For the Love of Cars

Gary and Gwen Krukoski of Maple Grove share their restored classic cars at events throughout the Metro.

The challenge of turning a pile of parts into an award-winning car is thrilling for Gary Krukoski. His love of restoring cars has led to participation in the 10,000 Lakes Concours d’Elegance which draws collectors of cars, boats and motorcycles to the annual event. It’s a chance for owners to admire one another’s collectibles and Maple Grove resident Krukoski has had the chance to participate twice.

Now in its sixth year, the Concours d’Elegance features over 100 different restored vehicles. Pristine American and foreign pre- and post-war cars shine brightly on display. Attendees can peruse classic cars ranging from a 1929 Chrysler Series, a 1937 La Salle Sport Coupe or 1957 Chevrolet BelAir Convertible and many more.
Krukoski bought his very first MG after graduating as an aircraft mechanic. “But at the time there weren’t many jobs in aviation,” he says. He teamed up with a couple friends to run a small import car repair service. “We did that for about a year. Once I got a job at Northwest Airlines I left that business,” he says. But, that repair business is where he got his first exposure to import cars. At the age of 50, when his kids were out of college, the serious process of restoration started for Krukoski. “And from there it’s just kind of multiplied,” he says.

Krukoski is in the process of restoring five classic cars: a 1931 MG D Type, a 1933 MG J2, a 1950 MG TD Driver, a 1952 MG TD and a 1958 MGA. A 1969 MGB Roadster is next on his list. In 2015, he entered his 1933 MG J2 in the 2015 Concours D’elegance which won an award for “Best in Class.”

Krukoski finds his restoration projects all over the U.S. “I bought one in Indiana, I bought one in St. Louis, I got three out of Des Moines and then several locally,” he says. “It’s the older ones that you sometimes have to go a distance to find ... but I’ve bought parts for them from all over the world.”

The time it takes to restore a car depends on the condition it’s in when purchased. “The J2 took me about two years of pretty constant work to put it back together from the bottom up,” Krukoski says. “Every single nut and bolt came apart; everything was cleaned, sandblasted, painted and repaired.”

His latest undertaking is a 1931 D Type, which he says has been his most challenging restoration so far. Krukoski found the task especially worth the challenge because the model is so hard to find. “It’s a very rare car and they only made 250 of them because the engine was somewhat underpowered for the car and it just didn’t sell,” he says. “There’s only four of them in the U.S.”

The car collector is also involved in two different organizations: The North American Triple M group and the T Registry. “There’s about a half dozen of us that live in the Twin Cities,” Krukoski says of the Triple M group. “And the rest of the people are all over the whole country.”

A half dozen car collectors, members of the The North American Triple M group, live in the Twin Cities and meet once a week for lunch. They also attend 15 or more events during the driving season. “If someone’s in need of help fixing something, there’s always somebody there to give them a hand,” Krukoski says of the tight-knit group.

Gary’s wife Gwen also attends the car shows and is involved in the car community. “I enjoy the problem-solving process of bringing a car to the finished original state,” she explains. “Finding the correct parts is very time consuming and at the same time rewarding because having an original part on these old cars is finding the pot of gold.”

“Besides [being] painful to my checkbook,” Gwen says, “I do enjoy seeing Gary’s skills put to use in taking a car that would basically be on a scrap pile and turned into an award-winning car. I do have to say I have become very knowledgeable on vintage car restoration.”

Part of the fun of restoration is seeing the car rebuilt and sporting a brand new coat of paint. And once a car is finally finished, “you start the engine up and take it out for the first run,” Krukoski says. “That’s your celebration, the first time it’s out on the road.”

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