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Restoration program students show off restored vehicle at Detroit Autorama

Posted at 5:11 PM, Mar 02, 2024

(WXYZ) — Car lovers, rejoice! Over 850 cars are on display at the 71st annual Detroit Autorama. Every vehicle you see on Huntington Place's show floor has a unique history, including a 2004 GMC Canyon that has been restored by six students at the Oakland Schools Technical Campuses.

Joshua Flanders, 18, Kirby Delacruz, 17, and 17-year-old Carter Krugman are three of the students.

"There was dents and scratches and everything to go through, sand that and use glaze and body fillers to get our smooth surface to paint," said Flanders.

"I showed pictures of the truck to my mom and dad, and they were proud of me, 'cause I'm the first in my family to do this type of work," said Delacruz.

"How hard was it to get something like this done?" I asked.

"Not really that difficult; most of it was tedious," said Krugman.

But they all loved doing the paint job, which was Jerry Weston's idea. He's their instructor.

"It's a hyper-shift pearl. And I figured if we are going to go to Autorama, up against stuff like this, it had to be something like that. You may see something with a slight pearl. But this is crazy. When you walk by, it changes as you go," said Weston.

The condition of the vehicle when it first arrived wasn't the greatest.

"It was bad; it was almost like a barn fire. When we got it, it was covered in dust. We dent on both fenders. The quarter panels were smashed, we had creases down on the side of the trucks, and we had students jump in and fix all of that," said Weston.

Richard Polk donated the truck to the southeast campus.

"When you saw what the kids did with the truck, what was your reaction?" I asked.

"I was overwhelmed," said Polk.

The truck belonged to Polk's brother, Jonathan, who passed away in 2020. When Jonathan was alive, he occasionally took the truck to the school for certain repairs. So, Richard figured donating the vehicle was the best way to honor his brother's memory.

"If my brother were alive today, he would have been speechless. It's a real legacy to him," said Polk.

Meanwhile, Weston says vehicle donations are vital to running the collision repair finishing program.

"It's a unique program. I am giving them a fender right away. So we have a work-based learning program where they come to class one day a week to turn in their timesheets, but Monday to Thursday, they will go to work, and they can make money, and they can keep that," said Weston.

To learn more about the Oakland Schools Technical Campuses, visit www.ostconline.com.

To learn more about Autorama, visit www.autorama.com.