Amid all the gleaming metal at the 2018 KOI Cavalcade of Customs is a sapphire-blue 1947 Lincoln with a showroom shine. It’s hard to believe that three short months ago, it was a rusted-out bucket barely held together with Bondo.
“The fenders were horrible. Most of them were just body fill,” said Austin Meyer, a student in Butler Tech Auto Collision Technology. “We had to fabricate new pieces for them. There was no back bumper or front bumper.”
Meyer speaks with authority in describing how he and his fellow students transformed sheet metal into a showpiece. Surprisingly, the Middletown junior says he had almost no auto body experience when he came to Butler Tech a few months ago. “Coming here is the best decision I’ve made so far,” Meyer said.
The Cavalcade project definitely was a labor of love. “We worked winter break for about eight hours each day just to get it together with 12 to 16 students who came in on their own time,” said instructor Fred Hurt. “It’s a pride builder. This is not building a hot rod or a street rod, it’s building pride. These students need to be recognized for what they can do.”
In some cases, students from other programs even pitched in to custom-build the needed parts. “Some of the doors didn’t even have the handles – the buttons that push them out – so Precision Machining made those door handles for us,” Meyer said.
“Fabrication is a lost art in this business,” said Hurt, who has more than 40 years of experience in the industry. “These guys are getting training that they will not get at any other school.”
With a lost art also comes career potential, which Hurt describes as unlimited. “Students who have been out five or six years now are making $80,000 to $100,000 a year. The potential is there if you hustle and work hard.”
Students interested in Butler Tech Auto Collision Technology, or any of the high school programs, can apply during their sophomore year.
The KOI Cavalcade of Customs runs January 5 – 7, 2018, at the Duke Energy Convention Center in Downtown Cincinnati.