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Ryan Metcalf, Valley City, saw his fully-restored car for the first time Thursday evening, after local car club Bridge City Cruisers spent more than a year restoring it as a gift to him.
The project came about in 2011 after Ryan's wife Erin asked the club to restore his 1966 Chevy Impala, which he bought from his grandfather three years ago, while he was deployed in Afghanistan with the North Dakota National Guard.
Clay Adams, a founding member of the car club said, "We always like doing different things, and this is one thing we thought the club could do to give back and say, 'thank you.'"
After many months of hard work and donations from club members and the community, Ryan finally got to see his car Thursday at 6:30 p.m. in the Bank Forward parking lot. Bridge City Cruisers members and his family presented the vehicle to him.
After seeing his car, Ryan thanked the club and said they saved about 15 years of his life by rebuilding the car.
He said, "I'm pretty excited, and I can't believe the day is actually here. It's been two years, and it just seems like it was just yesterday I came home and the car was gone."
"We hope he drives the wheels off of it," club president Terry Gortmaker said.
The club started the project in October 2011, hoping to have it complete by May 2012, when Ryan returned home after deployment. Instead, Ryan had to wait a bit, as the club just finished the car this past Sunday.
"We took the car in, basically stripped it down, went through it," Adams said. "(The car has) all new brakes, new u joints, and we had the engine rebuilt."
"We had tremendous support from the community," Adams said. In addition to the community donating money, automotive businesses donated parts, time and labor.
He said, "Car Qwest and Napa donated all the parts we needed for the engine. Dakota Engine Builders, out of Jamestown, basically rebuilt the engine at no cost labor, we just paid for the parts. Berger Auto put all new exhaust on it, no charge. Van Bruggens let us use their shop anytime we needed access to it with a hoist, which was awesome."
Eldwyn and Myron Van Bruggen, car club members, own a hobby shop in town.
Additionally, Ron Dahl, Fargo, donated a set of tires, and Kevin Tulp donated a set of original rims for the car.
Read this story in Tuesday's Times-Record.