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Durham College students gain hands-on experience building roadster from scratch

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WATCH ABOVE: Automotive students at Durham College took a different turn recently where instead of being asked to fix a car, they were challenged to build one from scratch. It’s called a ‘Kit Car’, giving the students the hands-on experience they can use in the workforce. Aaron Streck has the story – Feb 4, 2019

Automotive students at Durham College took a different turn recently where instead of being asked to fix a car, they were challenged to build one from scratch.

This particular ‘Kit Car,’ as they are called, is not your everyday vehicle.

“It has a five-litre, 32-valve overhead camshaft with variable timing, producing about 410 horsepower,” said Thomas Armenis, a Durham College student.

Modelled after a 1965 Shelby Cobra, it is road-ready but by looking at the finished product, you wouldn’t know that it was put together from a kit that started out as 25 boxes of parts in 2017.

“There were some long days and there were some really great days and the big thing for me is I love seeing a plan come together,” said student Dan Holwell.

“It’s all in place. It’s all perfect. Everything’s measured, every rivet underneath the body you can’t see anyway, is perfectly lined up,” said Armenis.

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“When the car comes here, it’s in a big crate. They have to unpack it, they have to inventory it; every nut and bolt and washer that goes on that vehicle. So it’s a monumental task just finding all the pieces and identifying them,” said Ralph Ruffo, Durham College Motive Power Programs coordinator and professor.

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It took 60 students in the automotive technician service and management program countless hours over three semesters to complete.

“I come to this college and I’m building my dream car, as a kid. It doesn’t get any better than that,” said Armenis.

For Armenis, the skills he learned working on the car he can apply in the workforce.

“This gave me a lot of hands-on experience and more than that, it’s confidence to move forward after post-secondary,” said Armenis.

“When you’re in steering, suspension and brakes, you’re working on those components on the vehicle as well so they’re seeing a real-world experience put in front of them, said Ruffo. “These cars are Kit Cars but they don’t go together very easily.”

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The Factory Five Racing MK4 roadster is the second Kit Car build at Durham College. A couple of years ago, a 1933 Hot Rod was the first and now students are starting on a third.

When building the Kit Cars, there’s a lot of attention to detail.

“If one panel ends up out of place, they all end up out of place and then you have to go back and fix it all,” said Holwell.

The college is hoping to take the Kit Car for a spin at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park in Clarington once the snow melts.

But the overall goal is to sell all three to fund future projects.

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