While most high school students only receive a cap and gown for their grad ceremony, Murray Davies made sure that each of his children got to drive a classic muscle car to pick up their diploma.
The 58-year-old Virden resident recently told the Sun that he has been fixing up old vehicles since he was a teenager, citing his father and two brothers as major influences.
"Dad was into old cars. He started out with a 1952 Pontiac," he said on June 19. "My two older brothers both had Firebirds and one had a GTO, and they were always working on them, and that got me into it, I guess."
Years later, Davies thought it was important to go through this same process with his own children. This is why he started rebuilding a broken down 1971 Chevrolet Camaro with his son Brock when he was in Grade 8, hoping to get it in working order by the time high school graduation rolled around.
Even though, at that point, Davies was no amateur when it came revitalizing classic muscle cars, this was the first time he stepped away from the purely mechanical side of things and sunk his teeth into some serious body work.
"Putting motors in and out is just grunt work and requires a little bit of knowledge," he said. "But with body work … to make it look nice it takes a lot of patience."
While Davies did most of the heavy lifting, this build also proved to be an educational experience for Brock, who provided an extra pair of hands throughout.
"I was actually taking power mechanics in school and I stopped taking it just because I was learning more from dad, like the electrical and the body work and the motor stuff," he said. "It’s just taken off from there."
Brock eventually got to feature the completed Camaro in the grand march of Virden Collegiate Institute’s 2007 grad ceremony, which would prove to be the first of two other collaborations between Davies and his children.
After spending some more time in the garage, Davies’ son Jared got to drive a 1967 Camaro to pick up his diploma in 2009, whereas his daughter JaysaLee’s chariot of choice in 2012 was a 1968 Pontiac Firebird.
Throughout that stretch, Brock witnessed his father’s automotive skills improve with every new project, even though he had to scramble and pull a couple of all-nighters here and there.
"As he did the next one and the next one, everything started to get easier," he said. "He knew more people to help out, so that was cool to see that happen."
Since then, Davies’ knowledge of classic cars has expanded even further, having recently put together a custom 1968 Firebird drag car that is capable of harnessing 950 horsepower.
Even though his latest build, a 2010 Camaro race car, is far removed from his high school grad projects of the past, Davies still remembers those times fondly and encourages any Westman gear head to indulge in similar experiences with their family.
"Be patient and enjoy the process," he said. "Anything you can share with your kids is great. That’s a good way to bind the family together."
» Twitter: @KyleDarbyson
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