Having a unique car is part of the drive behind his passion
For Terry Jesse, the owner of the Primrose Trout Farm, rebuilding cars is about more than spending some time working on a classic, it’s about rebuilding something from the bottom up and making it into something unique, that no-one else would have.
“We both had an interest in cars and wanted to do something together in our off-season,” said Mr. Jesse. “When it’s all done, it feels real great to have something that nobody else does. The paint job, the handiwork, even the lights are unique. We make it custom to what we want and no one else has a car just like ours.”
Since 1992, Mr. Jesse and his son have rebuilt six cars together, including a 1957 Cadillac, 1959 Cadillac and a 1950 Mercury Pick-Up. Between all of them, they have put in more than five-thousand hours’ worth of work, all of it done by hand.
“We don’t use any fancy new machinery, the only new stuff we have in our garage are the welders,” Mr. Jesse said. “It’s more interesting doing that then just restoring a car, because you have to make everything by hand. We could go out and buy some of the parts pre-made, but it’s more rewarding doing it all by hand.”
Mr. Jesse used to rebuild cars as a teenager, and found that it was something he really enjoyed. So when his son wanted to start working on cars together, it seemed like a step in the right direction.
“Once you start doing it, it gets in your blood,” he said. “There’s just something about working on it and bringing it back to life that gives you this big feeling of satisfaction.”
They spend most of their winters working on the cars in a small barn behind their house. The space is tight and makes it hard to move around, but that hasn’t stopped them from taking cars that everyone else had written off (figuratively, of course) and turning them into something incredible, something that looks more like a streamline butterfly and less like a rusting piece of metal.
According to Mr. Jesse, the 1950 Mercury took about three years to finish, which was the longest running project out of all the cars they restored. When they first purchased it from a wrecking yard, they were met with disbelief that it could ever be something more.
“The man we bought it off thought we were nuts for wanting to rebuild it,” he said. “He didn’t think we could do anything with it. But we did, and it looks great.”
He added that one of the things he finds to be a big disappointment is how few younger people are interested in restoring and rebuilding classic cars nowadays.
“They’re all so interested in their phones and computers, but they miss out on the things that could really give them satisfaction,” he said. “I’d love to see more young people developing an interest – not just in driving the cars from the 80s and 90s, but in restoring and rebuilding older cars too.”
Currently, they are working together to restore a 1946 Cadillac.
“We’ve already put over a year of work into it,” said Mr. Jesse. “We figure we’ve got at least another year and a half to go. Just like the ’57, this one is going to be completely unique. We’re making custom changes, and it’s going to be unlike any other one out there.”
Written by Tabitha Wells