Diego Lopez (right), a TSTC Auto Collision and Management Technology student, prepares to weld a rocker panel onto a quarter panel on a 1927 Durant touring car while Jesus Reyna, a TSTC Auto Collision instructor, observes his technique during a recent lab session.

(HARLINGEN, Texas) – Classic automobile aficionado Jesus Reyna, an instructor in the Auto Collision and Management Technology program at Texas State Technical College, has educated his students about the restoration process of vehicles for two years now.

His latest project is a 1927 Durant touring car that the students began working on last year.

“I have experience building classic hot rod cars,” Reyna said. “Since our college offers the Sheet Metal Fabrication and Structural Analysis and Damage Repair courses, it was a perfect opportunity for the students to experience building a hot rod.”

The students have recently learned about frame design.

“They are learning about the tools and skills that come with the fabrication of sheet metal and the structure of vehicles,” Reyna said. “They merged two different frames from two separate vehicles and worked on the construction of the body. The pending tasks are body work and refinishing. The students have created each part of the body panels by hand. Additionally, they have learned how the construction process starts from the beginning. The 1927 Durant touring car should be completed in about six months.”

Jorge Guevara, of Weslaco, is studying for an Associate of Applied Science degree in Auto Collision and Management Technology – Repair Specialization. He said it is great to learn from Reyna, who has 15 years of industry experience.

“I have learned that the structure of a hot rod has more precise measurements than a modern car,” Guevara said. “Each student has been able to solve a problem through Mr. Reyna’s step-by-step instruction. That involves body work such as welding, applying body filler, and measuring that leads to a good structural finish.”

Diego Lopez, of San Benito, is studying for an Associate of Applied Science degree in the same program.

“Learning about welding, fabrication and pulling a frame so it can align straight has been interesting,” he said. “I appreciate that Mr. Reyna teaches in detail because I understand it better.”

Lopez’s interest in auto body repair began in high school.

“I took two welding classes at that time,” he said. “After I graduated, I wanted to combine that knowledge with my love for restoring all types of automobiles. That led me to TSTC.”

Automotive body and related repairers can make a yearly median salary of $46,390 in Texas, according to onetonline.org. The number of these jobs in the state was expected to increase 14% from 2020 to 2030.

TSTC offers several Associate of Applied Science degrees in Auto Collision and Management Technology, as well as certificates of completion, an occupational skills achievement award and, at the Waco campus, an advanced technology certificate in Tesla Collision Repair.

For more information about TSTC, visit tstc.edu.

tstc logo