Paul Geivett got a D in shop class at William Chrisman High School because, instead of the project his teacher assigned, he built a gas-powered model of the Boyle Special Maserati that won the Indianapolis 500 in 1939.
By TOM STRONGMAN
The model is amazing in its detail, but Geivett still was marked down. He smiles broadly as he tells that story, and 71 years later that model sits on a shelf in his spare bedroom.
Geivett, of Mission, will be 88 three days after Christmas. He has always worked with his hands, first as an apprentice in a machine shop while in high school, and later at Lake City Army Ammunition Plant after a stint in the Navy. Most of his career was spent at Union Machine & Tool Works.
Geivett didn’t just build cars, he raced them, too. He drove a midget at Kansas City’s now closed Olympic Stadium and several other regional tracks when he was a young man. Model making, however, has always been his first love.
Not content with his high school model of the Boyle Special, Geivett built another that has even more detail. The fiberglass body is made from a wooden mold, and it is powered by a model airplane engine that sits under the hood. The interior has tiny gauges with realistic numerals.
The front axle has torsion bars and the rear axle has elliptical leaf springs attached to the steel frame. He made the wire wheels by hand. This model is so realistic you can almost hear the echoes of the Indy crowd.
At one time, Geivett owned a 1932 Nash, and he worked on its restoration for five years before selling to someone from France. Geivett also spent five years building a one-fifth-scale model of the Nash from scratch. His Nash model is amazing in its detail. The doors have roll-up windows, the hood opens to reveal a perfectly detailed engine and the radiator shell was hand formed out of brass before it was chrome plated. The tires originally were ashtrays, and he made the wheels himself.
The Nash model is nearly three feet long and weighs about 50 pounds. For years, whenever there was a severe storm warning, Geivett and his wife would carry the model to the basement for safekeeping, but they aren’t able to do that any longer.
It’s obvious that model making is still in Geivett’s blood. His spare bedroom is lined with model cars, and a model airplane with a seven-foot wingspan hangs from the ceiling of his garage. He also built two one-fourth-scale NASCAR racers. Even though Geivett has spent much of his life creating miniature versions of real vehicles, his accomplishments are large in stature.
Tom Strongman’s e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org. To read other Gallery stories, go to tomstrongman.com.