There’s nothing like a good puzzle to keep one’s mind sharp.
And if it involves physical labor, that’s even better, according to Bob Clover of Hibbing.
That’s what draws Clover into the garage to work on remodeling his 1955 Chevy station wagon day after day.
“It gets me thinking. It gets my mind working,” he said. “It’s a real daunting task. There are a lot of pieces to the puzzle.”
Clover noted the doors, windows and other parts that are removed to be renovated or replaced will eventually need to be reinstalled, which is often a big challenge.
“I’m always using my mind. That keeps me sharp in retirement,” he said. “I really learn a lot from doing this. I learn how things work. That’s certainly a good thing.”
Whether it’s too cold outside or the stresses of life catch up to him, Clover said wrenching on the old Chevy gives him a focus and helps put his mind at ease.
“It’s nice on cold, winter days to go in the garage, turn the heater up, turn radio on and just go at it,” he said.
While he’s into auto restoration, many others love tinkering in their garage woodworking, engine rebuilding or play darts, among other activities that keeps one busy and often allows one to relax.
Clover first got into remodeling cars in 2000. He’s currently working on his third car. He’s remodeled and sold a car similar to the one he’s currently working on, and has a fully remodeled Chevy Nomad Sedan Delivery stored in his garage.
He said he always wanted to get into remodeling cars. However, after getting married, building a house and having kids, he didn’t have the money to put into such a costly project.
“Then my kids got older and I had the opportunity to do it … so I took it,” he said, adding he’d been enjoying it as much as he had envisioned. “It’s a big commitment. A lot of time is involved, but once you get going, it’s a lot of fun.”
Each car has taken Clover about four years to completely remodel. It also takes a lot of advice and assistance from his friends.
“I could never do this on my own. It requires a lot of help,” he said. “What’s cool is you meet a lot of people doing this, and then you share knowledge with each other. If neither of you know how to do something, chances are one of you knows someone who does.”
In fact, one of Clover’s many contacts has come in handy with his current project. He is currently putting a Corvette suspension on the station wagon he’s working on, and knows a guy who specializes in that type of suspension.
Clover said he’d be struggling with that part of his project if it wasn’t for having access to someone who’s an “expert” on the topic. He said his reasoning for converting the station wagon to Corvette suspension is he wants it to have better steering and disc brakes.
Aside from mechanical improvements, the body of the car also has blemishes that need fixed. Clover said he plans to strip and blast the whole body, noting that will remove all of the red oxide primer that is hiding dings and dents.
The car came from Florida and has little rust. Although it’s 60 years old and was driven, which guarantees it would have some cosmetic issues, he said.
Once Clover revamps the car from its seats to the engine and transmission, he said he may drive it for a little while but will eventually sell it.
“Some guys get a kick out of driving them,” he said. “There’s nothing wrong with that. I’m just more into the building aspect of it all.”
But remodeling cars is a pricey hobby, Clover said. Part of the reason he sold the first station wagon he remodeled was so he could afford to buy a different car to work on.
“I’d like to keep them all, but I can’t. If I won the lottery, I would have a 20-stall garage full of cars,” he said. “And it may be expensive, but you know that going in. And once it’s done, you know what you have. Everything is new and shiny, which is what I like.”
Clover said he also enjoys hunting, fishing and a variety of other hobbies, but nothing allows him to work with his hands like remodeling a car does.
“This is my passion,” he said. “I enjoy working with my hands and using my mind. When I’m wrenching on a car, I’m always thinking. It keeps me on my toes.”
But the best part of remodeling a car is seeing the final product.
“I enjoy making 60-year-old cars look brand new,” he said. “I get a kick out of that and a sense of self gratification.”