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Kingsville tech students build dragster from scratch, enter in Detroit Autorama

Gord Osborne, the transportation technology teacher at Kingsville District High School, was a "motorhead" when he was a kid.

The car is entered in the Detroit Autorama, March 1, 2 and 3

Kingsville District High School students worked on Dragula 2.0 for a year and a half. It heads to the Detroit Autorama March 1. (Dale Molnar/CBC)

Gord Osborne, the transportation technology teacher at Kingsville District High School, was a "motorhead" when he was a kid. 

"I was a big Munsters fan and Grandpa Munster built this Dragula car," said Osborne.

He wanted to see if his tech students could recreate the 1960s dragster.

"Years later, as a tech teacher, I thought that with the talent we have coming through our programs here, I thought I wonder if they'd be interested in trying to build this car as a project."

The students were on board. They started with just a taped-out floor model and chalkboard drawings in September of 2017 and went from there.

Adam Ayotte, a KDHS student, describes the process of putting the car together. (Dale Molnar/CBC)

Adam Ayotte is a Grade 12 student who started working on the project this fall. 

"It's looking really good now," said Ayotte, who worked mostly on the exhaust manifold. "It really shows other schools what they might be able to do if they have good shop teachers in the shops and teach kids how to do this kind of stuff."

Chris Buckley graduated from KDHS last year and is now working as a truck mechanic. His apprenticeship placement allowed him to assist with the welding for the dragster. 

"It's come a long way since I graduated," said Buckley. "I never thought we'd get it this far."

Colton Reiss, a KDHS student, shows off the spiderweb grill he had a hand in making. (Dale Molnar/CBC)

Colton Riess is in Grade 11 and worked on the "crazy-looking grill," along with some framework. 

"It took awhile to make, about two and a half weeks," said Riess. "I never thought it would go from what it started as to this."

The project took three semesters of "pretty steady work" and mimics the Dragula from the 60s television show. Osborne and the students took this one to the next level and created version 2.0.

WATCH Gord Osborne show off Dragula 2.0:

KDHS takes dragster built from scratch to Autorama 1:42

"We used a coffin instead of a casket, glass headlights," said Osborne. Everything is made out of metal and a few community partners helped with the parts students couldn't handle, including the decorative wrap, bodywork and interior. 

"We basically made it like a real coffin," said Osborne, showing CBC News the structure of the vehicle. Students 3D printed components, wired the electrical and manufactured all the parts.

Funding for Dragula

Most of the parts were donated, which kept the cost down to under $10,000. 

"My wife and I decided to fund this," said Osborne. "We both love cars and thought it would be a great project."

Osborne described it as a "win-win" and didn't hesitate to take on the funding. He wanted to see what the students could do with their talents. 

Tech teacher Gord Osborne with Dragula 2.0, the KDHS entry for the Detroit Autorama. (Dale Molnar/CBC)

"I want to show off what tech students can do," said Osborne. "I want to show it off around the community."

The car is headed to Autorama in Detroit the first weekend of March. Osborne said it's the first time a Canadian team has entered.

Autorama is a custom car show that tours the U.S. and takes over the Cobo Center March 1, 2 and 3.

"I think this car has a lot of wow factor," said Osborne. He's hoping showing what tech students can do will get more funding into tech programs.

"That's the goal of this car, to show what we can do with tech students."

With files from Dale Molnar

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