No doubt we are very proud to be “Gearheads”, the kind of people who are so in love with machines that most of our family members and friends don’t quite understand us. After all, we can easily forget important stuff but still have fresh in our memory the firing order of the piece of junk we drove in High School.
Most of those stories begin with our father taking us as kids to car meetings and races or asking for help to fix that old family car. My story is no different than that.
Another story is how we manage to keep the passion alive; from the not-so-expensive habit to spend hours on car-related websites to actually buying and keeping a dream car.
Some of us even found a way to make a living in a car-related business, like working in a repair shop or in a dealership, but I believe just a few lucky ones actually work with classic cars.
Well, I’m lucky enough to have found a place to work; not only around classics but around race cars also.
Between 2008 and 2015, I had the privilege to work for Powertech, one of the most traditional speed shops in the country. It is located in my hometown, Curitiba, in southern Brazil.
Powertech was born in the early 1990s as an audio/video import company but thanks to the founder’s passion for motorsports, it quickly shifted to auto racing/performance parts import. The company’s founder, João Alexandre de Abreu, had a drag race team even before Powertech was created, and getting the shop involved in the competition was a no-brainer. The white pro-mod Ford Maverick you see in the picture above, also known as “White Shark”, is part of the drag racing history in Brazil. Despite 15 years of retirement, fans still ask when the car will return to the track.
For many years, Powertech was one of the biggest drag race teams in the country, but after our racetrack was sold to a real estate developer, João Alexandre decided to quit the races.
The shop was also involved in Brazilian Stock Car racing, preparing engines and cars not only for their own team but for some of the top teams in the country. The car you see here is a Chevrolet (Opel) Astra. Of course, it’s just a fiberglass bubble over a chrome-moly frame, powered by a 350 V8 small block Chevy and a sequential 6-speed tranny. They quit Stock Car in 2007, right before I joined the company.
Powertech is not only a shop, it is also a manufacturing plant. The company produces many different automotive performance products like Nitrous Oxide systems and the bread and butter of the company, forged pistons, and connecting rods for a variety of engines.
Alongside parts and service for motorsport, Powertech also offers a huge variety of equipment for Hot Rods and classic cars.
A Ford “Flathead” V8, equipped with the legendary “Ardun” heads.
A classic 331 Chrysler HEMI, with electronic fuel injection that looks like a vintage “Inglese” stack system.
This V12 engine was removed from a crashed 1995 Ferrari 456. The idea is to install it plus the 6-speed manual transmission into a 1939 Lincoln Zephyr coupe. Will it be a nice replacement for the original V12?
During my time working at Powertech, I also was involved in buying and selling classic cars. I have a huge collection of pictures of those cars and I had a hard time selecting the best ones.
1960 Impala, powered by a 400 small block Chevy.
North American readers might find it difficult to figure this one out, the car is a Brazilian-built 1961 Simca Chambord. Simca was a French brand linked with Ford and then Chrysler. If you want to know more about the Chambord, click here:
1936 Ford convertible, powered by a 302 Ford small block V8, 1931 Ford Tudor powered by a Chevy 4 cylinder “Iron Duck”, and the “White Shark”, currently with no engine.
The boss is a fanatic about Cords, at some point he owned 8. This is a 1937 model.
Ford GT 40 replica
This 1947 Harley Davidson had been sitting for ages when the boss bought it. The engine had nothing but good compression, no electrical system, no clutch, no carburetor, no brakes…
The team put the old lady running properly in less than 2 weeks for an annual Hot Rod meeting in 2014.
These two Cords were bought to be “parts donors”, but the four-door is too nice to be dismantled. On other hand the convertible is doomed; the car was converted as RWD back in the 60s with an Oldsmobile V8 powertrain.
A Porsche 911 “Slant Nose”. To be honest with you, I don’t remember the year of this car.
This is a 1934 Ford Victoria. All the fenders are brand new and the top is already chopped. A very nice project; if I had the money, I would have bought it.
This 1937 Studebaker Coupe will receive a Viper V10 engine.
1937 Willys Coupe. As you can see, it is “all metal”.
A 1974 Jaguar XJ 12. It’s a little beaten up but it is running fine.
My job title at Powertech was “parts advisor”, but in this kind of business is just natural to embrace more than one position.
When an important Classic Car Meeting or a Drag Race is coming up soon, usually the hell breaks loose. Working late hours to make the cars ready, getting hotel reservations, paying fees, loading and unloading the truck, and then traveling to the other side of the country, spending a week away from home.
It is a labor of love and a lot of labor.
There I am, 7 o’clock on a Sunday morning, drying the dew on this 1939 Lincoln Zephyr, during the Brazilian Southern Nats Meeting, 2015.
But, when everything goes right, we can be proud to be part of the team that got the trophy. Dedication, hard work, and camaraderie can produce good results. In the picture above, the Powertech team celebrates the victory at the Top Fuel Class, Brazilian Drag Racing Festival, 2014.
That job was a real pleasure not only for allowing me to be surrounded by the stuff that I love but more importantly, to be surrounded by an extraordinary bunch of people who became my friends for life.
6 thoughts on “The Best Job of My Life.”
White Shark went from blown to NoS? Pro Mod is huge in Europe, nitro is fun but Pro Mod is my favourite class. The different body styles we have over here is amazing check out these https://blhphotoblog.wordpress.com/drag-racing-machines-classes/crazy-pro-mods/
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During its career, the White Shark had a few different engine setups. I only saw the car in action as a Pro Mod, in the early 1990s, powered by a very unusual engine, a blown 460 big block Ford. While most of the Alexandre’s drag cars were brought from the USA, that Maverick was totally built in Brazil. The car is 99% metal, if I remember well, only the hood is fiberglass.
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I checked the post, you are absolutely right, the cars are amazing. My favorite is the 57 Thunderbird.
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It was mine too. Sadly the owner/driver has retired at the end of this season and the whole operation is up for sale.
Wow. So much to comment on there. I can’t wait to find out more about the Lincoln Zephyr V12 swap! I love the Maverick (I had a 72 Grabber for the street) and it must have been awesome working on a TF dragster.
And I love the title of the post. My best job was working at a Van Iderstine Speed Shop (hot rod and race car parts) in New Jersey in the mid 70s. I got to open the shop up in the mornings and would go next door for a bagel breakfast and take it back and sit in our custom van (it was the 70s after all) section in the custom bucket seats and turn on the stereo we had displayed. But the best was searching through all the paper catalogs (LOTS of paper catalogs) for the right part for our customer’s hot rods.
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Your best job sounds awesome, do you have pictures of the shop? An American speed shop in the mid-70s?!?!? That sounds like paradise on earth!!!!