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13-year-old has knack for mechanics on his 1970 Challenger

Old 01-23-2007, 06:07 PM
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Default 13-year-old has knack for mechanics on his 1970 Challenger

Look at it mounted on the rotissierie. He is serious about restoration.

13-year-old has knack for mechanics

Now restoring 1970 Dodge Challenger


Tuesday, January 23, 2007

By KATHRIN KLENSHTEYN - Bulletin Staff Writer

Don’t look for Capers Zentmeyer in front of a computer or television screen. He is more likely to be tinkering under the hood of a car.


The 13-year-old Carlisle School eighth-grader likes spending time at his hobby with his father, Gentry Zentmeyer, a master at restoring classic and potentially beautiful but “dead” cars.

Gentry Zentmeyer has worked on cars since his teen years and owns AutoInstruments Corp., a company that rebuilds and refaces old instrument panels and finds parts for older cars. So the fact that his son shows such an interest in cars is no surprise.

One of Capers’ first memories around cars is playing in and around them while his father worked.

Capers has many favorite kinds of cars, including Aston Martins, Ferraris, Porsches and Lamborghinis.

He currently is working on converting his first car, a 1970 Dodge Challenger, into a hot rod. He got it last summer, and he usually spends about six hours each weekend day working on it.

Right now, the Challenger is dead and hanging from a car rotisserie. According to Zentmeyer, father and son will rebuild it “from the ground up.”

That involves cutting and sandblasting rusty parts off the body, welding new sheet metal on it, priming and painting, putting the suspension and wheels on the vehicle and installing a new engine and transmission system.

Although the car is hanging on the rotisserie to make the work easier, things still can get tiring. Capers said he spent three solid days wielding a large red sandblasting machine to get the rust off his car.

Restoration work also can be dangerous. One day, Capers had been lying on his side unbolting the car’s dashboard. He remembers he had four screws left and worked on one after another until he got to the last bolt. That was when the dashboard crashed on top of him.

“That dash was really heavy,” he said, adding he had to call for help getting it off.

Capers plans to have the car finished by the time he turns 15 and “before I get my learner’s (permit).”

He said he has the assurance of knowing that if his car breaks while he is on the road, “I’ll get to fix it myself.” His father added it makes for a good reason not to get a cell phone.

As far as he knows, Capers is the only one of his friends to have such a hobby. He believes his time in the garage is valuable because while his friends are playing on the computer, he is working on and learning about cars.

Zentmeyer also values the bonds he has created over the years with his son because of their shared interest in cars. He added that when Capers gets older and in “that range” when kids begin to have disagreements with their parents, “we’ll have something in common and enjoy doing things together.”

The father and son recently returned from a trip to Newfoundland, where they raced a 1965 Mustang built to Shelby specifications and won in the stock class. The week-long race spanned 1,800 miles of Newfoundland.

In August, they will travel to Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah, said Zentmeyer. The flats are a prehistoric sea that is level ground for 20-30 miles in each direction — perfect for attempting to set speed records.

Zentmeyer will compete there in a 1979 Chevy Monza.

“We think we can set a (speed) record (for that class),” he said.

At school, Capers’ favorite subject is math, he said, and he thinks he wants to become a doctor. Whatever he ends up doing, though, he knows he will always be fixing up cars.

Zentmeyer and his wife, Bennette, said they named Capers after Bennette’s great-great-great-grandfather, Thomas Capers. According to Zentmeyer, Thomas Capers fought in th
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Old 01-23-2007, 08:01 PM
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Default RE: 13-year-old has knack for mechanics on his 1970 Challenger

I remember at that age I suddenly was wanting to work on cars all the time. Anytime something went wrong on one of my parent's cars, I got excited. I really enjoyed working on that stuff when I was 13. I wish I still had the passion for working on cars. Nowdays, I dread it when something goes wrong (which isn't too often). Maybe this is because I'm so busy these days.
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Old 01-24-2007, 08:25 PM
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Default RE: 13-year-old has knack for mechanics on his 1970 Challenger

I enjoyed working on my Dodge Challenger when I didn't have to depend on it for transportation.

In college, I was stressed if I had to do work on it. I would come home on Friday afternoon and work on it
Friday until night fall, Saturday, and I had to finish it on Sunday night to have it ready to go to school on Monday morning.

Now that was stressful.
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Old 01-24-2007, 10:14 PM
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Default RE: 13-year-old has knack for mechanics on his 1970 Challenger

i didt get a REAL education working on cars until i got a job doing it...i would work alongside my dad on the mirada, and when he needed help at the shop, but i learned a ton working as a mechanic...since then, ive continued doing more to cars and engines...a friend of mine and i put together a heavily built 420a a few months back...he is waiting on some little things now to get the 500hp beast running...

i used to tinker around with ym first car (1961 ford falcon) until someone offered me a bunch of money for it..or at least a bunch to ME...and it was gone and in came the mirada.
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