Top Gun recognized for superior bodywork

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Top Gun Collision Center of Garnavillo was recently recognized for their superior bodywork on a 1953 Maverick Sportster. The vehicle, owned by Tom Chandler of Elkader, earned Best of Show for an owner-restored vehicle at the Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance in Florida. (Photo submitted)

By Caroline Rosacker 

Top Gun Collision Center, located at 607 South Main Street, Garnavillo, was recently recognized for their superior bodywork on a 1953 Maverick Sportster. 

Owner Bob Bodish, who has been in the vehicle restoration business for the past 38 years and 18 at his current location, shared the vehicle's history. "The Maverick Sportster is owned by Tom Chandler of Elkader," said Bodish. "He was invited to compete in the Amelia Island Concours d'Elegance in Florida. The event is among the top automotive events in the world. Tom's Maverick earned Best of Show for an owner-restored vehicle."

Each year "The Amelia" draws more than 300 rare vehicles from collectors across the globe. "The cars invited to participate are museum pieces," noted Bodish. "It's unbelievable the cars that were there."

Chandler's first time entry drew plenty of admirers. "Tom worked on the Maverick Sportster for about seven years," Bodish commented. "He did an amazing job. He handmade all the polished aluminum from scratch. We worked with Tom to rebuild several of the poorly-designed areas of the body."

The Maverick Sportster was designed and built by engineer Sterling Gladwin. Only seven fiberglass, boat-tail speedster Mavericks was built between 1952 - 1968.  An additional unspecified number of body shells were also built before the project was closed down due to lack of funding. "Fiberglass, similar to plastic, was a fairly new product when the car was designed and built," Bodish explained. "Tom's car is only the second one of the original seven that has been restored. The designer's grandson restored the other vehicle. It took us about two months to complete the project. We were dealing with a pretty rare piece."

Bodish, and his wife, Susan, attended the prestigious classic car show. "The fact that Tom chose us to restore his vehicle was an honor," Bodish said with gratitude. "It was a real privilege to work on his car. The polished aluminum and woodwork on the vehicle were made from scratch. People couldn't believe it was a fiberglass body. Nobody ever guessed it was all homemade until they stopped and visited with Tom."  

Bodish's work is well-known throughout the vehicle restoration business. "One truck was one of 12 from across the nation to be featured in Dupont's national calendar," shared Bodish. "I had a 1949 Chevy truck win a spot in LKQ's calendar and a '72 Challenger was on the World of Wheels promotional flier. I earned Outstanding Paint Job four out of five years in a row for my custom-painted motorcycles at World of Wheels held in the St. Paul Civic Center. The year I didn't win — I didn't have a bike to enter." 

"It was pretty cool the day they came and photographed my award-winning truck," Bodish commented. "They set up a photo studio with a shadow box and computer, and spent the day taking pictures. I was pretty proud."

Bodish was recognized as the 2009 Friend of Education for the Clayton Ridge School district for painting the school's large eagle signage. He is also a volunteer fireman/EMT, and served 15 years on the Garnavillo city council. 

Chandler was impressed with Bodish's dedication. "Bob did a terrific job finishing up the bodywork and paint," Chandler told The Press. "I was especially impressed that he and his wife attended the show. It is very unusual for someone in the restoration field to attend an event their work is featured in. It was quite an effort on their part."

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