Last Saturday, even though the weather was a little suspect, the turnout for the Restoration Clinic --- through the Automotive Surfaces Institute at MAAP, resulted in all of the available slots being filled up. The weather was quite brisk, which made for a wonderful run up Route 33, carving up some curves and going over the Blue Ridge Mountains. Even though the forecast was calling for 8" of snow, oddly enough, the sun was shining as we descended into the Valley.

Once at MAAP, the 1st order of business was to order a delicious Pumpkin Spice cappuccino, to warm me up. Totally unexpected was to see John Barrick, a JMU alum and current GM Engineer. For those of you not familiar with John, not only did he redesign the Cadillac CTS chassis, he also was the chief engineer of the Cadillac STS-V Sport Sedan development. While in graduate school John was a 2-time National Karting Champion. One of his most impressive accomplishments was co-driving the 2000 Cadillac STS Pace Car at 8 different race tracks, including Gingerman Raceway and runs at the 24 Hours of Le Mans(2X) and tackling the Pikes Peak Climb. The Pace Car was a 350hp V-8 32-valve port fuel-injected NorthStar engine producing 345 ft-lbs of torque with StabiliTrac 2.0, a full safety roll cage and a fire suppression system. It was later auctioned off at the Barrett-Jackson Collector Car Auction.

Cars and Coffee started up at 9:00 AM and the Clinic got going at 11:00 AM. The guest speaker was Mike Gassman of Gassman Automotive and Upholstery, with over 25+ years of knowledge and skin in the game, he shared several of his trade secrets with us. For the 1st 40 minutes, Mike talked to us about his business and how he got his start. He then went into some of the famous Concours level restorations he had done, one being a Platinum Level Award winning 1952 Ferrari 212 Inter Geneva Coupe Vignale. The car scored a near perfect score at the Concorso d’Eleganza, a 99.998 out of 100 points!!!

After the introduction, we got straight down to business. I had no idea that it was going to be a full "hands-on" clinic. Our 1st task was to cover some cardboard door-panel insert style pieces, which really captured my full attention, since I was in the process of restoring mine, on one of the SPGs. He brought out several rolls of high quality vinyl and leather. After showing us the very subtle differences between the rolls, no way to distinguish by look or feel --- only way to differentiate was to turn the hide over, he gave us several pieces to cover on our own. He walked us through the process and I must say, by simply following his instructions, the results were amazing!!!

The next task involved a technique / process that I had never heard of before, it was called "Flocking". It involved applying a velvety velour type of monofilament polyester fibers that would adhere to practically anything; dash, glovebox, glass, plastic, metal.....The entire process was incredibly easy, fast and inexpensive --- a complete flocking kit cost only $30 -$40. The prep and application took less than 20 minutes for a small piece. The results produced a piece that had the look and feel of alcantara.

The wonderful staff at MAAP, treated us to lunch after the upholstery session and then it was on to shaping metal. The in-class prop was a track prepped Porsche 944T, that had suffered some light metal damage to the front passenger side quarter panel. Mike took time to explain to us the necessary tools required and he also, gave us a lesson on fillers, that I will never forget.

We will be back at MAAP next month, to watch the same 944 being professionally wrapped. I am very excited about returning for the next clinic. I cannot say enough great things about Cole and Michael at MAAP, they will be taking some of their students down to the Amelia Concours d'Elegance in March.

Link to the video on YouTube: