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Stockbridge man owns
GSRA Car of the Year


By Monroe Roark
Times Correspondent 

  A classic car enthusiast in Stockbridge has been recognized by a statewide organization for his painstaking work in the restoration of one of his prized automobiles.

  George Thompson’s 1940 Ford was named Car of the Year by the Georgia Street Rod Association, a group of about 1,000 members from across the state. With the help of his friend, David Eidson, Thompson spent two years working on the car to get it to its present state.

George Thompson stands next to his 1940 Ford that was named Car of the Year by the Georgia Street Rod Association. Thompson spent two years restoring the car.

Photo by Monroe Roark

  At each monthly GSRA meeting, the attendees vote on the Car of the Month from among the cars present at that meeting. Thompson’s car was voted Car of the Month at a Wounded Warriors event hosted by Summit in McDonough in June.

The group has an annual picnic at Indian Springs, where the Car of the Year is selected. Every Car of the Month winner present with his car at that meeting is eligible for Car of the Year.

  Thompson, 63, is retired from the Georgia Army National Guard where he did electronics repair. He has been interested in cars since he was about 12 years old but did not start working on them like this until around 1980. The very first car he built was a 1955 Chevrolet.

  The 1940 Ford was purchased after he met the owner at the annual Street Car Nationals in Louisville. The car was in Knoxville, so after driving up one weekend to check it out, he agreed to buy it and went back the next weekend to get it. “We had to go to three different locations to get all of the parts,” he said.

  It was a restoration job already in progress, but the previous owner had not gotten very far.

  “It had a rough body,” said Thompson. “We did all of the chassis fabrication, built the transmission, did all of the engine work, all of the body and paint.”

  For the interior, he and Eidson went so far as to find an old sewing machine on Craigslist and used it to make the door panels.

  Thompson bought a ready-made headliner but it didn’t fit. He found a man in Hampton who does similar work and eventually paid him to put in a headliner. That craftsman did such a good job that he was retained to do the seats as well.

“It was just about every day,” Thompson said of the two-year work schedule on the restoration. “Some Saturdays we didn’t work, some we did. We worked pretty much 8:30 to 5, just like a normal workday.”

  Multiply that by two men, and it comes out to thousands of hours of meticulous work that involves a number of skills, including welding.

  Parts are obtained from a variety of sources, including Summit in McDonough, where Thompson admits he has dropped “a lot of dollars” over the years. The parts store hosts a car event nearly every Monday and many more on weekends, and its hospitality to various car clubs is a win-win for the car enthusiasts as well as the retailer.

  The majority of the work on the Ford was finished about a year ago, and its first public appearance was at the Moonshine Festival. “I hadn’t really had it on the road before then, but it made it just fine,” said Thompson.

  Cars such as these are mostly driven only to shows. Because of this, tag fees and insurance are very reasonable.

  This is not the only notable vehicle Thompson has. A 1934 Chevrolet he previously restored has also garnered considerable notice from fellow enthusiasts, and one offered him $65,000 for it a few years ago. He turned that offer down because at the time it was the only such car he had.

  Now his attention is focused on the Mercury that sits in his garage. He expects another two years of work before it is completed – a lot of cutting and modifying, as he put it. This car will ride about five inches from the ground when it is finished.

  “The more modifications you have, the more time-consuming it is,” he acknowledged. “We just do some research, and find someone else who has done it before and ask for tips. There is a lot of trial and error involved.”

  For men like Thompson and Eidson, the finished product is worth every hour and dollar spent. Regardless of one’s affinity for classic cars, however, there is no denying that the results are visually stunning.



©Henry County Times, Inc.