Sometimes, life isn't fair. Sometimes, people are taken from us too soon. Sometimes, those people leave behind unfinished projects in order to protect this country, and are never given an opportunity to come home and finish what they started.
The unvailing of Major Jeffrey Calero's Pontiac GTO that was finshed by Paul's Rods and Restos
Paul DiMauro is tired of life not being fair, and he's set out to make sure unfinished business gets finished.
The owner of Paul's Rods and Restos decided enough was enough and he wanted to do something about it. When DiMauro learned the story of Major Jeffrey Calero, a member of the 1st Battalion 20th Special Forces Group of the National Guard, who died in Afghanistan in 2007 while on patrol, he decided he was going to help finish the job.
Prior to his deployment, Calero had purchased a 1970 Pontiac GTO and was in the process of restoring it. He dreamed of one day having a hot rod that would turn heads. However, this would never happen when he did not return from the war. So when DiMauro found out about the what had happened, he knew he couldn't let Calero's dream go unfinished.
"Having lost both my brothers to tragedy and feeling loss of loved ones, it was easy to say yes," DiMauro said. "But still, I never saw what I was committing to restore, and that I was heading into the unknown."
"We restore cars only one way, so there were no short cuts here…What an unbelievable journey throughout the build."
DiMauro received contributions from 37 different companies and organizations. In addition, he and his crew also spent countless hours restoring the car on top of the time spent during regular business hours helping out customers. DiMauro said that on top of the businesses that donated, several of his customers made contributions to the project when they would see the car in the shop.
The list of companies donating is staggering, and includes powerhouses from inside the automotive world and out: K&N Filters, Pepsi, Edelbrock, 3M, Pepboys and PPG are just a few names that stand out on the list.
Ultimately, the hardest part of the restoration wasn't the time, it wasn't finding parts or even a difficult part of the car to fix; rather, the hardest part of the renovation came when the car was finished.
"Not being able to see Jeff enjoy the car for himself," DiMauro said. "But seeing the satisfaction through his family was a feeling I can't describe." DiMauro was beaming with happiness when asked if he thought the car appropriately remembers Major Calero.
"Definitely!" DiMauro said with exuberance. "I love our design on the two-toned and the way she sits on those eighteen inch rims, but the artwork on the hood is amazing, symbolizing Major Jeffrey Calero." He continued, "I am thankful I was able to do it for the family and show our gratitude for what he has done for us."DiMauro said the car is home with Calero's family. It will be used in car shows to help commemorate the military and those lost in war.
While the GTO is finished, this is just the beginning for DiMauro, who sees an opportunity to help fulfill the unfinished dreams of other fallen soldiers now. "Already in motion. We will be reaching out for stories related to fallen soldiers, wounded warriors, the rest of the military, September 11th victims, and first responders who are muscle car and street rod enthusiasts."
It's hard to envision DiMauro not completing many more dreams. Dreams that deserve to be completed.