A passion for cars drove 17-year-old Dale Bryan to enter his metallic blue, 1970 Plymouth Duster in a recent contest to find the best souped-up automobile.
Bryan, a senior at Union Grove High School, said he did not expect to win.
"I registered, praying I was not going to be beat out by deep pockets, because that's how most car shows are," he said. "You'll have somebody show up with millions of dollars, who can just write out a nice check and have their car back in a couple of weeks, finished."
However, Bryan did indeed win the competition. The North Georgia Mopar event was held Aug. 27, at Summit Racing Equipment, in McDonough.
"My class was the first competition they've ever held for people under the age of 25," said Bryan. "It's good to see that judges understand that I'm a 17-year-old, who's been working to get my car fixed."
Bryan is also considering displaying his car this weekend, at a Buggy Days event in Barnesville. He had been saving up money to restore his vehicle for about two years, while working at a Subway restaurant, in McDonough.
The car, he said, had a lot of problems when he first got it.
"It wasn't looking half as good as it does now," he said. "I put a lot of money into it, to get it to look the way that it does now."
Bryan's mother, Kim Eubanks, of McDonough, said her son has been interested in muscle cars for the last three years, and invested $7,500 into restoring the Duster for the last year. She said although he purchased the car himself, their family is not new to the vehicle.
Eubanks, 48, said her husband, Newton, owned the car previously, but sold it in Atlanta several years ago.
"A man here in McDonough bought it at auction and put it up for sale, and my son bought it," the mother said. "It's been around the world and back."
Bryan added that his car, which he named "Up-graded" to commemorate its restoration, faced stiff competition from roughly 300 other vehicles at last month's event, including a completely refurbished 1968 Dodge Charger.
"The cheapest one that sold in the last 10 years at auction, went for $70,000," he said. "I beat [the owner] by two votes."
Bryan was surprised when the popular vote, judged by others who registered for the car show, revealed him as the winner.
"There were a lot of other cars in the same class that had a lot more done to them," he said. "But, they had dumped deep pockets into their cars. People obviously respect somebody who has to work for what they get, more than somebody who just has pockets."
Mike Kuhner, also a senior at Union Grove High School, took a few minutes to look under the hood of the Duster, in the days after Bryan's win. Kuhner said he admires his friend's knowledge in the automotive realm.
"He's wise beyond his age with a car," said Kuhner, 17. "He knows a lot more than most people. It's kind of cool that he was able to pull away with this, because he deserves it."
Bryan, who received a gift certificate for winning the competition, said his days of fixing up cars are just beginning. He said he plans to restore vehicles for a living.
"I'm looking into several colleges, currently, that have automotive and body shops at which they teach," said Bryan. "It's more a passion than it is a job. I'm not getting paid to work on my own car. It's not necessarily for the money, but dedication."