Bruce Kenison’s garage isn’t just an episode of “American Restoration” waiting to happen; it just might be an entire season of the popular cable show that features dream restorations of antiques from the golden days of the 20th century.
An Iowa Falls native, Kenison grew up in a family vending business that was founded back in 1928, so he’s seen a lot of classic machines come and go over the years. He’s collected antique jukeboxes, coin-operated amusement devices and rare pinball machines. One of his favorite finds comes not from the family business, but from service people and the unique vehicles they drove.
“I’ve had this car since I was 20 years old,” Kenison says of his 1956 Chevy Sedan Delivery vehicle.
Back in the day, the car would have been a popular choice for traveling salesmen or suppliers.
“It would have been the Kool cigarette man or the Fuller Brush man driving a car like this,” he explains.
Kenison pulled the Chevy out of a grove near Cedar Falls some 30 years ago and began the long restoration project.
“It was in very bad shape,” he recalls. “It was something most people would just take to the junkyard and crush.”
Fortunately, Kenison saw the beauty that lingered under the rusted-out body and went so far as to replace the entire body of the car.
“Actually, this body that’s on it now came from California. I took the original body off, and this is a California, rust-free body,” he says. “The Midwest is hard on cars,” as fellow Iowans can relate.
Car bodies that come out of the Southwest, or even Montana, Idaho and Washington, have far fewer troubles with rust. While some of those states do see some winter weather, road crews typically use sand instead of salt, which is kinder to most vehicles, he explains.
In addition to the body replacement, Kenison put a new Chevy V-8 engine in the Sedan. Kenison did the work himself and appreciates the fact that cars of this year were much easier to work on.
“My grandfather was a mechanic forever,” he says. “I’m not very good at it, but I just keep trying with a lot of trial and error.”
Contact Darren at 953-4822 ext. 304 or firstname.lastname@example.org to recommend someone for an upcoming issue of “What’s In Your Garage?”