Although Roger Plowman entered into automotive restoration a little late in life, the Brandon retiree definitely made up for lost time by completing some seriously impressive projects.
The 73-year-old told the Sun on Tuesday that he didn’t get serious about this hobby until the mid-1990s, when he brought a 1963 Ford Falcon convertible back from the brink after spotting it in an auto wrecker yard.
However, a much bigger challenge came in 1998, when Plowman discovered the rotting husk of a 1936 Ford Coupe in a field near Carberry and decided to tow it home.
"Everybody that I knew told me that I was out of my mind because there was nothing left of it," he said. "There was no rear axle on it at all, the hood was missing. It was sitting out in the field and everybody who was a deer hunter would use it for target practice. It was bad."
During the next five years, Plowman went about reviving the Coupe piece by piece, installing a new engine, transmission, body and interior with the help of several fellow gear heads in the Westman car community.
"There were a lot of sleepless nights, wondering where I’m going to find the parts or if I got myself in too deep," he said. "But it all fell together eventually."
Plowman was already mechanically inclined when he started tinkering with classic cars, having served as a power engineer since 1964 for the now-defunct Brandon Mental Health Centre.
Plus, the local resident already possessed a natural curiosity that led him to pursue different hobbies throughout his lifetime, including competitive shooting with the Manitoba Muzzle Loaders.
"I get my fingers in a whole bunch of different things all the time. It just keeps changing," he said. "One day I’m doing woodcarving and the next I’m going fishing. You can’t sit idle all the time."
In that same spirit, Plowman continued to explore automotive restoration throughout the 2000s, transforming a 1969 Dodge Dart and 1948 Chevrolet half-ton truck in his garage.
While the ‘48 Chevy truck provided the opportunity for another top-to-bottom rebuild, similar to the ‘36 Coupe, Plowman managed to complete that project in less than two years, since he had more than a decade of automotive know-how under his belt.
Coupled together with the fact that he had more time to dedicate to his hobby at this point, after officially retiring in 2004, Plowman revealed this project represented the culmination of everything he has learned up until that point.
"When I had the truck, I had to incorporate every one of those ideas that I had seen," he said. "I had to shave the door handles, I put a power vent on the glove compartment door, I put power windows on it … I just kept going crazy on the thing until it was done."
These days, Plowman keeps the ‘36 Coupe in his garage alongside a 1989 Pontiac Sunbird, both of which are currently packed away for the winter.
While the Sunbird isn’t as flashy as some of his other toys, Plowman maintains that the convertible still provides his wife Darlene and him with a luxurious ride, especially in the summertime.
But moving forward, the 73-year-old would still jump at the chance for another project, especially if it involves rebuilding a small truck, like a Chevy S-10 or Ford Ranger, from the 1980s.
But even if that opportunity never materializes, Plowman told the Sun he is content with all the hobbies that he has cultivated during the last seven decades, automotive or otherwise.
"I had so many different interests. It’s been a great life," he said. "I’ve been blessed, really."
» Twitter: @KyleDarbyson