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Delwyn Friedl

Local man loses arm in accident, continues love of restoring cars

By Brian Champagne, Contributor | Posted - Mar. 15, 2018 at 11:21 a.m.

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Editor's note: This is part of a series at featuring some of Utah's coolest cars. If you own a customized vehicle — from sports cars to semitrucks — email with a photo of the vehicle and a brief description for consideration.SALT LAKE CITY — Delwyn Friedl has loved building cars since he was a kid making them with lumber and buggy wheels. But what happened when he was 18 years old should have put an end to that.

When he was 12 years old, there was a 1933 Chevrolet three-window coupe being passed around the neighborhood because no one could get it running right. Friedl begged it from his brother, pestered the local mechanics for tips, and ended up racing it. He also crashed and destroyed it, but that’s not what should have stopped his car building.

In high school, Friedl built his own hot rod by putting a Hemi engine into a Model A Roadster pickup and started drag racing. He was well on his way to becoming a serious car builder.

Friedl was working at a company that made animal feed, and while trying to free up a jammed auger machine, his arm was pulled in. He lost it between the wrist and elbow. The loss of his limb didn't seem to slow him down, however. He has worn a hook since 1957 and has worked in construction or truck driving for years.

After a construction layoff in 1992, he spent eight years restoring cars for other people, then for himself. Friedl said that except for upholstery and machining, he does all of the work himself, which eliminates downtime in the restoration process since he can stay busy.

With one working hand, he has pulled engines and done everything else you can think of to restore cars.

He estimated he has fixed up between 50 and 60 cars over the years. He still has about 10, including an original-built Buick (so says the title) powered by two Buick V-8 engines connected together. He said he’s driven it up to 120 miles per hour and it’s “real smooth.”

Friedl said cars got in his blood when he was a kid and he couldn’t shake it. These days the work keeps him busy and he still enjoys it. He and his wife Joy do a lot of drives, tours and car shows.

He has built Model T's, Model A's, a salt flats racer and a '60s convertible. His garage is full of beautiful cars, but none of them came in that way. He estimates he puts in about 1,000 hours on a typical restoration, and he does it all single-handed.

Brian Champagne has reported on cars for more than nine years. He holds a master's degree in communications from the University of the Pacific and teaches at Utah State University.


Brian Champagne

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