Founder and CEO of C.A.R.S. Charles Cool has loved working on cars since childhood. Even before he was legally able to drive, he restored a 1939 Chevy coupe, 1939 Chevy two-door sedan, and 1939 four-door sedan. Following high school, he entered the Army and continued honing his skills by working on military equipment. After being honorably discharged, he came to Torrance, California, and opened his own garage specializing in auto restoration and air conditioning.
In the intervening decades, Cool has regularly mentored young technicians and mechanics on an intern basis in his shop. Several years ago, however, he decided to formalize the training he offers through a nonprofit vocational training program; Charlie’s Auto Restoration Service is the culmination of his vision. Starting small, he has been working with two or three students at a time since C.A.R.S. received its tax-exempt status in 2011. In the past year alone, he and his team of students, in collaboration with experts in auto restoration trades, have restored to mint condition a derelict 1965 Mustang that had been sitting in a garage in Texas for many years (see supporting materials), at the same time updating the engine and drive-train. They have also modernized a 1965 Chevy Nova and 1955 Chevy convertible under the hood. (These cars came to the shop with new paint and upholstery already in place.)
Our car donation program was conceived of Charlies desire to keep the youth interested in the history and restoration of automobiles. Rather than rely on private donations and traditional fundraising methods to support our growing charity, we train the students to restore the cars to sell and put the profits back into the school. We also made the decision to process all car donations in house, allowing the full proceeds of each donation to go directly to our education programs.