Dave Shuklis, Modeling Pioneer
By Mark S. Gustavson
Starting in the early Sixties, model car pioneer Dave Shuklis led the way to high- tech
building. He developed working lights, roll up windows, folding convertible tops, multiple engine installation and dozens of cutting edge model techniques. His work was featured extensively in Car Model Magazine for which he served as Technical Editor for nearly a decade until his untimely death in 1974.
Dave Shuklis was one of the most prolific and inspiring modelers in the entire history of the
model car hobby. Though crippled by muscular dystrophy, Dave distinguished himself as one of the earliest and best practioneers of the art. Among his other talents, Dave pioneered working features on models,
eventually fashioning working convertible tops, operational doors, roll up windows, functioning lights, posable wheels and other working features.
Dave was such a superb modeler that he was appointed as the Technical Editor for Car Model magazine by publishers Bob McLoed and Oscar Koveleski. Dave served in that capacity for many years until his untimely death in the early Seventies. Dave's work was widely covered in many issues of Car Model magazine from 1962 through 1970, occasionally in Car Craft magazine, and in Scale Auto Enthusiast in 1983.
Following Dave's death, many of his models were displayed in the Auto World showroom in
Scranton, Pennsylvania. While there, Scale Auto Enthusiast featured a very informative article on the Shuklis collection.
After that article, Dave's surviving models returned to relative obscurity. Sometime in
the late Eighties, Dave's father reassumed possession of the models. Eventually, knowledge and recollection of the Shuklis collection largely disappeared except to a core group of enthusiasts who recalled and
greatly admired and honored the Shuklis Tradition.
With the establishment of the International Model Car Builders' Museum in 1989, one
of the chief goals was to locate and possibly acquire the Shuklis collection. Museum founder Mark S. Gustavson started a dialogue with Car Model magazine co-founder and Auto World magnate Oscar Koveleski (Bob McLoed passed away about a decade ago) with the objective of locating Dave's father and trying to convince him to part with his son's precious collection. After several letters and an equal number of phone calls between Mark and Ed Shuklis, permission was finally given to transfer the entire surviving collection to the Museum in September 1995.
A quick call to Museum supporter and owner of Replicas and Miniatures Company of Maryland,
Norman Veber, was made. Norm quickly agreed to set aside his business interests for a couple of days; Norm jumped in his car and made, in a single day, a nine-hour round trip to meet Mr. Shuklis and take possession
of the models. Sensing the great importance of his cargo, Norm drove carefully and, upon arriving home with the previous cargo, carefully catalogued the models and transmitted a list to the Museum.
After a few carefully selected displays at local club events, the precious cargo was packed
into a series of boxes and shipped to the Mark S. Gustavson, on behalf of the Museum. After receipt, Museum Trustee Mike Barlow photographed each model in its before condition (See accompanying photos). At that
point, in late October/early November 1996, Mark contacted trusted friends and modelers from across the United States into whose hands the historic models could be entrusted for a careful restoration.
Thereafter, a series of boxes were sent across the United States so that one of the most
important projects in the history of the model car hobby could get underway. The newly-drafted Museum Restoration Guide 2 accompanied each model in order to guide the restoration process.
Scheduled for return in late Summer 1996, each Shuklis model will be carefully photographed by
Museum Trustee Mike Barlow in Salt Lake City after which a series of major articles will be crafted and sent to each element of the hobby press: Model Car Journal, Car Modeler, Scale Auto Enthusiast, Scale Wheels, Plastic Fanatic, The Journal of the MCCA, the IPMS Journal and Fine Scale Modeler.
When completed, photographs of each model will appear on this WEB site for the Museum. Watch
this page later this year for a full set of photographs of each model. A special thanks is extended to each of the following individuals who have graciously taken the responsibility of restoring a Shuklis model:
Shuklis Model Restoration Project - Restorers
- "Bob Tailed Cat" sent to Museum Trustee Alan Raab, Pennsylvania.
- "Shamrock" sent to Museum Trustee Pat Covert. Photos
- '36 Ford sent to John Barker and Paul Northrop, New York
- Model A Sedan sent to Vince Lo Boxco and Rick Hanmore, New York
- '40 Ford Pickup, sent to Mike Felix, New York
- '49 Ford Coupe, sent to Robin Bowman, New York
- '40 Ford Phaeton, sent to Ron Weissinger, New York
- '30 Ford Model A Coupe, sent to Bill Taylor in Montana. This was the first model to be restored; was returned
to the Museum in January 1996. Photo
- '25 T Roadster sent to Tim Pentecost, Arizona.
- '32 Ford 5-Window sent to Joel Dirnberger. Photo
- Model A Coupe, sent to Cody Grayland, Oregon
- '57 Thunderbird, sent to John Mahaffey, Tennessee, second model to be finished and returned to the Museum in
- Two 1/32 scale '40 Fords, sent to Larry Boothe, Maryland.
- '40 Ford Coupe, sent to Ken Hamilton, New Jersey.
- '32 Ford Coupe, sent to Norman Veber.
- "Red Rever" being restored by Museum Trustee Mark S. Gustavson
- A. Shuklis Models Nos. 2-6, above, were restored by members of the Town of Newburg
Society of Model Engineers. Each model was disassembled, cleaned, repaired and then reassembled. Every effort was made to keep the Shuklis models as original as possible. In pursuit of that goal; if excess glue,
fingerprints or other obvious original construction mistakes were present on the models, they were left in place. If a piece was lost or could not be used because of a deteriorated condition the replacement part
was taken from a vintage kit of the same era. Repainting was kept to a bare minimum and in fact was mostly of the "touch up" type. The '30 Ford and '40 Ford pickup were in decidedly poor
condition and were close to being in the "is it worth the time to fix it why not start from scratch" condition. Upon completion of the restoration, each subject was polished with Meguiars #3. Unless
otherwise noted, all photographs were taken by Rick Hanmore.
The following photographs and accompanying text will acquaint you with the process:
Members of the Town of Newburg Society of Model Engineers stepped in which this
group of members to help out. From left to right, back row: Mike Felix, John Barker, Paul Northrop, Ron Weissinger, Robin Bowman, Vince Lo Bosco and Rick Hanmore.
These guys were fearless in their dedication to the project.
- · Photos Robin Bowman and '49 Ford
- · Photos John Barker, Paul Northrop and '36 Ford
- · Photos Mike Felix and '40 Ford Pickup
- · Photos Ron Weissinger and '40 Ford convertible
- · Photos Vince LoBosco and Rick Hanmore, '30 Ford
- · Photos Joel Dirnberger and '32 Ford Coupe
- · PhotosTim Pentecost and '25 T-Roadster - Tim Pentecost is an Arizona
- Dave's work appeared in a wide range of magazines. The following list, compiled
by the Museum Research Director Randy Vandraiss, will be supplemented as additional articles are located:
- · Complete Shuklis Feature Reference List