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A New Tinkerer in Town: Piston Scholar Edwin Buiter Steps into the Car Restoration World

The passion that some young people have for mechanical things that turns into a love for automobiles at an early age is often hard to explain. Sometimes it just happens, and then it grows into an elevated enthusiasm for working on cars…and collecting them.

Edwin Buiter, of Ireton, Iowa, an inaugural recipient of a Piston Scholarship and a student at McPherson College, at just 20 years old, has a collection of four classic cars and proudly and happily works on each of them.

While he doesn’t have the budget of most classic car owners, he says, “cars are my passion and I make sacrifices in my life in order to own and maintain my vehicles.”

By Judy Stropus

June 14, 2022


Currently, he owns a 1989 Chevy Caprice station wagon, his daily driver, a 1966 Chevy Corvair Corsa, a 1990 Chevy C2500 work truck, a 1951 Buick Super, and a 1965 Buick Skylark.

“I bought my first car, the ’51 Buick, when I was 15, and didn’t even have a driver’s license. Since then, I’ve been buying and selling cars and parts in order to fund my passion.”

Why GM cars? “I’m not sure,” he says. “My dad’s a Ford guy. Maybe it’s because I never got his old truck. If I had, I’d probably be a Ford guy. After I bought the Buick, I got into the GM world and I like them a lot. The ‘60s GM cars, especially, just look incredible.”


But how did this all start? Family? Friends? “I’m still not completely sure,” he says. “With a lot of people, it’s been in their family or they’ve just done it their whole lives. I didn’t really get into it until halfway through high school. I think it grew out of a love for mechanical things.”

In high school he had a go-kart and his favorite thing to do was to ride it around and if something broke, he would fix it. “As I got older, I thought, well, the next step up is a car. So I bought the ’51 Buick and started working on it,” he says. “I was like, this is kind of fun. And then I found out I could make it a career and decided I was going to do that.”

Buiter also worked on mechanical lawnmowers, Lego Technic Sets and RC hobby cars. “That was something I really liked doing. When I was a kid, if I had an RC car and it stopped working, I would just take it apart. I never got them back together, but I would just take them apart to see how they work,” he says.


“I built from the ground up a new turbocharged engine for the car,” he says. “This was an amazing learning experience. When I look at the engine in my Corvair, I see every piece of that engine, and know that I was the one who put it there. Having built this engine and having it run successfully in the car brings me an incredible amount of satisfaction and pride.”

Edwin is already on his way to a career in the car world. He’s found a way to earn more money to buy parts and continue working on the cars he loves. “Last year, I saw a Volvo 240 on Marketplace for 300 bucks. I thought, ‘that’s a great car. It just needs a little bit of work.’ I bought it, got it running and roadworthy and I sold it for 1400 bucks. I then used the money to pay for my Corvair engine,” he says.


Getting into McPherson was a big step towards reaching his career goals. “I was a senior in high school, and I said, ‘what the heck am I going to do’? I had no idea. Then I heard about McPherson and decided to try it. It sounded more interesting than computer IT work or a desk job that would drive me crazy.”

Buiter has been networking within the McPherson community and restoration community in general. “I’ve also found a bunch of people in the Buick community. I know that’s how I found my internship,” he says.

In the next semester, he’ll be studying advanced engine courses, woodworking, advanced trim, machining and advanced sheet metal at McPherson.

For the summer he’ll have an internship at Adam Martin’s Antique Automotive Service in St. Louis. “Adam is an independent guy who restores ‘50s and ‘60s Buicks. I’ll be doing a lot of assembly work, cleaning parts, painting and detailing. And probably some paint and body work and a lot of mechanical work,’ he says.


His advice to parents guiding their children on their career paths? “Let your kid buy a project car but don’t let them buy too many,” he says. “My parents didn’t help me pay for the cars but my dad would get the truck and trailer out and drive me to buy a car. And, I was working at a local elementary school doing janitorial work, where my mom was the boss.”

As for what the collector car industry needs to know about his generation? “I think people need to respect what other people like in terms of cars,” he says. “It’s also important for people to experience cars because so much of what I like in cars comes from what I’ve already experienced. I wasn’t really a pre-war car guy. I was more into GM cars and now I’ve had a bunch of experience with pre-war touring cars and I really love them.”


Buiter is a loyal member of a Corvair Club. “The coolest part of being a member is the community. I love the cars and the technology. They are amazing,” he says. “We meet up every quarter, bring our cars to a shop and eat food and work on the cars. We also do driving tours to local museums and such.”

Following graduation, Buiter plans to find a shop or maybe a car collection to work for to build experience. His dream is to have an engine machine shop for rare custom engines “that are hard to find. Like, if we needed to, we could build an engine from scratch,” He adds. “Then, on the side we would have a museum to display historical engines.”


Earning one of the initial 10 Piston Scholarships is very important to him. “Student loans are terrifying and college is expensive,” he says. “The benefit won’t be seen until after graduation because that’s when you start paying off your loans and that bit of weight off your shoulders helps you be debt-free just a little sooner.

“If you’re interested in starting a shop, you’ll be able to make those financial decisions sooner.”

“Getting the Piston Scholarship, to me, means that I’m a valued part of the collector car world and that I’m worth something to someone. I’m not just here on my own. I’m like the kind of person the industry is looking for.”

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