Get Adobe Flash player

Steel mill workers restoring 1970 VW Beetle for dying co-worker – Chicago Sun

Sun-Times Media

February 24, 2012 2:27PM

Jeremy Bryant, center, and Ed Warren apply paint to the underside of a new frame while Matt Ard, at left, works on the front axle of a 1970 VW Beetle being restored at Deviant Designs and Fabrication in Wheeler Monday Feb. 20, 2012. The restoration job is being done for Bryant’s coworker who owns the car and always dreamed of having it redone. The worker was recently diagnosed with terminal cancer. | Andy Lavalley~Sun-Times Media | Andy Lavalley~Sun-Times Media

Article Extras

Updated: February 24, 2012 11:54PM

When the guys in the 14 Blast Furnace department at the U.S. Steel mill in Gary heard that co-worker Fred Nowlin was diagnosed with terminal bone cancer, they put their collective pedal to the metal.

Nowlin, you see, had already beat cancer once in his life and his wife bought him a fixer-upper 1970 Volkswagen Beetle as a gift for doing so.

The Gary man became infatuated with the neglected Love Bug, and he always dreamed of restoring it someday.

“Like a golfer loves his favorite putter,” co-worker Brian Manning explained.

“Whenever Fred talked about it, his eyes would light up like a kid on Christmas Day,” co-worker Jeremy Bryant said.

“Someday” came and went, day after day, month after month, year after year, with not much being done. The Beetle needed pretty much everything, held together by promise and prayers.

“This car is in dire need of repair,” Manning said last week.

“It was completely torn apart,” Bryant added.

Manning, Bryant and others joined forces to restore the Beetle for Nowlin, who will be receiving hospice care at some point. They hope to have it done in time for Nowlin to take it for a drive, possibly as early as next month.

“We wanted to finish this car to help him realize an important goal of his before it was too late,” Manning said. “It’s our version of a Make-a-Wish Foundation.”

“But I feel we are on borrowed time,” he said. “Every day is one less day for Fred to drive this car.”

Bryant co-owns Deviant Design and Fabrication in Wheeler, Ind., where the Beetle is parked during its metamorphosis. He’s donating his labor, and others are donating money or parts to the cause.

“Beetle fans are coming out of the woodwork to help us,” he said.

The guys figure it will cost $2,500 for parts alone to finish the job, and they’re collecting donations to do so. They re looking for donated mechanical help, too, along with donated parts, such as brake lines, steering components and other outdated items.

“Maybe someone has one of these cars lying around and they could donate its parts,” Manning said.

To help restore Nowlin’s beloved Beetle, contact Bryant at or (219) 241-3796.

Article source: