Jack Kulbacki started doing bodywork when he was in high school, 35-years-ago.
“I just worked on cars all my life when I was a kid,” said Kulbacki.
“It’s just what you did in those days. If you wanted a car, you built it yourself.”
Kulbacki owns and runs Jack’s Auto, a repair and restoration business located near Eden.
“I started doing bodywork as part of a student initiative program in high school – we could register to get high school credits while working at a job, so I started working with Clark’s Autobody right out of high school and the work just stuck with me,” said Kulbacki.
“After that I went to work in Winnipeg for most of my life before moving out here to work at Pyramid Collision. I wanted to do something different, so I went to the hog plant in Neepawa for a while before we all got laid off one summer. Then I started up with the Self Employment program that E.I. helps with, and they helped me get my own business going. Jack’s Auto has been in business for about eight years now.”
Jack’s Auto started out doing Autopac work, but Kulbacki quickly realized that people don’t want to have to drive so far out of their way just for the same repairs people can do elsewhere.
“We already had a cheaper labour rate than most other guys, but I wanted something to make us unique,” said Kulbacki.
“So we started doing restorations last year. We’ve done quite a few, easily two dozen this year alone. If the Lilyfest Car Show was happening this year, we’d probably have at least 15 cars that we worked on being shown off.”
The most recent restoration Kulbacki worked on was the ’57 Chevy, as pictured above.
Completing this project took Kulbacki and his employee James Paromor more than 350 hours to fix up.
“The owner of the ’57 Chev had already done a bit of the welding work on it himself. If he hadn’t already started it, this car could have taken us up to 500 hours to finish, including the interior,” said Kulbacki.
“The hardest part of restoring an old vehicle like this is finding the right parts. All the parts are always coming from the states, so we have to deal with the border, shipping times, and finding the right part on the first try. We’ve had vehicles completely finished before, but we’re stuck waiting two or three weeks just for one last part to make it here.”
Some of Kulbacki’s proudest restorations include an old English ’57 Triumph TR3 and a ’52 Chevy truck.
“The TR3 was pretty special; it’s a pretty uncommon type of car around here, so it was fun to work on,” he said.
“And the ’52 Chev truck took us over 600 hours. We put it on a whole new frame; it took a lot of work and it paid off, the truck looks great now.”
While Jack’s Auto has done more than two dozen restorations in the last year, they also still do Autopac work in between projects and while waiting for parts.