Above: Students left to right Alex S., Taylor M., Bryan W. and Noah M.

From Rust to Radiant: Students Revive 1956 Beetle in Classic Car Restoration

FRIDAY, FEB. 16, 2024


hen Richard Ernst discovered an old car’s frame abandoned in a Waterloo field, he saw an opportunity. Following the success of last year’s classic car restoration, Transportation Technology teacher Mr. Ernst disassembled and hauled a 1956 Volkswagen Beetle out from the fence row and into his auto classroom at Simcoe Composite School, where students are transforming the vehicle into something sparkling and new. 

Above: The original engine during disassembly.

After sitting idle for more than 40 years, the car was in need of a complete overhaul. Students carefully examined the state of the rusting chassis intending to preserve as many of the original parts as possible. The first order of business was a thorough clean, followed by a fresh coat of paint. One student shared, “It was nice to finally work in the auto shop with clean hands, but we had to be careful not to scratch the new paint.”

Now, it’s time to rebuild. Students are practicing a number of techniques that will eventually bring the car back to mint condition, like flaring the brake lines and bending them into the vehicle’s factory locations and learning how to use a MIG (metal inert gas) welder to attach the floors to its original frame. 

Above: The original rebuilt engine.

“It was nice to work as a team to take something that was rusty, and what we thought was not fixable, and turn it into a show car,” said Bryan W. and Alex S.

Bryan and Alex will join the rest of their fellow classmates at Toronto’s Motorama Custom Car and Motorsports Expoin March 2024, where the car will be displayed as a work in progress. 

Experiential learning projects like auto restoration nurture curiosity and provide unique learning opportunities for each student to succeed. To learn more about Grand Erie’s diverse secondary programs, including Specialist High Skills Major and co-operative education, click here.

Above: The original chassis then (left) and now (right).


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