As a graduate of McPherson College, the only school to provide a bachelor’s degree in Restoration Technology, Michael Rhodes has built his career well beyond an automotive restoration shop – he is the youngest curator of perhaps the largest Historic Classic Car Collection in the world. And at all of 34 years-old and with the responsibility of taking care of 600 rare vehicles within the Missouri-based Evergreen Collection, he has both the knowledge base and justified experience to provide students and collectors alike the pathway to keeping preservation alive and well. Rhodes will be offering a presentation of his automotive journey on Saturday, September 30th, from noon – 12:45pm, on the show field near the awards tent for the Atlanta Concours d’Elegance, at Chateau Elan in Braselton, Ga.
Attending the presentation, will not only be Amanda Gutierrez, vice president for auto restoration at McPherson College, but also Diane Fitzgerald, Chicago-based president of the RPM Foundation, the organization that provided Rhodes the scholarship that got him into McPherson and launched his foundation within the collector vehicle industry.
“Because of the benefits I received early on, my passion for preservation and restoration achieved an even higher level,” said Rhodes. “It’s imperative that our world of fine craftsmanship in the automotive community is not lost by today’s current technologies, but merely enhanced by them.” Rhodes invites students to work at his own shop, and is eager to not only teach but provide opportunities for hands-on learning experiences that can deliver enormous dividends to students that choose to take initiative. Rhodes contends he’s thankful to those that have helped him along the way and he wants to be certain the same opportunities can continue to be handed down to others.
Rhodes will be bringing six prominent vehicles from the famed Evergreen Collection to the Atlanta Concours, and during his presentation will be highlighting an impeccable Mercedes Benz 540K, arguably the most noteworthy production model offered by Mercedes Benz during the 1930s. This aerodynamic model – a two-seater ‘Cabriolet A’ from the Evergreen Collection — had a complete nut and bolt restoration and was completed by the experts at Evergreen Historic Automobile’s restoration shop in 2016. The car was unveiled at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance that year where it was awarded 3rdin its class and the prestigious ‘Mercedes Benz Star of Excellence’ award.
Additional entry vehicles Rhodes will be bringing to the Atlanta Concours include:
- 1905 Locomobile Model E, once billed as “Easily the Best Car in America,” was a high-end luxury vehicle, priced between a $2,800 and $4,750 (at a time when the average wage was 22 cents per hour and the average worker made between $200-$400 per year). Automobile historian and writer Henry Austin Clark Jr. acquired this Model E around the time of the Second World War. It is believed that the prior owner was Mike Caruso, owner of the famous salvage yard and automotive museum in Long Island. By 1987, the Model E was acquired by Richard C. Paine Jr. and displayed at his Seal Cove Auto Museum until being acquired by William Ruger for his famous collection. The complete restoration of this car was done to such exacting standards that the two-tone red paint was very carefully brush-finished, as it was done in the period.
- 1931 Cadillac 355A, Dual Cowl Phaeton by Fleetwood is an example of the first year of production of the 355 model. The 355A was available in twelve different body styles with coachwork by either Fisher or Fleetwood. Although the flagship V-12’s and V-16’s received most of the press, the V-8 powered models were extremely luxurious and made with the same expert craftsmanship. The lowest priced 355A cost just under $2,850 new while the top-of-the-line 355A was nearly $3,800 which was the same price as an entry-level 370A with a twelve-cylinder engine. This particular V-8 model 355A has just undergone a complete nut and bolt restoration by the experts in the Evergreen Historic Automobiles restoration shop.
- 1937 Lincoln Model K roadster, body number 14 of the 15 convertibles built that year, entire Model K production was limited to a mere 977 cars in 1937. Only six of the roadsters are known to still exist, with rumors of a seventh. At a curb weight of 5,500 lbs, this model continues to be driven and has enjoyed over 100k miles, only repairs to keep it safe and road worthy have been performed. The paint is still factory Ascot Maroon.
- 1947 Chrysler Town and Country, was Chrysler’s top-of-the-line vehicle and embodied the pinnacle of post-war glamour. Its name derived from the combination of the steel front end representing ‘Town’ and the wood panel representing ‘Country’. The body is framed in white ash and required extensive hand work to assemble. Produced from 1946 through 1950, the model was based on a New York chassis and built in limited numbers due to its complexity and high exterior maintenance. Chrysler only built 3,136 examples of the Town & Country convertibles in 1947 and it is estimated that less than 500 of these factory coach-built post-war “woodies” still exist today.
- 1960 Daimler Dart SP250 ‘Catfish’ built by the Daimler Company of Coventry England, originally known for making limousines and hearses for the UK upper class and royalty, this SP250 was unveiled in 1959 at the New York Auto Show. The all fiberglass body, four-wheel disc brake, 2.5-litre Hemi V8 powered sports car was the last car to be launched by Daimler before being purchased by Jaguar in 1960. With a gaping grille and whisk-like bumper, similar to the look of an angry catfish, this SP250 was one of only 2,654 ever produced during the five years of production. This SP250 continues to be driven often in vintage races, rallies, on tours, and to many shows where it has never failed to impress the driver and the crowds.
Photos for all six entries by the Evergreen Collection can be viewed at: https://www.dropbox.com/sh/nu9k65h0d37wdwd/AABokdAEDdRCIwhG0QKj3zTha?dl=0
ABOUT THE ATLANTA CONCOURS:
Founded by Co-Chairman Harry Krix, and Co-Chairman and COO Bill Wallet, the Atlanta Concours d’Elegance is the first premier automotive event to grace the metropolitan Atlanta region and will include 150 vintage and collectible entrant vehicles, as well as approximately 200 rare and high-interest privately owned automobiles on display. Krix and Wallet are lifelong friends and business associates who joined together three years ago to realize their dream of producing a major classic automobile event such as the Concours d’Elegance for the Atlanta community. More information can be found at www.atlantaconcours.org
Twitter: @ATLConcours Instagram: @ATLConcours
Snapchat: ATLConcours Facebook: /atlantaconcours
ABOUT THE RPM FOUNDATION:
The RPM Foundation supports restoration and preservation training programs for the next generation of automotive, motorcycle and marine craftsmen. As the educational arm of America’s Automotive Trust, the services, resources and grants provided by the RPM Foundation safeguard the future of the collector vehicle industry by sustaining hands-on training for young adults. The RPM Foundation is based in Chicago with an office in Tacoma, Washington, and Ambassadors in 11 states and abroad.
ABOUT MCPHERSON COLLEGE :
Focusing on the complete restoration of valuable, classic and antique automobiles built from 1886 to 1970, Kansas-based McPherson College is the only university in the United States to offer a four-year Bachelor of Science degree in Automotive Restoration Technology. There are eight scholarships offered exclusively to Automotive Restoration students, with the most famous being the ‘Fred Duesenberg Memorial Scholarship’ endowed by Jay Leno and Peter Heydon, and the ‘Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance Scholarship’ in honor of Phil Hill endowed by the Pebble Beach Company Foundation and Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance.