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Friday, 15 June 2018 15:37

NE Auto Students Learn Valuable Lessons from Student-Built Car

Brandon McElwee, Mid-Plains Community College auto body student, paints a 1932 Ford roadster. The roadster will be raffled this summer to raise money for scholarships for students in the college’s transportation programs. Brandon McElwee, Mid-Plains Community College auto body student, paints a 1932 Ford roadster. The roadster will be raffled this summer to raise money for scholarships for students in the college’s transportation programs.

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The 1932 Ford roadster being raffled by Mid-Plains Community College in North Platte, NE, may be a switch from projects of previous years, but the experience it provided was just as valuable.

The roadster is the result of a partnership with Lincoln-based Speedway Motors. Students in MPCC’s classic car restoration, automotive technology and auto body technology programs built the vehicle from the ground up.


“The partnership with Speedway has been a wonderful experience,” said Bryan Herrick, MPCC’s first-year automotive technology instructor. “We built the car from scratch using mainly Speedway parts. Ninety-five percent of the project came straight from the Speedway catalog. The remaining 5 percent involved our construction of the interior.” 


It’s the first time MPCC has undertaken such a project. For the past 13 years, the students have restored and modified classic cars. They learned about older technology and current design and found ways to merge the two. Many of those processes also applied to building the new car.


Automotive tech students were charged with building a new chassis, creating electrical systems and designing and building a new drivetrain. Auto body students were tasked with fitting the various body components together, painting the exterior and interior surfaces and designing and constructing the seats and upholstery.


“There wasn’t a book of step-by-step instructions,” said Don Wilson, MPCC auto body instructor. “Our students had to learn each process before they could make the various systems work properly and look amazing.”


The goal was to create a car that anyone could drive.


The Roadster’s drivetrain consists of a 327 GM small block engine with three two-barrel carburetors coupled to a Turbo 350 automatic transmission and a Ford 9” rear end. Four-wheel disc brakes with Rocket racing wheels were also added. The entire car is either painted, chromed, stainless or fabric.

 

“It turned out amazing,” said Brandon McElwee, auto body student. “To see it come together from start to finish was unbelievable.”


He and fellow student Charlie Martin worked side-by-side on the roadster, designing and fabricating pieces such as hood brackets and trunk mounts before painting the entire vehicle.


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