Local resident restores, shares love of classic cars
EVART TWP. — John Hohman lives among nostalgic pieces of machinery dating back decades, bringing back memories of his childhood in the Hemlock area.
The retired educator and member of the Evart Car Club keeps himself busy with the classic cars around his property. One in particular, a four-door 1946 Pontiac Torpedo 6, is in the restoration stages, with original and new fenders awaiting sanding, paint and installation.
"Pontiac is what I grew up with," Hohman said, adding his father owned a Buick/Pontiac dealership. "I remember the '40s cars because my mother received the used cars to drive."
Hohman purchased the Torpedo 6 in the mid-1980s on 80th Avenue in Evart Township. Upon bringing it home, he discovered it was the car of his daughter's boyfriend's grandfather. The vehicle was rusted through in several places, but the flathead straight-6 engine and interior gauges and switches were in working order.
Though he tinkered with the car in his spare time, he began restoring it in earnest last winter, welding in large pieces of metal where the body had rusted through, having other pieces made to fit the original design and giving the car a coat of metallic maroon paint. He intends to repair the interior to 1950s standards.
"I wanted to have it done by the Fourth of July, but obviously that's not going to happen," Hohman said, gesturing to unfinished fenders and a plastic milk jug used for a gas tank.
Another of his cars, a black 1938 Buick Trunkback Sedan, sits in an overgrown field on Hohman's property. The car belonged to his father before he passed away. With the car's straight-8 engine and other vital pieces missing, it does not run. It's slowly succumbing to time with rusting panels, fading paint and a deteriorating interior.
The vehicle is a wildcard for Hohman. He admits he didn't want the Buick, but was pressed by family members to take it.
"If I ever sold this car, there would be heck to pay," he said. "I'm pretty much stuck with it for the duration of time."
He has no interest in restoring it, and if he did, he would need another car to use for parts. His other option is to spend time and money to turn it into a hot rod.
"I figured out if I restored it back to its original condition, I would spend somewhere in the vicinity of $10,000 and it would be worth less than $20,000," Hohman added. "Hot rods are very popular right now, and if I spend the same time and money to make it into one, it'd be worth about $30,000."
The hot rod trend is holding strong, but he's not convinced about the endeavor.
Another of his vehicles may be familiar to many in the Evart area. Decorated in blue and yellow paint with a custom wood bed frame and rack, Hohman's (mostly) Pontiac pickup truck may perplex classic car buffs.
The truck began as a smashed 1951 Chevrolet. Hohman said his father, who didn't want to spend the money on proper parts, found a grill and front fascia from a 1953 Pontiac and found a way to merge the two into one vehicle.
In the early 1980s, Hohman asked for the truck and used parts from a 1969 Pontiac for additional modifications. The interior is a mix of Pontiac and Chevrolet and the windshield was found in a junkyard, but the truck has the original wheels, transmission and suspension, and under the hood sits a 350 V8 motor, he said.
"When people who know cars see this truck, they know something's not right," Hohman said with a laugh. "They usually know one part is from a Chevy and another is from a Pontiac, but then they get confused."
The truck is mainly used for parades and car shows, which he and his wife, Sandra, enjoy attending.
"They're fun," Sandra said. "I like looking at the old cars, riding in them and going to shows. I like the response from people and their enthusiasm."
His love of cars began at a young age, and Hohman's affection for and desire to restore the classics carried on and flourished due to his love of learning.
"Every old car has a story of some type and fixing them up is for my own enjoyment and personal goals," he said. "I've always had the desire to learn as much as I can about everything. Cars are something else to learn about and fiddle with."