Wyatt Matthews believes they don’t make cars like they used to.
“Nothing here is plastic; it’s all steel,” Matthews said as he admired a 1919 Ford Model T with a 1953 Buick engine. “They look cleaner. The body lines look nice.”
Matthews isn’t a retiree or aging baby boomer. He’s a senior at Tomah High School who appreciated the nine vehicles that were brought to the auto shop Friday by the Wizards of Rods, a local group that sponsors classic car shows.
The classic car bodies also appealed to senior Blake Harp.
“I like that they’re all metal,” Harp said. “They’re harder to dent.”
THS auto shop teacher Ted Schultz welcomed the chance to bring in cars manufactured decades before his students were born.
“They’re very, very interested,” Schultz said of his students. “Most of them are talking to someone who owns a vehicle.”
Motor vehicles have changed considerably during the 39 years that Wizards of Rods member Loren Schleusener has restored and maintained classic vehicles. He was impressed by what students are learning at the high school but also encourages youth to take an interest in the older technology.
“Our club wants to keep the youth interested in the hobby,” Schleusener said. “The one thing the kids have here that we didn’t is the internet. They go online and find so much stuff.”
Parts are increasingly difficult to find for classic vehicles, but THS technical education teacher Matthew Olson said young mechanics can be resourceful. He believes that will sustain classic vehicles for generations.
“You can’t just go into an auto parts store and buy many of these parts anymore,” Olson said. “But if they have the right mentality, they can make their own parts.”
Matthews has worked on passenger vehicles with carburetors. He and his father recently fixed a 1982 Jeep “with a blown gasket, so we had to take it apart.”
That doesn’t surprise Schultz, who said classic car engines aren’t totally foreign to students. Even though cars and trucks have evolved from carburetors to fuel injection, most small engines are still constructed with carburetors.
“These are larger versions of what they see in our small engine class,” Schultz said. “They’re just on a larger scale.”
Tomah Journal editor
Steve Rundio can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.