Coventry Foundation provides financial aid, student projects

Published 09.06.2022

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Described by its chairman as a “little fish in a big pond,” the Coventry Foundation nonetheless has provided vast opportunities for Pennsylvania College of Technology students through an endowed scholarship and provision of hands-on automotive work.

“We were small at the time, but we really wanted to support the next generation of car people, preferably in restoration,” said Gary Kincel, who heads the foundation board, recalling the genesis of its partnership with the college about five years ago. “Gary Hagopian, one of our board members, brought the school to our attention and led the effort to create a scholarship fund.”

That fund – which met its goal of full $25,000 endowment last year, ahead of schedule – provides annual awards to full-time students enrolled in the two-year collision repair major or the automotive restoration certificate program. Preference is given to students with an expressed interest in restoration, particularly related to British cars.

Coventry Foundation officers and Pennsylvania College of Technology students – some of whom have since graduated – met on campus during the spring semester when partial restoration work was completed on a loaned 1973 E-series Jaguar. From left are Coventry's Amos Kunkle Jr., treasurer, and Gary Kincel, board chairman; and students Logan M. Haga, of Chambersburg; Jason M. Wollermann, of Egg Harbor Township, N.J.; Maxwell T. Empson, of Franklin; Nathan A. Persing, of Shamokin; and Anthony M. Maguschak, of Weatherly. Haga is enrolled in collision repair technology; Wollermann holds an associate degree in collision repair technology and is pursuing a bachelor's in applied management; Persing has an associate degree in collision repair technology and is enrolled in automotive restoration; Empson graduated with associate degrees in collision repair technology and automotive restoration technology; and Maguschak has an associate degree in automotive technology and a certificate in automotive restoration. (Photo provided)The Coventry Foundation reinforced that significant investment during the Fall 2019 semester with the delivery of a 1973 E-series Jaguar, an extended loan designed to let students acquaint themselves with a classic British automobile. The 12-cylinder vehicle, owned by only one family, was to be entrusted to the program’s most engaged and dedicated students for a partial restoration.

“It was in decent shape, but mechanically tired, and we thought it would be a great project for them,” Kincel explained. “The bonnet (hood) needed to be untwisted, and it required some attention to various components – the cooling system, the hydraulics, the brakes.”

The foundation found reliable partners in collision repair instructor Roy H. Klinger and in SNG Barratt, a vendor who donated parts to the restoration effort.

A handful of students had the pleasurable challenge of working on the Jaguar over the ensuing years, most notably Jim A. McCormick, formerly enrolled in automotive technology and automotive restoration, who is continuing his studies in metal fabrication technology this fall; and Anthony M. Maguschak, a Coventry Foundation Scholarship recipient who earned an associate degree in automotive technology with high honors in May 2021 and a certificate in automotive restoration with distinction in August.

One doesn’t have to talk with either student long before realizing the breadth of their automotive knowledge, both what they possessed before enrolling and what they gained in college.

“Well, I actually was looking for an automotive restoration college and I did a Google search,” McCormick said. “I looked through the options and Penn College was really the best one I found. It was the closest to my parents’ house, too, so I went with Penn College. And I love my experience so far.”

McCormick, originally from Australia and most recently residing in Pittsburgh – with stops in Japan and Ireland – acquired a hand-me-down love of automobiles from his well-traveled father, whose restoration work includes a 1924 Holden-bodied Chevrolet and a 1932 J2-model MG purchased in the United Kingdom.

“I just started working on the Jaguar in my free time during my metal-shaping class,” he said. “From there, I worked on it when I could, sorting out the brakes and the carburetors, and it just escalated.”

McCormick (who documented his work in a PowerPoint presentation) delved into a lengthy task list that included a substantial makeover of the fuel and cooling system: He removed and replaced the fuel pump, cleaned the entire fuel system, replaced all of the rubber fuel lines, cleaned the fuel filter and its housing, and performed an overhaul on the carburetors.

“I discovered that one of the carbs was actually leaking fuel out of the overflow, so I decided to take it apart,” he said. “I ordered four full rebuild kits for them. I cleaned everything. I made sure it was all nice and I tested the float. I put it in a beaker of water to make sure that it floated and it did. I rebuilt all of them, and they're working really nice.”

McCormick ran out of time before he worked through his entire wish list. There were the inevitable complications, such as a cracked radiator, and the subsequent troubleshooting that ate up classroom hours.

“But I did what I could,” he said. “I was able to get the car running, but I wasn't able to get it driving because, obviously, you need brakes to drive a car.”

McCormick spent this summer at the Vintage Motorcar Co., a full-service restoration shop in Inwood, West Virginia.

“They have a couple of E-types and a few Corvettes,” he said. “They also have three real Shelby Cobras, which is pretty cool.”

Conversation with Maguschak, similarly, reflects far more than passing familiarity with his chosen field. But despite his teenage purchase of a 1997 Jeep Grand Cherokee – “I pushed it home, actually,” he said – vehicles weren’t his first choice.

“I was set that I wanted to do wildlife technology out of high school. I got accepted into Penn State and, right before I was getting ready to go, I was talking with my parents. I said, ‘You know, I really don't think I could sit in the classroom. So I'm not going to college.’ And they said, ‘Well, what else would you want to do?’ I said, ‘Well, I like working on cars,’ so we found this school. And I said if I get into Penn College, then I’ll go for automotive. And while I was here, they sucked me into the restoration program!”

While completing his two-year degree, he served an internship at a Blaise Alexander dealership. And because he was more experienced than some of his peers, who were still doing basic engine work, he inherited the Coventry car from McCormick.

“Mr. Klinger said, ‘Hey, there’s a Jag sitting in the corner; it just needs the brakes bled.’”

“They said they can't get a pedal,” Maguschak added. “They tried bleeding it for hours, so I went over all of it and realized that that car actually has two master cylinders. The secondary one was the one that they kept checking, but there was a ripped cup on the primary one. So I got a replacement one and I put that on. Now the brakes work!”

He worked closely with Coventry Foundation President George Camp for technical advice and sourcing of parts.

Maguschak interned this summer at the NB Center for American Automotive Heritage in Allentown, where Nicola Bulgari, retired vice chairman of the Italian luxury jewelry brand, has assembled a collection of about 180 cars.

Coventry FoundationKincel, who delivered the Jaguar to campus with Hagopian in October 2019, returned for it last semester – meeting Maguschak, attending the Penn College Motorsports Association’s Spring Car Show and assessing the students’ work on the vehicle.

“I wasn’t ready for it to be picked up, to be completely honest with you,” Maguschak said. “I would have liked to have gone over the systems; checking over things that weren’t just right or things that needed to get finished. I know the rack was still leaking when I left it, but I unfortunately ran out of time.”

“There were still one or two things that they didn’t get around to dealing with,” Kincel acknowledged, “but it starts fabulously, runs, drives – and the brakes work.”

Headquartered in Columbia, South Carolina, the Coventry Foundation aims to perpetuate the heritage of Jaguar automobiles in North America through an archive of printed material, tools and vintage automobiles; annual scholarships to students; and recognition of accredited restoration programs.

The Jaguar has been returned to its position in the foundation’s permanent collection, which is housed in several facilities. Coventry has its main library and research center in Columbia; a display at the British Sports Car Hall of Fame in Petersburg, Virginia; and a second library in conjunction with Classic Showcase in Oceanside, California.

Those interested in contributing to the Coventry Foundation Scholarship fund or establishing a scholarship may send a donation to the Penn College Foundation, One College Avenue, Williamsport, PA 17701; give online; call College Relations toll-free at 866-GIVE-2-PC (866-448-3272); or contribute directly to the Coventry Foundation.

Students interested in any of the more than 350 scholarships administered by the Penn College Foundation should complete an application.

For more about the automotive restoration technology and collision repair technology majors in Penn College’s School of Engineering Technologies, call 570-327-4516.

For more about the college, a national leader in applied technology education, email the Admissions Office or call toll-free 800-367-9222.