John Vetter has come a long way since buying his first car on a very humble salary.
“My first car was a 1959 Fiat that I bought with money from my paper route,” he recalls.
These days, when Vetter feels like going for a Sunday drive, he’s got his choice of beautiful rides. On a warm autumn day in Boone, a 1940 Chevy and 1932 Ford share driveway space at his home.
The Ford is one his favorites.
“We take this out quite a bit when it’s nice,” Vetter says. “My wife and I took it for a drive through the Ledges just the other day.”
Compared with a 1937 Chevy that rumbles down the road with more than 500 horsepower under the hood, the Ford seems to give a more relaxing ride.
“My wife doesn’t like that one as well; it’s got too much motor for her,” he says. “She really likes this one, and we have a lot of fun with it.”
To Vetter, half the fun is simply making an old car ride like new again. He actually bought the 1932 Ford as a “project car” from a retired woodworking teacher who had already done a lot of work to the interior.
The roof of the car is a showpiece in tongue-and-groove white oak. Vetter plans to make the rest of the interior worthy of that beautiful roof. The seat will be taken out this winter and reupholstered with buckskin to coordinate the interior.
Such details in a vintage car is Vetter’s specialty.
“I always wanted something to look nice — didn’t know how to do it myself — and couldn’t afford to have anyone else do it, so I just learned myself,” he explains.
While working as a full-time forester for the Iowa Department of Natural R, Vetter took night classes at Des Moines Area Community College to become a master upholsterer. It’s an art, he says, that requires patience and attention to fine detail, similar to master carpentry.
“Measure three times, cut once,” he says with a grin — especially when considering the quality of fabrics he likes to install in the classic cars.
After all, if you’re going ride in style on the outside, you’ve got to make it first class on the inside as well.
“If you have a love of cars, get out and enjoy them,” he concludes.
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?”