“I never have any days where I’m worried about getting up or not going to work and enjoying what I do,” says fabricator, restorer, and coachbuilder Austin Paruch. “Life and work are one and the same. This is what I do. This is what I was intended to do, I believe.”
At Paruch Automotive Craftsmanship, vintage cars come to life again. Paruch is well-known in the Baileigh community for his impressive builds and his world-class English wheel instruction at our fully-booked metalworking classes.
“I’ve been a wheel guy for most of my automotive career,” Paruch explains. “I spent more time wheeling than I did running a hammer, even though I have both.”
Paruch’s journey to fabrication fame began when he decided to return to school. After doing odd jobs and working in construction, he wanted to study automotive restoration. His teachers quickly spotted talent and gave him the opportunity to hone his skills at a Rolls Royce shop. From there, Paruch expanded his abilities at a Ferrari shop.
“When I was working at the Ferrari shop I got connected with Baileigh,” Paruch recalls. “And shortly thereafter I started my business and I started to do classes with Baileigh teaching English wheel usage. So I’ve been friends with a lot of the guys at Baileigh for a number of years now.”
When Paruch launched his own shop, Baileigh equipment was there from the beginning. “I kind of started in one side of my two-car garage. I had a welder, I had a hand-fabricated English wheel, and I had a Baileigh planishing hammer.”
Now Paruch operates out of a much larger space with an arsenal of vintage and modern machines. “Not a huge shop but we get a lot of stuff done,” Paruch says modestly.
On display is a 1950s Excalibur race car, serving as a model for a build. “They built three. Two still exist and we’re building the third back to its original, with the original parts,” explains Paruch.
Paruch also shows off a personal project that he’s “super excited about.” The Strada Americana is a “hand-built, coach-built, vintage inspired… streetable race car. Aluminum body, tubular chassis inspired by some of the work that I’ve done with vintage race cars.”
When it comes to tools, Paruch notes, “you got to have a little bit of everything in order to make it work.” His shop proudly uses vintage equipment like a Monarch lathe and a massive Yoder hammer, purchased from an aircraft hangar.
Among those legacy tools, Baileigh equipment also contributes to Paruch’s high-end results. The shop relies on a Baileigh English wheel, planishing hammer, and brake.
His team uses their Baileigh rotary draw tube bender “for building roll bars and chassis and and everything. Obviously my car was built with this,” he says. “We don’t use it every day…. We’re not an off-road chassis shop, but we do plenty of roll bars.”
The MSS-16F Shrinker Stretcher is a favorite among the crew. “Honestly, it’s one of the most used tools in the shop. You know, little tunes here on an edge or shrinking channels and it just works flawlessly every time.”
As Paruch summarizes, “All the tools I buy are designed to increase the speed and efficiency and accuracy of the work that I do. So the tools that I have from Baileigh, they help me do that.”
Reflecting on his impact, Paruch is proud that his creations have the potential to speak to a wide audience. “The cars go beyond the customers. The cars are seen by kids and families and everybody who visits car shows. And to me you’re building that experience, beyond just building the cars.”