabricating street rods and custom motorcycles. His work on cars and custom bikes has been featured in countless magazine articles in this country and abroad.
Convinced that other people had an interest in learning the metalworking skills he spent a lifetime developing, Ron held his first metalworking workshop in 1993. It was a success and he started traveling the country and offering workshops on a regular basis. Over 4,000 people have taken his courses.
Ron is known worldwide as “Professor Hammer.” He and his wife Aloma market a line of DVDs. Ron has written magazine columns and technical articles for a variety of magazines.
The accompanying photo shows Ron putting on a workshop at the Eastwood booth at the SEMA Show. Eastwood products are available at discount from Gunner’s Great Garage (www.gunnersgreatgarage.com)
The big day will be January 2, 2016. According to Mary Beth Leopold, that’s when The Automobile Gallery (www.TheAutomobileGallery.org) will open its doors in downtown Green Bay. Leopold is the Executive Director of the new facility, that combines the features of an auto museum, art gallery, events center and executive conference room.
William “Red” Lewis of De Pere, Wis. (a Green Bay suburb) built The Automobile Gallery as an offshoot of his passion for cars. Lewis collected about 60 cars, restored them and set up a foundation to run The Automobile Gallery. His main goal was to showcase automobiles as works of art. He also hopes to share his love of the automobile with those who come to The Automobile Gallery.
Lewis completely renovated a closed up building that had been a state-of-the-art Cadillac dealership in 1958. It is located in downtown Green Bay. The cars displayed inside include many automotive icons including a ’55 Chevy, a Delorean, a split-window Corvette, a Classic Cadillac coupe with a rumble seat and a first-generation Thunderbird two-seater.
As part of his concept, Williams selected a colorful array of finishes for the cars and he displays many with their hoods raised to show what makes them tick. A goal of the gallery is to educate the public about automotive history and car styling. One racing car—a huge dragster worth up to $75,000—is mounted on a wall behind two hot rods. Other cars are raised in the air and appear to be floating against the gallery’s white walls.
To support The Automobile Gallery, admission will be charged to see the cars and the other facilities in the building can be rented for events and meetings. There will also be a guest vehicle program allowing other collectors to show there cars at the gallery during a few months for a fee. Information about all these opportunities will be posted on the Website.
The Automobile Gallery will be open on weekends and Monday afternoons. See the Website for the full details,
I wouldn’t be surprised if TV star Courtney Hansen does show up at my “new” Gunner’s Great Garage building someday. I say this because all the pieces to this project have just been falling into place perfectly. But let’s do the flashback thing to explain what I’m talking about.
A few years ago I heard that Fred and Bob Hansen of Waupaca, Wis., did auto repairs in an old building that had been a Yellowstone Garage. The Yellowstone Trail was an early coast-to-coast highway that ran across the northern part of the United States. Certain garages on the route signed on to be Yellowstone Garages where tourists could stop to get service or repairs.
I wrote an article about the building, which was then called Hansen’s Auto Exchange. Fred and Bob told me that they had some information that it had been a dealership for Oaklands and Oldsmobiles. As a Pontiac enthusiast, I was most interested in the Oakland link. Oakland was the parent make of the Pontiac.
Years past. I retired from Old Cars Weekly and opened Gunner’s Great Garage in Manawa, Wis. It took five years to really get the new business off the ground. My son and I were restoring cars. Last summer, I could tell I needed more help. In July, just before the Iola Car Show, I got invited to an old-fashioned ice cream social at Bob Hansen’s home. He made the ice cream using a hit-and-miss engine. During the party he mentioned that he was looking for a job.
Now, Fred and Bob are both car collectors, in addition to mechanics. But they also so used cars and when that business slowed, they had trouble making money. Since they are both in their 60s, they decided to close their business. By this time they were not selling cars so they took “Auto Exchange” off the name.
Bob Hansen came to work for me right after the Iola Car Show. One day he mentioned that the old garage was up for sale. I had lost a few restoration jobs because only two or three cars fit in Gunner’s Great Garage. I figured that I could get jobs like those if I had a second location. So, I made Fred and Bob an offer on their building. After thinking about it awhile, they took my offer.
I thought that maybe I had jumped the gun on the purchase, because it was important to me that the building had been an Oakland dealership, but I didn’t know that for sure. However, soon after taking possession, I did some research through the Waupaca Historical Society and the Wisconsin Yellowstone Trail Assoc. I found out that a man had purchased the building in 1917 to partner with another man who had Oakland and Oldsmobile franchises. I also found out that the building is pictured in a book about the Yellowstone Trail in Wisconsin.
Soon after buying the building my son and I drove to Las Vegas for the SEMA Show. On the way home, Jesse spent lots of time looking for cars on his Smart Phone so I told him to look for an Oakland for sale. He found a few of them, but one was a 1917 Model 34. It was not too far away and, with a budget stretch, it was in my price range. Luckily, I was able to make the deal.
Before I went to look at the Oakland, I met Courtney Hansen for the second time. She was a celebrity at the Muscle Car and Corvette Nationals in Rosemont, Ill. I told her my story about buying Hansen’s Auto Exchange. She said that she might be coming to a car show in Wisconsin next summer. “Maybe I should come see the garage next summer,” she said. “There might be a family connection there.”
Although I kid Fred and Bob that Courtney is their cousin, they don’t think that’s true. However, Hansen’s Auto Exchange was owned by another set of Hansen brothers (unrelated) before Fred and Bob. Kerm and Ev Hansen had a lot of family connections and one day we have to look up Ev and see if there’s any history there that might tie them to Courtney. As I said at the start, the way the pieces on this puzzle have fallen into place, I wouldn’t be at all surprised.
The other day my friend “Hot Rod” Dave Schneider of Schneider’s Signs in Waupaca showed up at Gunner’s Great Garage with the new signs I have been waiting for.
Dave said he was going in for rotator cuff surgery the next day so he better put the signs up before that. Now, that’s dedication as far as I’m concerned. He’s not only a great artist and a “car guy”-he’s willing to shoulder the burden for his friends, too.
The design of the sign is based on my shop business card and shows my ’36 Pontiac. That’s the collector car I own now that I’ve had the longest and it’s also the car that Brooklin Models of England used as the model for their ’36 Pontiac die-cast. Not bad for an old jalopy, huh?
Now, after I snapped these photos of the new sign I realized the red and black letters on the old signs below are a little redundant. That means they say the same thing, as in “Department of Redundancy Department.” So, I’m looking for all of you guys (and gals, of course) to tell me how I should change the messages on the lower signs.
I was thinking one of the lower signs could show the hours of operation, but what about the other three? Got any brainstorms? If so, send me an email at Gunnellj@TDS.net.
I feel like I should be on the old TV game show “The Price is Right.” Since about April I have been hired to do at least 53 appraisals of all kinds of collector cars.
The need for appraisals has been growing and I’m lucky that I learned a lot about collector car values when I worked at OLD CARS WEEKLY and OLD CARS PRICE GUIDE. Now the stuff I learned is coming in handy.
My appraisals take from a half day to a day to do. First I go to see the car, gather information about it and take photos of it. Then I go home to research the history and value of the car through my sales literature, books, network of friends and the Internet. The end resut is a booklet from 8 to 10 pages long that gives a proper appraisal of what the car is worth in today’s marketplace.
My standard rates are $300 for the first car and $150 for all other cars in the same collection appraised at the same time. If I have to go a long distance I charge travel costs.
I have appraised vehicles from an Electric Car to a dragster, including a $2 million race car. And that’s exactly what that car brought when it sold at an auction.
I do not appraise cars that my shop restores. I do not ask the owners if they want a high or low appraisal. I simply try to evaluate what a car will bring in the marketplace if you put it for sale today.
If you ever need an appraisal you can call me at 1-715-281-5925 or email Gunnellj@TDS.net.