The 1960 Plymouth Barracuda housed in the garage at Harlem High School shows its age.
No engine. No paint. No seats.
But the classic car is on the mend -- a shell of its future self.
Harlem's automotive students started restoring the vehicle, which was donated by a friend of the school, in early October. The car should be finished in time for Harlem's car show in the spring, complete with a Chrysler 360 engine, flat black paint and Harlem decals created by the school's technology class.
And the car should be race-ready. Nick Hayes, Harlem's automotive instructor, plans to take the car to a drag strip and let his students take it for a spin.
"I'm ready to get it finished, ready to race it," Harlem junior Jonathon Cook said. "It's been pretty crazy stripping it down."
The car is being funded by the 21st Century program through Family Connections of Columbia County, headed by Julie Miller. Hayes also solicits local vendors to get discounts on needed parts.
Hayes would like other area schools to start similar programs so that the schools can compete in the spring. He said Evans High School had taken an interest in the program, and that his students tell friends from other schools what they're doing and have received envious responses.
"Hopefully, it will catch on and they will see the benefits of what it's done for our school getting the kids involved in a project like this," Hayes said. "Hopefully, that will make other schools want to build one."
The automotive program at Harlem is available as a core concentration. Graduates receive an automotive seal on their diplomas and can place out of certain classes at Augusta Technical College.
Cook, who said he already knew cars before starting the program, plans to attend college and start his own business as a mechanic.
He said he's changed alternators, starters and at least one transmission on his own time.
Some of his classmates don't have the same base of knowledge. For them, it's been more of a learning process.
"They really don't know what's going on," Cook said. "We've been teaching them a few things along the way."
The students work on the car four days a week, for up to 2 hours a day. They installed disc brakes last week and removed the remaining glass from the windows.
The Chrysler 360 engine, taken from a 2000 Dodge Durango, is currently at an engine shop, but will be assembled and installed by the students.
In the past, Harlem's automotive students have installed truck lift kits and converted cars into convertibles to serve as the "Dawg Car," which is used at homecoming.
"I just try to do as many fun projects as I can along with the live work," Hayes said. "It gives the kids an opportunity to get their feet wet and do a lot more."
Instructor Nick Hayes (center) works on a differential with students Kyle DeLoach (left) and Jonathan Edwards.[CAPTION]
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