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The PA Bunch: Driving through life in style

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Christina Russo
  • 910th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

Note: This is the third feature in a series introducing the team members of the 910th Airlift Wing's Public Affairs office. 

To understand Senior Airman Noah Tancer, a public affairs specialist with the 910th Airlift Wing, you must first understand the love he has for his car, a 1949 Plymouth.

Tancer’s love for classic things began when he repeated kindergarten and was sent to speech therapy. While spending a better part of grade school in speech classes, Tancer learned how to speak with a British accent. Using the British accent as a means to accelerate in the class, Tancer ended up falling in love with classic things and British culture in particular.

Fast forward to his senior year of high school, Tancer was visiting his grandfather and noticed a ‘49 Plymouth in the neighbor’s yard. Tancer knew there had to be a reason it was there.

“When I saw it in the yard, I took it as a sign and saw it as my remodel,” said Tancer.

Tancer explains he was not looking for such a project but knew he had to have the Plymouth.

After negotiating with the neighbor, Tancer purchased the car for $1,000.

“Up until that point, that was the most expensive car I had ever bought,” said Tancer.

Knowing the car would be a definite fixer-upper, Tancer did not shy away from the project for the sole reason he had purchased it—there was a direct link to his love for British culture.

Produced by Chrysler Corporation, the Plymouth was first introduced in the states on July 7, 1928. It was considered to be a marque of automobiles and quickly gained popularity in the U.K. during the early ‘40s when Chrysler opened a factory outside London producing Plymouths.

Over the years, compact vehicles began to be referred to as “panda cars” in the U.K. and during the late ‘40s a Plymouth was considered to be just that.

“Back in the day, a ‘49 used to be a panda car over in the U.K.,” said Tancer.

Although considered to be a compact vehicle, Tancer saw it as so much more. He saw the car as one that needed a specific owner to breathe life back into it while still appreciating its past. Tancer knew he was the right guy for the job but also knew he would have to enlist the help of some family members to assist in bringing the Plymouth back to life.

“My family has a long history with cars,” said Tancer. “My grandfather has three classic vehicles and is restoring a fourth. My dad has two and is working on restoring his third. As for my brother Chris, he has two and wants a bunch more.”

Having assistance from his family members is what kept Tancer on track while he was away for Basic Military Training.

“My dad helped out by working on the car a little bit at a time until I got back from BMT,” said Tancer.

After returning home from BMT, Tancer realized if he wanted to continue the restoration prior to leaving for technical school, he would have to seek out more parts for the car.

“I came back from BMT and did my split training,” said Tancer. “During my split training I bought a ‘51 Plymouth for pieces for the ‘49.”

When the time came to put the restoration on hiatus for technical school, Tancer knew he would have to really devote the necessary time toward completing the project when he returned home.

“Once I got back from tech school I sat down with my family and we really got going with the restoration,” said Tancer.

When the time came for Tancer to choose a color to paint the car, he decided to go with a color a previous owner had once painted the Plymouth.

“The color choice came from sanding down the ‘49 body,” said Tancer. “The ‘49 body looked like it had years and years of paint repainted over each layer. After spending hours of sanding through the layers, I saw this nice teal color appear. I liked it so much that I decided to keep the color.”

Once painted, Tancer said the Plymouth was absolutely beautiful and that there’s no better sight than when you see your car painted for the first time.

Looking back on the more than three-year restoration process, Tancer expressed his appreciation for his dad and brother, for without them the project would have been a whole lot of trial and error. Although his family assisted with the hands-on aspects of the restoration, Tancer said it was the military that gave him the financial ability to take on such a project.

“It was the military that essentially paid for the project,” said Tancer. “I would take my military paychecks and use them toward fixing up the Plymouth.”

In the almost four years it took to complete the restoration, the Plymouth wasn’t the only thing to have gone through a transformation, Tancer did too. He went from being a brand new high school graduate to becoming a Senior Airman in the USAFR, and although the military pulled him away from the project more than once, Tancer doesn’t regret his decision to enlist.

As a Reserve Citizen Airman, Tancer appreciates his dedication toward the project all the more because of the transformation he went through during his military training. He takes pride in his Plymouth and enjoys being able to show off his hard work by taking it out for a spin when the weather is nice.

“I absolutely love it,” said Tancer. “It rides like a charm.”

Whether driving it to work or around town for fun, Tancer is constantly being stopped by individuals to chat about his Plymouth.

“Sometimes it happens when I don’t have time to talk, but I will always take a few moments to share my love for the car with them,” said Tancer.

In the end, Tancer’s need to repeat kindergarten and spend many years in speech therapy might have started out as a nightmare but eventually led to a lifelong love of classic things. It led to his love of British culture and ultimately his love for a ‘49 Plymouth which he now uses to drive through life in style.