| For more than three decades, Peter Folsom has fine tuned his respect for and love of cars - especially older custom cars.
Folsom is the owner and solo craftsman at Blue Valley Kustom, a one-man auto restoration gallery in the Walla Walla Regional Airport's business park. He began developing his unique skills at Walla Walla Community College, graduating from the school's Auto Body Repair Technology program in 1979. After seven years working in collision repair shops at local auto dealers, Folsom stepped out on his own in 1986, renting from the Port of Walla Walla the C Street building that's been his workshop location ever since.
Over the past 26 years, Folsom has become an artist at restoring older custom classics and hot rods. His favorites may be early '50s "James Dean" style Mercury coupes (he owns four), but his portfolio includes Mustangs, Camaros, Chargers and dated "muscle cars" that owners want to look "better than new."
The oldest car he has restored is a 1928 Model A Ford...and he's currently working on a 1941
American Bantam, the ever-popular '67 Ford Mustang and a 1950 Lincoln that's much like his beloved Mercurys with a "chopped top and longer front end."
You won't see a host of "cars-in-waiting" at Blue Valley Kustom. First of all, it takes an owner with dedication and a commitment to perfection before turning it over to Folsom.
And it takes time.
Folsom describes his personal interest in what he does as "very intense."
"It takes a lot of patience to do this kind of thing well," he emphasizes.
It all begins with the selection of team members. Folsom's specialty is body work. He relies on
others to help with engines, electrical systems, brakes and suspensions.
The components of a project car are distributed to other craftsmen who put their expertise to work before the vehicle is reassembled.
Folsom's work involves examination and restoration of every body part and once flaws are fixed, every surface - even floorboards - are finished with multiple coats of paint that make the artist and the owner proud.
When Folsom has the body restored and team members are finished with their assignments, everything comes back together for presentation to the owner.
For some, it then means "show time" with the vehicle put on public display. For others, the restored vehicle is an item of personal pride that may not leave the garage.
For Folsom, it's the reward of satisfaction that comes with a job well done.
Folsom says he can complete a start-to-finish restoration in "maybe six to nine months."
Remember what he says, "It takes a lot of patience to restore a work of art."