In 2003 I found myself always wondering how a car was painted. With as much as I knew about cars, I was intimidated about automotive paint. I had heard that WCC (Washtenaw Community College) offered classes on the topic. I looked up the program online, figured out how I would pay for it, and signed up for classes as I was finishing up my Bachelors at Eastern Michigan University. It was a crazy time of my life. I was training on a collegiate sports program 20 hours a week, taking 17 credit hours at EMU and another 4 credit hours at WCC. I can’t believe I got it all done.
At WCC I learned how to do bodywork (shaping and repairing metal) as well as refinishing body panels and cars (painting). We started on piece of sheet metal and moved to surplus fenders from GM and Ford. The first car piece I ever painted was an S-10 Fender from a 4×4 model. I worked so quickly and with such precision, the teacher, Gary, knew I was among the top students he had seen, he made that fact known to me within the first week. Once he saw me behind a paint gun and heard about my detailing business, the bigger projects were headed my way. My time at WCC culminated with preparing a $100,000 dollar car for the 2003 Autorama show at Cobo Hall in Detroit, MI. The car was the first import to be nominated for the Riddler award. I wasn’t a fan of the project, but I was proud to be part of a successful build.
Upon completion of the program at WCC, I was offered a position at the college to head up their new Custom Cars program. It would begin with the then-new 2005 Dodge Magnum overhaul and would be followed by the 2005 Ford GT overhaul. For a car guy, it was a tempting offer. It didn’t take me long to pass on it though. I had other plans which didn’t involve cars as an income source.
WCC was amazing. Working on custom cars and learning what goes into that level of workmanship is an experience I’ll never forget.