Cruisin' Keeps Body Shops Busy - - The News for South Mississippi

Cruisin' Keeps Body Shops Busy

"Wes is going to come by and put this new glass in," said one worker.

It was like working on a huge puzzle, with dozens of different pieces. On Friday, the crew was racing to put a freshly painted '68 Camaro back together by Monday.

"This is where the skill comes in," joked an employee.

Even though fewer vintage vehicles are participating in Cruisin' the Coast this year, customers are still keeping "Chester's Paint and Body Shop" in Harrison County busy.

"Everybody needs something, they wait until the last minute," said owner Chester Lamey. "We're all guilty of that. I got an appointment Saturday morning to get the front end aligned on this one."

Chester Lamey is also gearing up, ready to show off his pride and joy - a '39 yellow Ford Roadster.

"I was planning on debuting it last year on Cruisin' the Coast," said Lamey. "Of course, Katrina came along, messed up all our plans. So we're going to debut it this year."

A lot of classic cars won't be rolling across South Mississippi this year. For instance, a '67 Chevrolet Camaro parked in the shop was totally restored, ready for Cruisin' the Coast last year. But Hurricane Katrina came along and flooded it.

"A lot of people lost their cars. The ones that didn't lose them, if they got money, they're trying to build their houses," said Lamey. "We're still doing a few of these, but not as much as normal."

The changes won't stop the car buffs from shining up their beauties, and getting fired-up for Cruisin's come back.

"Just the thing we do every year," said Dwight Lawson. "Just to make sure we do it this year to get the coast going again."

"We look forward to it," Scott Faeser said. "I take vacation from work. All the family gets together. I bring my kids. They enjoy riding in the car."

"I'm ready," said Chester Lamey. "Let's go Cruisin."

Some auto shops are also having a hard time repairing and restoring classic cars, because of the shortage of skilled labor.

By: Trang Pham-Bui

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