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Justin Wigfield has auto design in mind

April 23, 2000|By JULIE E. GREENE

Editor's note: This is the eighth in a series profiling nine members of the class of 2000. The Herald-Mail has been following the students since they were kindergartners at Conococheague Elementary School in 1988. The profiles will appear on the last Monday of each month through May.




As a kindergartner Justin Wigfield loved to take apart old radios, clocks and phones.

As the Clear Spring High School senior approaches graduation this spring he's still taking things apart, but this time he's putting them back together with thoughts of a career in mind.

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Wigfield, 17, loves restoring cars and wants one day to design car parts.

He began restoring automobiles two years ago when he got his driver's license.

His parents said Wigfield could have his dad's 1977 Dodge van, if he fixed it up. The van, sitting in the family's Huyett Lane yard with four flat tires and mice inside, needed body work and the engine had to be rebuilt.

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Without taking any automotive classes Wigfield fixed up the old van, learning what he needed from reading automotive magazines and from his father, Lowell, who shares his love of restoring vehicles.

"They've always worked together," said Wigfield's mother, Terri Wigfield.

They also share a love of carpentry.

Last summer, Justin, the eldest of the Wigfield's five children, worked full-time with his father renovating a home in Washington, D.C.'s affluent Georgetown section.

Father and son spend time in the family's garage as often as they can, working on each other's vehicles, Terri Wigfield said.

Now Wigfield is finishing up work on a 1974 Plymouth Duster, which he bought for $200 last July.

"I took the stock stuff out," Wigfield said.

He has repainted it red after replacing the six-cylinder motor with a used V8 engine he bought from a man in Pennsylvania.

Wigfield pays for auto insurance and the auto parts he needs by working four nights a week and occasional Saturdays for Direct Mail Processors Inc., storing paperwork at the firm's Eastern Boulevard building. The rest of his earnings are saved for college.

"He's always been pretty responsible and mature for his age," Terri Wigfield said.

Wigfield plans to attend Hagerstown Community College for two years to study engineering technology before transferring to a four-year college.

Wigfield stays in touch with some of his kindergarten classmates but is kept busy with school work, his job and his car, which he washes about twice a week, his mother said.

He is a member of the student council and has been an altar server at St. Mary's Catholic Church in Hagerstown since the fifth grade.

This year Wigfield is taking advanced-placement calculus and biology, Certificate of Merit English, computer programming, weightlifting and independent-study art.

Wigfield's love for cars carries over into his art.

After finishing a multilayered glass etching of a car, Wigfield has been working on an oil painting of an antique car, said Clear Spring art teacher Milt Hays.

"Justin's a very good student. He works very diligently," Hays said.

Wigfield said he's enjoyed the freedom the independent study has provided, allowing him to work on projects more to his liking. Some of his works have been displayed at the Valley Mall.

Wigfield said he hopes to put his artistic skills to work not only designing car parts, but to be part of a team to design a new car.

Of course he wants to design the car for Dodge.

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