Gearing up for success

Katy O’Grady-Pyne / Journal — CHS automotive students work on the “Rustang,” a 1965 Ford Mustang convertible.

CHS automotive students learn some skills while having fun

Mark Tarbox may work in the academic world, but he learned his trade from years of hands-on experience in the automotive repair industry. Today, he shares that knowledge with 25 Clinton High School students--twice the number of students compared to last year, Tarbox’s first year of teaching.

“I didn’t come up through academia,” said Tarbox. “They hired me because I have 30 years of experience.”

Tarbox has garnered several older model vehicles with varying levels of needed repairs that now sit in the bays of the CHS automotive shop.

Requiring the most work is a 1965 Ford Mustang convertible, nicknamed “The Rustang,” that was donated to the program this year after sitting in a barn for decades. Tarbox said it will most likely be a two or more-year project for the students as they will be re-building nearly the entire vehicle.

Asked if the car is even worth fixing, Tarbox said, “that’s kind of a loaded question. It depends on who you ask. If you have a school and you’re not paying all the labor to get it fixed up and you’re sentimentally attached to it, it probably is worth it.”

When the school initially received the Mustang it had four flat tires and “we couldn’t move it. The motor is rusted up and right now we’re working on getting the motor out.”

Tarbox’s goal is to get the vehicle drivable for next year’s homecoming parade. Once the repairs are completed, Tarbox estimates the vehicle could be worth $40,00 to $50,000.

Other vehicles in need of less work but still providing experience to his students include a 1976 Chevy Corvette that Tarbox bought for $500. “It was on its way to the junkyard,” he said.

 • See the complete story with more photos in the Friday, Sept. 16 print edition of the Clinton Journal or now in the Journal E-Edition for subscribers.