For the love of restoring cars: AF resident surgeon by day, grease monkey by night - Ahwatukee Foothills News: Arts & Life

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For the love of restoring cars: AF resident surgeon by day, grease monkey by night

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Posted: Tuesday, March 12, 2013 12:49 pm

Walking into an automotive garage on McDowell Road filled with scrap metal and rusted auto parts, in the center is a beautiful mint-green 1932 Ford sedan.

Its interior glimmering white with green trim matching its exterior, while the engine roars it’s blowing black smog from its front organ-like pipes.

With its engine organs displayed to see because it has no front cover, Ahwatukee Foothills resident Dr. Richard Shindell, 62, has been restoring the classic automobile for the last four years.

By day a pediatric orthopedic surgeon with OrthoArizona, Shindell has been getting his hands dirty since his high school days building and fixing cars.

When he began practicing he took a hiatus from building and restoring cars, but hasn’t forgotten the fundamentals when operating on his mechanical patients.

Through the years, Shindell has used his grease monkey skills to build other cars from the ground up like a 1955 Chevy, ‘60s Corvette, and a trailer that he says takes too much space in the shop.

His latest project, the Ford sedan, began when he purchased the body of the car on eBay, and other parts he needed at local yard sales and swap meets.

“There was a Ford drag called the Orange Crate during the ‘60s that everyone loved, so that’s why I wanted a two-door sedan,” Shindell said. “I put the radiator in the back seat so it looked more like a drag car because that’s how they looked back then.”

He enjoys working on his cars because it gives him the opportunity to hang around his buddies while doing what he loves.

While building these machines, Shindell likes to use unorthodox styles towards his creations.

He said that he wants one point of focus that’s different than what the standard is.

“I wanted to make the car more reminiscence of the ‘60s, so I chose to paint it green because it was kind of a ‘60s color,” Shindell said. “I have friends that have been doing this type of work all their lives, so I pretty much hang around with the right people.”

Other than getting stared at red lights by other drivers, Shindell’s 1932 Ford sedan had head turns at the 2013 Grand National Roadster Show in Los Angeles, being honored as the best traditional home built car at the show and winning second place.

It was the first time that the mad scientist had taken any of his creations to a national show.

“It was nice to take the car out to a national event and be able to place second in my category next to professional builders,” Shindell said. “There is a whole community of people building cars, and there is nice work being done here in Phoenix.”

Shindell said that his day job and night hobby are two different worlds, but working on his cars gives interesting conversations with his patient families.

Being that Shindell is an orthopedic surgeon, his busy schedule refrains him to live at the shop to work on his cars.

However, he tries to find openings during his busy week between surgeries, and his weekends are usually spent at the garage.

Shindell has future plans to recreate a particular model that he built at 12 years old, when he was learning about the art of working on these fine machines.

“It’s kind of fun to be able to say that you made that, and people are impressed with it.”

• Daniel Ochoa is a senior at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University. He is interning this semester for the AFN.

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