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I started with old cars, because I had a great interest in 50's music growing up. When I got my license, I naturally wanted a 57 Chevy. Since I had to drive to college, my parents bought me a 57 I found locally, a convertible, no less! It was a mess, and I had to quickly learn how to fix things to keep it running.
I did so by hanging around with some older guys at the local cruise strip in Linden, NJ, Wood Ave. The leader of the local 55-7 Chevy owners was Jimmy Catrone. He taught me so much about mechanics, and helped me keep the converible running for the first 2 years of school. He even taught me the basics of bodywork and we even painted it! It was still an unrealiable car, so he and I found another 57, a hardtop, and we built it up with most of the things that could break, replaced. I set about rebuilding the convertible, at my leisure.
Jim and I built and painted quite a few cars for friends, and eventually formed a car club, the BelAirs, which lasted for many years.
I finished building my convertible, to a very high degree of detail, with some help. I had Bontempo Brothers build me a killer roller cammed 302 motor, with a Muncie 4 speed, and a narrowed 12 bolt rear, with 4.88's. It was a REAL fast street car, but was stolen out of Raceway Park one summer, about a year after completing. It really broke my heart.
But my BelAir friends helped out by donating a 55 hardtop for me to fix up. I did a couple more old Chevies, but was getting tired of the same looks and same fomula for building a car.
Once I decided I wanted to do this "car thing" seriously, I needed to learn more, esp. about bodywork and paint. So I asked around "who was the best bodyman and painter in our area" and most pointed to S & J Auto Styling, and a guy named John Pazsik. I approached John and offered to work for him for free, if he taught me how to do things right.
Well that began a long apprenticship with John, and a love affair with custom cars. John had a 54 Merc that he built in the 50's and won just about every award possible in the car show circuit. He was still building customs, even when customs had been long forgotten. He taught me a lot, but eventually I had to get a "real job", and John eventually went out of business, and retired.
So off I was, on my own.