Store bought model kitsStore bought model kitsStore bought model kits

Tinker toys, modeling clay, assembling model airplanes, Jim Rodman as a youngster was always making things.  He drew cars in high school and started making models of his own creation.  He could look at a magazine picture and fashion a scaled down wooden model of a car or an airplane.  As his model making got more sophisticated he got into hot rodding.  In 1964 he sold his ’56 Chevy and bought a Model-A hot rod with a small block Chevy engine.  Jim was hooked on cars.

He became a draftsman at Allis-Chalmers for a while and in 1965 went to work for Whirlpool, drawing exploded-view product illustrations.  His evenings and weekends were spent making drawing of cars, creating models of cars, and working on cars.  Later he went into the armed service all the while thinking of nothing but cars.

Exploded views drawn by Jim RodmanExploded views drawn by Jim RodmanExploded views drawn by Jim Rodman

In 1972 two momentous things occurred in Jim’s life; he got married and he bought a ’31 Chevy 2-door from a junkyard.  As he started to poke around in the car he discovered much to his dismay that it had many wooden frame components.  Friends told him to sell it because it obviously was going to be too much work to restore.  What he did was tear it apart and start making wooden frames using a broken down hand saw and $6 drill.  In addition he did the all the metal work and put in a V-8.

During this time Jim went on to work for Clark Equipment as Head of Inspection.  He started a side business in 1974 called Auto Wood Restoration.  After acquiring a router and a band saw Jim started appearing at swap meets offering his services to made new wood for antique cars.  His first customer asked for some of the most difficult wooden parts to make, and this was Jim’s “trial by fire”.  Having survived that test he was presented with a ’34 Chevy to work on over his vacation days and Jim was once again hooked.  He quite his job at Clark and with a partner started Auto Wood Restoration as a legit business.  They set up shop with a milling machine and other specialized equipment to painstakingly fashion better-than-original wood parts.

Street Scene magazine article featuring a car (left page) for which Jim created new wood

Auto Wood started to become known through swap meets and word-of-mouth, and work started coming into the shop.  From all over the U. S. and Canada, car bodies’ would arrive for installation work while wood kits would be made and sent out for the customers to install on their own.  Jim faced a huge learning curve because each car model and each year had its own peculiarities that could only be understood by seeing and touching the original wood components.  It was a lot of work and demanded a big commitment in time and labor.  Jim bought out his partner in a year and jumped into making wood with gusto.

Jim has since appeared at many of the top auto swap meets around the country, including Hershey and Street Rod Nationals, and is a preferred vendor of the Vintage Chevrolet Club of American’s membership magazine, “Generator & Distributor”.  He has been creating wood for antique cars longer than anyone else in the business.  Autowood Restoration is now a two-man shop that has an in-stock inventory of many of the most popular individual wood parts, and wood kits, and can custom make just about any structural wood component.  All parts are handmade from the finest white ash and guaranteed to fit and work properly.  Jim’s vast experience in all aspects of car restoration makes him uniquely qualified at steering you in the right direction when it comes to your auto wood needs, and just about anything else you need to know about auto restoration.

Jim Rodman standing in front of his shop

Jim is just a phone call away.  You’ll find a positively affable talker on the other end of the line, with a wealth of information.  Give Autowood Restoration a call at 219-797-3775 and start up an interesting conversation about your auto wood needs.