P-CEP students keep the hobby of car restoration and repairs alive

Kyra Burkhardt’s 1969 Ford Ranger Camper Special truck, which she has been repairing for three years, is parked on the side of a road. October 31, 2021.
Kyra Burkhardt’s 1969 Ford Ranger Camper Special truck, which she has been repairing for three years, is parked on the side of a road. October 31, 2021.
Kyra Burkhardt

Among the selection of hobbies available for students to partake in, a select few have chosen a rather “costly and time-consuming hobby,” says Michael Frantsen, auto classes instructor. For some, the hobby has always been a passion. For others, it has been a road of discovery.

Kyra Burkhardt and her 1969 Ford Ranger Camper Special Truck 

Kyra Burkhardt makes repairs to her 1969 Ford Ranger Camper Special truck in her family garage. May 26, 2021. Ryan Burkhardt.

Having grown up in a family involved in the car industry, Kyra Burkhardt, Canton senior, owns a 1969 Ford Ranger Camper Special Truck that she purchased in May of 2021 and has been repairing since.

Just before the COVID-19 pandemic, Burkhardt completed her first-ever restoration project with her dad, putting an original engine block into his 1930 Model A. That project inspired her to buy her own vehicle and begin a project.

“[My inspiration] comes from my dad because I like seeing him work on the different aspects of the car and he allows me to help him with it,” Burkhardt explains. “I really wanted to be able to do it on my own.”

Kyra Burkhardt turns the key in the ignition inside her 1969 Ford Ranger Camper Special truck. August 9, 2024. (Hannah Oberski )

Her search began on Facebook Marketplace. They initially looked for a 1970 Chevrolet truck, but all the listings they came across were modified and not in original condition. Eventually, they came across the 1969 Ford Ranger located in Lansing, Michigan. After a few trips to check out the car, Burkhart made the purchase.

Kyra Burkhardt installs a third seat belt in her 1969 Ford Ranger Camper Special truck in her family garage. February 3, 2024. Ryan Burkhardt.

To her surprise, the previous owner of the truck was selling everything he owned so he and his wife could live on a sailboat to travel the world. Along with the truck, he sold her a 1980 transmission block and a whole toolbox full of ratchets, wrenches and other tools. 

The original owner of the car and Burkhardt stay in contact. For Burkhardt’s 17th birthday, he gifted her the truck’s original license plate.

Burkhardt took to social media to share her car repair journey, naming her series “Kyra’s Garage,” where she posts photos of her and her truck and different maintenance projects ranging from oil changes to installing seats, helping others maintain their vehicles as well. Burkhardt hopes her followers can gain from her car tips and if they find themselves stuck on the side of the road, they know what steps to take.


Matthew and Jonathan Sinclair and their 1921 Model T and 1911 Brush Model E

The Sinclair brothers’ Carter 1911 Brush Model E freshly painted, is parked on the side of the road awaiting the brothers to install the upholstery. March 25, 2024. (Jonathan Sinclair )

Like Burkhardt, brothers Matthew and Jonathan Sinclair, Plymouth senior and freshman, have always been interested in the world of car restoration.

Matthew Sinclair laughingly recalls his first real experience with car restoration, which began at the age of two when he put a screwdriver through the radiator of a Model T.

“It’s just something I’ve grown up with, so eventually, I wanted to do it myself,” said Matthew Sinclair. 

Matthew Sinclair’s brother, Jonathan Sinclair, also said, “Ever since Matthew and I have been old enough to work on [the Model T], we’ve been slowly improving the condition of the car while keeping it as original as possible.”

The Sinclair brothers’ Model T sits in the parking lot of a 7-Eleven. November 26, 2024. (Jonathan Sinclair )

Resorting to online forums and catalogs in search of parts, Matthew Sinclair described the process of finding parts for the Model T as, “Stupid easy to find.”

Since completing the necessary repairs to the Model T, Matthew Sinclair has even driven it on tours, including the Lansing to Dearborn Endurance Run in the summer of 2023. Matthew Sinclair marked this tour as a memorable experience, both good and bad. 

Driving the Model T for a long ride on the tour was a new experience for Matthew Sinclair. “It’s like using all of your appendages to drive these cars,” said Matthew Sinclair. “We were driving this thing and you don’t get up past 40 mph. Forty is about where you want to drive at, 50 mph feels like the end of the world when you’re going in a Model T.”

The Sinclair brothers’ Carter 1911 Brush Model E sits parked in their garage awaiting repairs. July 10, 2023. (Jonathan Sinclair. )

Halfway through this tour, Matthew Sinclair noticed that his tires were balding. This was because, after they had rebuilt the front axle, they forgot to reset the alignment. Matthew Sinclair says, “So I drove 200 miles on a misaligned front end and it scrubbed the tread off of the tires. The front tires were completely bald. It was bad.”

After consulting with a few of the other fellow car owners on the tour, the brothers decided to continue with the tour, with the bald tires and if need be, spares were available. They can look back and laugh at the situation now, but it was a learning experience. The Sinclair brothers have since moved on to a different project, a 1911 Brush Model E. The Sinclair brothers were introduced to the car by a friend in the car community who knew the Sinclairs were interested in brass model cars.

“We’d been looking in brass era cars,” Jonathan adds, “so anything [before] 1916, [According to] the Horseless Carriage Club [of America]. 


The body of the Sinclair brothers’ Carter 1911 Brush Model E dries after a fresh coat of pain in the family garage. February 4, 2024. (Jonathan Sinclair. )

Matthew Sinclair said finding parts for the Brush was a lot more difficult than the Model T. “You either have to make it or buy a parts car, which is expensive.”

While the brothers can make the repairs and prep for paint, they leave the actual painting for “a guy who has spent years learning how to paint,” Matthew Sinclair said.

Reaching out to the auto paint teacher for help, Jonathan Sinclair said, “[Michael] Franzton, the auto paint teacher, helped us by painting the [wheels and seatback] of the old Carter 1911 Brush Model E.”

While Matthew Sinclar has not taken any of the auto classes offered at the Park, he is pursuing a mechanical engineering degree at Purdue University. Jonathan Sinclair plans on taking the Auto Paint class taught by Michael Frantsen his senior year.


Michael Frantsen and his 1976 Camero

Michael Frantzen, CTE teacher and P-CEP graduate, shows a picture from 1999 with his 1976 Camaro when he was in the auto class then entitled, “Unibody Construction.” 1999. Courtesy of (Michael Frantsen)

Michael Frantsen, Canton CTE teacher and P-CEP graduate, took auto classes as a student and now teaches them at the Park. When Frantsen took Auto Body Repair and Restoration class in his junior and senior years, at the time called, Unibody Construction, he began restoring his 1976 Camaro. He keeps the car in his classroom to use as an example for the students who still complete repairs on it.

While Frantsen acknowledges the hobby of car restoration and repairs to be costly in terms of money and labor, he said, “I did it because I liked it, and I enjoyed it. It’s a hobby, and like any hobby, most of the time you’re not getting a good amount of money.”

From the students to the teachers, their love of cars prevails, and the joy they get from the hobby of car restoration and repair makes the costs and time all worth it.

Readers can follow Kyra Burkhardt’s journey in auto maintenance @kyras_garage on Instagram.

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Sara Dallalah
Sara Dallalah, Social Media Editor

Sara Dallalah is a Canton junior who joined The Perspective in the fall of 2022. She was introduced to The Perspective by her friend and fellow staff member Grace Ridpath. She enjoys reading, painting and taking care of her plants. She is currently a Marketing student, and she hopes to apply the skills she is learning to upcoming projects. She hopes to become fluent in Spanish by the end of her senior year, and is still exploring different interests with the hope of finding a field to major in while attending college. 

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