The MuscleCar Place Podcast – Episode #87 – Get a 4-Year Degree in Auto Restoration from McPherson College!

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Feature Segment

McPherson students - in the classroom!

This week’s podcast show guest is Brian Martin from McPherson College in McPherson, KS. It’s a private liberal arts college and was introduced to me by a former podcast show guest (and alum) Jonathan Klinger from Hagerty Insurance. When a lot of us went to college and chose a major we did so based on a “realistic” choice. I majored in Mechanical Engineering because: 1) my dad was an engineer, and 2) I liked cars. Truth be told, had there been an option to major in race car driving or auto restoration I probably would have gone that route, but that would be “unrealistic,” right?  Wrong! It turns out that McPherson College has put together an automotive restoration program, and yes Virginia, it’s a 4-year accredited degree! Even better, it’s supported by major players in the automotive restoration world and celebrities like Jay Leno.

The Automotive Restoration Technology Program at McPherson College was originally created in 1976 through the generosity of local entrepreneur Gaines H. “Smokey” Billue. He donated dollars and cars to get the program running, mainly because he didn’t want a generation of people who couldn’t work on cars with lead in the bodies and babbitt bearings in the engine. It was initially a 2-year degree, and became a full 4-year degree just a few years ago. In 1997 Jay Leno became involved and established the Fred J. Duesenberg Scholarship to provide financial assistance for automotive restoration students. One year later, Leno combined forces with Popular Mechanics magazine to provide a full scholarship each year for a sophomore restoration student. Those of you who are Conan O’Brien fans may want to give Leno another shot!

Leno and his Roadmaster.

At one point in the program it was fledgling with just a handful of students, but today it has over 100 and is soaring! Better yet, for those of you that would like to come to “summer school” and devote a week to learning a restoration skill you’ve always wanted, that option is available. You can even sleep in the dorms and eat real college food!

Thanks for the interview, Brian, and I look forward to seeing the program grow. For a lot of people, this in an education dream come true!

-Robert Kibbe | Muscle Cars for Sale

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