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JH Restoration a class winner on A&E’s Battle of the Builders Categorical Instances

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For brothers Jesse and Jordan Henke, the shell of the 1987 Ford Merkur XR4Ti that had been a lot part of their youth held a magnificence solely a automobile restoration store proprietor might love.

The ugly duckling held some lovely recollections, and over the previous 4 years the Henkes, together with assist from their group at their enterprise JH Restorations, have turned their ardour into a phenomenal award winner within the sport compact division on the Specialty Gear Market Affiliation’s (SEMA) 2023 Battle of the Builders competitors in Las Vegas.

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The cable tv community the Historical past Channel filmed the November competitors and can air this system at 9 a.m. on Saturday, Jan. 27.

Jordan Henke showing his car engine
Jordan Henke of JK Restorations in Windsor reveals what’s underneath the hood of his restored 1987 Merkur on Wednesday, Jan. 17, 2024 together with his restored 1987 Merkur. Picture by Dan Janisse /Windsor Star

“I by no means favored the look of it a lot, however I knew the automobile from my highschool and faculty days (at St. Clair Faculty),” stated Jesse Henke, whose shut pal Tim Lewis initially owned the automobile. “We rode collectively in it on a regular basis.

“I had a 1969 Beaumont and we’d work on our vehicles aspect by aspect. The automobile was particular to me due to the recollections connected to it.

“It’s essential have that keenness to tackle a job of restoring it like we did.”

Lewis offered the automobile when he moved to Colorado for work, however the Henkes by no means misplaced observe of the automobile over the following 20 years. A neighborhood auto store proprietor had purchased it and used it through the years for components.

4 years in the past, Jesse Henke purchased the Merkur and the method of rebuilding the automobile to fashionable requirements with a extra eye-catching look started.

Although the Henkes didn’t win the general SEMA title, which went to a Nebraska store’s sizzling rod automobile, it’s their second prime 10 total end in 4 tries at SEMA’s Battle of the Builders. In addition they cracked the highest 10 with their 1973 Toyota Celica in 2019.

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“It’s totally different than numerous the stuff you see at SEMA,” Jesse Henke stated.

“It’s a cross of German engineering, its Ford product and it’s rear-wheel drive. We thought, let’s do one thing fashionable and pull this factor again into the Nineteen Eighties.”

Ford provided the turbo-charged three-door hatchback on the market in North America from 1985 to 1989 utilizing its European Ford Sierra mannequin as the bottom. The Sierra was additionally a well-liked alternative for rally racing.

“I used to be by no means actually keen on the Merkur,” joked Jordan Henke. “I believed it was ugly, however after doing all this work, it’s rising on me.

“I additionally didn’t perceive the heritage of the automobile as a rally automobile racer after I was youthful.”

The intensive overhaul of the automobile started with a 3D screening of the automobile’s physique and elements in order that new bumpers, flares, and skirts might be machined out of fibreglass. The sheet steel within the automobile was stable, needing just some spot touch-ups for rust.

The Henkes put in Ford’s turbocharged, fuel-injected 2.3-litre EcoBoost engine from a 2016 Mustang and created a brand new suspension to accommodate the change.

The inside has extra fashionable electronics and customised gauge shows. Chatham’s Nesic Design restored the Focus RS seats which were put in with a mix of hand-wrapped leather-based and material.

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The outside additionally received an replace to Ford’s Space 51 blue.

Jordan Henke checks out his Merkur
Jordan Henke checks out his restored and award-winning 1987 Merkur at JK Restorations in Windsor on Wednesday, Jan. 17, 2024 together with his restored 1987 Merkur. Picture by Dan Janisse /Windsor Star

Jordan Henke stated successful the game compact class is an actual honour as a result of it’s your rivals that do the ultimate rating.

“A panel of 4 judges narrows the record all the way down to the highest 12 in every of the 4 classes, then your different 11 rivals decide the autos to choose the winners,” Jordan Henke stated. “You get to speak about your automobile and that’s whenever you study what everybody went via to get thus far.

“When these vehicles are up on the hoists, you possibly can see the standard in a man’s work.”

He stated the primary motivation for getting into SEMA is that the competitors is a wonderful platform for displaying JH Restorations’s capabilities. Henke added it has resulted in new enterprise for the store, which has restored autos starting from the Forties to Nineteen Eighties for patrons largely situated between Windsor and Toronto.

The restored Merkur is now drawing consideration and demand for appearances.

Ford Efficiency, the motor sports activities and racing division of Ford Motor Co., will characteristic the automobile at its sales space at Detroit’s Woodward Dream Cruise in August. The automobile may also be displayed on the Detroit Autorama (March 1-3), Toronto’s Motorama (March 8-10) and the Carlisle Ford Nationals in Pennsylvania (Could 31-June 2).

The automobile shall be displayed at a number of native basic auto reveals this yr starting June 15 at LaSalle’s Vehicles For A Trigger.

The Henkes’ Merkur can be on the quilt of the European journal Quick Ford.

Dwaddell@postmedia.ca

twitter.com/winstarwaddell

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