December 20, 2022

Recipient Spotlight: Thomas Mancuso

Name: Thomas Mancuso

School: McPherson College

Location: McPherson, Kansas

Areas of interest :
Engine & Mechanical, Frame & Suspension, Original (Stock) Restoration, Resto-Mods, Imports

Era of interest:
1950s, 1960s, 1970s, 1980s, 1990s, 2010s, Modern

Tell us what first sparked your interest in collector vehicles.

I’ve been interested in cars all my life, but the single event that kicked off my passion for turning wrenches was back in 2014 when my father and I bought our first project car, a 1974 Triumph TR6. Since then, we’ve owned two classic Mini’s, which I’ve been fortunate enough to complete a multitude of projects on, increasing my love for working on classic cars.

What motivates you to pursue a career in vehicle restoration/preservation?

The end result is the most satisfying part of the job. While as a student, the process of arriving there is arguably more important, however when you pour hours and hours of work into a project, seeing your work completed and driving again is a joy like no other. Being able to take a vehicle that was destined for the scrap yard, and create it into what it once was when it rolled off the factory floor, is a big part of my passion for automotive restoration. Cars are not simply transportation alone but art that must be preserved.

Do you have a vehicle you’re working on / have worked on? What is it, and what kind of work are you doing?

I own a 1992 Classic Mini that has undergone many projects to maintain its extremely reliable state. It’s a very low-mileage car (only 13k miles right now), so most of my projects have included appearance upgrades, ride comfort, and maintenance. I haven’t touched the little 1.3L motor mechanically, but upgrades such as a new radiator and cooling fan have made it a fantastic daily-driver-worthy car here in Kansas. It’s a blast to drive, and I drive it as much as I can, as long as the weather is nice!

Tell us about your favorite vehicle-related experience.

My favorite experience has to be working in a shop at my first internship. Being able to turn wrenches on a wide variety of different vehicles was a dream come true. I learned a multitude of information and skills, and I feel better than ever about making this my career.

What are your short-term/long-term career goals?

My short-term would be to take part in one more internship before I graduate in 2024, and my long-term would be to find myself in an automotive restoration career that can provide well for me in the coming years. Gaining experience before graduating is a must for me, and I look forward to more opportunities to do so.

What has been the best part of your education/training experience so far?

The best part of being at this school is learning from other people. Talking with like-minded individuals is the greatest form of learning and bonding. I have grown great relationships here with not only students but professors, as well. Asking questions has been continuously helpful in furthering my education.

How has the RPM Foundation impacted your education/career path?

RPM has helped me pursue further education through internships and gain extensive knowledge about restoration.

Recipient Spotlight