Meet Abi, ACM’s Summer Collections Intern. Currently a Junior in the Automotive Restoration Technology program at McPherson College in Kansas, she’s pursuing a Bachelor’s of Science in Restoration and a minor in Communications. Thanks to a grant from the RPM Foundation, Abi recently completed a 10-week internship with the ACM Collections Team. In this interview, she shares what she learned in her internship, what it’s like growing up in an automotive family and the advice she has for those pursing a career in restoration.
How did you find out about the internship at America’s Car Museum?
Diane Fitzgerald, President of the RPM Foundation, recommended I apply for the position.
What was your favorite part of the internship?
I loved every aspect of my 10-week internship! I created wonderful friendships with the docents, collection team, and ReneÃ¨ and Dale. If I had to pick a favorite part it would be talking with the Museum guests about the vehicles we were working on. I was asked more than once “If I was actually working on the cars, or just for show,” to which I always responded with a good laugh.
Of course, being surrounded by over 100 years of automotive history for eight hours a day was pretty awesome too! I was very fortunate to work under such caring and devoted mentors, Renee (ACM Collections Manager) and Dale (ACM’s Collections Tech). They made me feel like part of the team from day one and I learned so much from this internship.
Take-A-Spins were also a summer highlight! Being able to drive someone in their first antique car ride is something very special to me.
How did you first become interested in vintage vehicles and restoration?
I grew up in Lansing, IL surrounded by an automotive family, always attending car shows and wrenching on project cars. Growing up, my grandpa had a 1958 Cadillac and my father had a 1960 Corvette in pieces in the garage. I was always involved with cars and restoration. My father and I would spend hours in the garage together, him showing me the basics (changing oil, tire rotations, fixing leaks, detailing work). I personally rebuilt the engine on my 1950 Crosley HotShot when I was in high school to performance specs! Oil and grease have pulsed through my veins since birth; I live the automotive enthusiast life.
You’re a collector yourself. Can you tell us about what car(s) you have? What “dream car” would you add to your collection?
My family and I have a total of eight Crosleys, microcars from the 1940’s and 1950’s. I own a yellow 1950 Crosley HotShot Roadster which I have completely rebuilt the engine and transmission in. I am currently the record holder at the Newport Antique Auto Hill Climb for my class (Crosley) and have won in years past. The Hill Climb is held in October each year in Newport, Indiana. I have been attending since I was born, so this upcoming year is #21!
The Museum has some of my dream cars and I was very happy to work on and clean them. If, and when, I able to purchase one of my dream cars, the first two would be the 1933 Duesenberg Model SJ Beverly by the Walter M. Murphy Company built for Powell Crosley or a 1939 Lincoln Zephyr.
What skills and/or experiences will you take back with you from interning at ACM?
I gained skills of evaluating cars and judging the overall condition for display and conservation purposes. A task of mine was to reassess and document the condition of the vehicles, paying close attention to the details. I also gained experience with detailing and cleaning. The Collection Team spent hours with me this summer, teaching me the proper techniques for detailing a vehicle. I learned how to color correct paint, buff and polish, and many more detailing tips and tricks.
What advice do you have for students pursuing a career in automotive restoration?
ASK QUESTIONS! My grandfather used to always say “You can learn something from everyone.” I believe that continuous learning and development are the keys to success. Being able to listen and truly learn from what a person is teaching you is a valuable skill to master.