September 9, 2022

Recipient Spotlight: James Pawlak

Name: James Pawlak

School: McPherson College

Location: McPherson, Kansas

Areas of interest :
Engine & Mechanical, Interior & Trim, Fabrication & Metal Shaping, Historic Vehicle Preservation, Original (Stock) Restoration, Hot Rods, Resto-Mods, Performance Mods / Tuning, Imports, Motorcycles

Era of interest:
Pre-War (1900-1939), 1940s, 1950s, 1960s, 1970s, 1980s

What sparked your interest in collector vehicles?
I had to be three or four years old. I lived down the block from someone with an old drag car. Whenever he would start it up, I would run to the front door, stick my face against the glass, and watch him as he drove by. That was my first experience being around classic cars.

Do you have a vehicle you’re working on / have worked on? What is it and what kind of work are you doing?
I have a 1967 Chevelle Malibu. I did a lot of work on it before college, but I still tinker on it occasionally. My cousin and I did an under the hood restoration: brakes, suspension, new engine (1969 396). I also restored the dashboard. Overall it was a fun project that I am able to enjoy now.

What are your short-term/long-term career goals?
Out of college, I would either like to work for a shop or potentially an auction company. I enjoy diagnosing mechanical issues as well as sewing, so I might pursue those options. For a long-term goal, I would love to work on vintage race cars from the 1970s and earlier.

How has the RPM Foundation impacted your education/career path?
The funding provided by the RPM foundation has allowed me to purchase tools I otherwise would not have been able to. That has helped me further my learning in the field now that I am cable of working on more projects as I continue to learn. It has also made doing internships possible because the money helped pay for living expenses while I was away from home.

Recipient Spotlight