I grew up in Ballietsville, down the road from me there was a man that had a field of antique cars. His name was Layton Faust, (Frankie Kemmerers father-in-law) we all called him Pappy Faust. I used to sit in the cars and pretend to be driving somewhere. Pappy took a liking to me and he would tell me all about the different makes, names I never heard of Moon, Chandler, Marquette, Welch, etc. This was the start of my sickness, which continues to this day.
I have owned over 100 + antique cars, many which I brought back to life, and a lot I totally restored. I learned very early on that I could not afford to buy these cars done, or pay somebody to repair, or restore them for me. I would hang around shops and try to pickup knowledge. Danny Raebenold in Scheidys taught me how to rebuild automatic transmissions, I would watch Butch Kumernitsky at Ironton Auto Body do body repair. Plus many other shops that I would hang around and be a pain. Some of my early projects were 50 footers, they looked good from far, and far from good. But with each one I got better. I have restored cars that should have gone to the crusher.
I had hung around with Lehman Silliman, he was by far the person that really put the antique car bug in me. We used to trade cars back and forth. I would buy one fix it, and then trade it for something more valuable. One day we were opening truck bodies looking for a 1938 Pontiac coupe, and I spotted a Nash Metropolitan coupe in one of the truck bodies. I told Lee I wanted it, and he said let it alone it is junk, but I insisted. He told me that it was a definite rust bucket and not worth the time or effort. I asked how much, and he said “I think I gave $350.00 for it”. I said Ill take it, and he asked” what are you going to do with it?” I said “I’m going to restore it”. This was September and I told him, I will have it done by Spring. He said if you have done by Spring I’ll give back your money. Was I in for a big surprise when I opened the door to steer it out of the truck body. The door fell off, nothing left of the pillar post. It was bad. I knew of 2 other Mets in Effort, Pa. at a Chrysler dealer, and was able to buy the pair of them for $200.00, and one was a convertible. They belonged to a husband, and wife, and had traded them in for a new Chrysler. The dealer was going to fix them up and resell them, but it never happened. My wife refused to let me put it in the garage till I cleaned out all the racoon crap from inside of it, steam cleaned, disinfected, and deodorized it. It was worse than I thought. When I opened the passenger side door it too fell off. I had many burns from welding the frame laying on my back, and as always that hot spark always finds a way under your shirt onto bare skin.
I restored the Met and even made it a convertible. It would have been much easier to fix the convertible I got from the Chrysler dealer. Sadly Lee died one week before I finished it.
My wife loved the car, and we drove it everywhere. As always somebody throws a large amount of money in my face, and the car gets a new owner. My wife was not happy!
This brings me to my present project. While scrolling thru Facebook Marketplace, I find a pair of Mets, one convertible, and a coupe both 1958’s. The convertible has been media blasted, and primed with all new floor and rockers installed. The engine and trans have been professionally rebuilt. The bumpers, and guards have been rechromed, and came with a complete parts car all for $3500.00. How can I go wrong? All the hard work was done. My brother and I went to see them down in Chalfont, Pa. These were a father and son project that had stalled when the son moved to California, and the father was selling his home and they wanted to get rid of them. There were boxes and boxes of parts all over the garage, a lot of new parts in the boxes. Right then I said I’ll take them.
A week late we went back with the trailer and loaded them up. I was eager to get started I got the convertible in my garage and that is when I started to notice things that I had missed on my prior inspection. He replaced the center of the grille with the one from the coupe, because it had a large dent below the bumper line. WRONG!!! Mets are unibody and the entire front end is welded together. It would have been easier to hammer out the dent. Then I noticed the top of the fenders near the windshield looks funny. You guessed it, rotted and filled with fiberglass resin mixed with sawdust. This is a first for me, never saw this trick before. Then the windshield frame looked rough, again fiberglass resin and sawdust. That was only the beginning. The rear of the car below the bumper was nothing but plain fiberglass resin, about 2 gallons of it.
Now the work begins, Remove the front end as a unit from the parts car, by drilling out the spot welds on the door pillar post, but wait he already cut the grille out, So I had to put the center grille assembly back onto the front end, and weld it back into place, and the drill the spot welds to remove the entire front end. Now I am in shock as I remove the front fender assembly, it is loaded with spray house insulation! At this point I found more fiberglass on the inner fender. After and entire 2 weeks of fabricating metal and welding, I can finally put the tig welder to bed. Next step, rebuild the front suspension, and brakes. The paint all the parts and inner fenders. Spray undercoating, and now install the front fenders. I think I am over the hump. WRONG!!
I noticed the where the new rockers met the pillar post seemed to have a lot of bondo, After digging out the bondo, I am cursing like a drunken sailor. The rockers are glued on, not welded, and where they meet the pillar post is all rot and filled with bondo, At this point I am going to hang the doors and check the gaps. Somebody shoot me! There is a 3⁄4 inch gap ate the rear of the doors. When they welded the new floors in the car was on jack stands, and of course they were not smart enough to weld bracing on the door gaps before cutting out the old floors. Now I have to make brackets and weld them to the body and using a pull back ram, suck the body back together. All the metal work is done, and body alignment is good. The car is now at the body shop for paint. I should have bought a restored Met!