Local developer’s donation to provide funding to auto restoration class students

Students, from left, Tim Martin, Robert Tranquillo, Summer Avissanyx, Nova Lumadue join Garth Richards, second from right, and Automotive Mechanics instructor Jason Spohr for a donation ceremony last month at Western Nevada College.

Courtesy Steve Yingling, Western Nevada College

Carson City developer Garth Richards’ passion as an auto collector and restorer has again touched the Automotive Mechanics program at Western Nevada College.

Richards recently donated $25,000 to the program that, in part, will enable instructor Jason Spohr to offer an auto restoration class during spring semester.

Richards previously provided a third-generation classic 1953 Cadillac convertible to the Automotive Mechanics program, helping WNC create an auto restoration class last year: Special Topics in Automotive Mechanics (AUTO 198).


Part of Richards’ donation will be used to provide funding awards to students enrolling in the auto restoration class.

Richards also owns Silver Oak Golf Course, which has hosted the annual WNC Golf for Education tournament for the past few years.

“Mr. Richards has been an important and generous partner to the college. We are very grateful for his continued support,” said WNC Foundation Executive Director Niki Gladys.

Automotive Mechanics students started restoring a 1953 Cadillac during the fall semester at Western Nevada College in Carson City.

Richards’ car collection once totaled 200 restored cars that dated back to the 1950s and 1960s when, in his eyes, Crosley, Kaiser, Frazer, Cadillac and the T-Bird were kings of the road.

Previously, Spohr’s classes restored a 1965 Ford Mustang and they began restoration work on a 1952 Willys Jeep and 1969 Chevrolet Camaro this past fall.

Spohr said that the focus of the restoration class will be to recondition the original 331-cubic-inch engine.

“This is a unique opportunity to be able to rebuild an engine that was so well-preserved with all original parts intact. … Unusual for a 65-year-old vehicle,” Spohr said. “Tasks will include performing all cylinder head work, including a three-angle valve job, and testing and assembly of all valve train components. We will be installing all bearings, oil system components, crankshaft, pistons and teaching how to take critical measurements using industry standard tools. Every part down to all nuts, bolts and washers will be individually cleaned, inspected and treated with a factory finish. This portion of the restoration is exciting since the complete overhaul of an engine is becoming an increasingly rare occurrence.”

In Special Topics in Automotive Mechanics (AUTO 198), an auto restoration class, students began work on restoring a 1953 Cadillac provided by local developer Garth Richards.

After the class completes the engine reconditioning for the 1953 Cadillac, Spohr plans to have students complete the installation of the steering and suspension components and all brake hardware and components before the arduous task of refurbishing the electrical system of the vehicle.

“The restoration of this vehicle will include tasks and skills which are taught in all the individual automotive courses we offer in order to obtain the AAS degree,” Spohr said. “Even though it is a classic vehicle, all of the skills needed to perform these tasks are very relevant to modern automobile repair. This three-unit class can be used towards the degree if a student chooses to do so.”

The Western Nevada College Foundation is a non-profit, 501(c)3 that connects the college to the community for the purpose of raising funds and developing friendships that support college strategic initiatives, projects and student scholarships.

The foundation provides academic scholarships in partnership with WNC employees, community members, corporations and private foundations.

For more information about forming your own scholarship, call the foundation office at (775) 445-3239. Students wishing to apply for scholarships can visit to begin the application process.

To learn more about joining the restoration class or WNC’s Automotive Mechanics program, contact Spohr at or 775-445-4270.

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