Unknown to many, there are loosely-formed groups of automobile enthusiasts, often mechanics and their groupies, who meet periodically to show off their vehicles, share some laughs and to admire the ingenuity of their work.
Mike Covic of Kamsack is one of those enthusiasts who, capable of doing “a little bit of everything,” calls his interest in cars a hobby, or even an addiction.
A self-confessed redneck, or driveway mechanic, Covic spends what time he can tinkering, repairing, painting and generally fixing up cars, but not necessarily the classic and restored cars one sees in car shows.
“I prefer the cars from the 1960s, 70s and 80s,” Covic said recently when he discussed his passion for the hobby. “They don’t make them like they used to.”
At his Third Street home in Kamsack, Covic has about six cars, half of which are waiting to be worked on, while the rest are not only road-worthy, but also after having been worked on by him are now worth showing to other enthusiasts at “meets.”
He had recently returned from a Prairie Honda Syndicate meet held on a Yorkton mall parking lot where he showed a 1990 Honda Civic CRX. He showed his 1987 Corvette at a Moose Jaw show a month ago.
“We usually meet every few weeks,” he said of the enthusiasts who keep track of happenings that they’re interested in on Facebook.
Explaining his hobby, Covic said he either buys or takes in a vehicle on trade and then checks out everything, “including routers, brakes and bushings,” and then works up to the motor, and if it needs to, he re-builds it. He also takes care of any rust problems and even places orders for new seats or other things needed in the interior.
“I’m addicted to anything with a motor,” he said.
Those vehicles, he keeps, shows or trades with other car enthusiasts. He lets the vehicle go if “a trade or offer is too good to pass up.”
Covic, who works setting up loads for an American trucking company that hauls “all kinds of stuff,” also does the maintenance on his father’s semi-truck. He is a son of Donna and Nick Covic of Kamsack, who are long haul truck drivers.
“I learned some mechanics in school and then got a few jobs here and there,” he said. “At 14 I had a yard with vehicles on it and in order to show off to a neighbourhood girl, I got a vehicle going in order to be able to go to town with her to pick up munchies. It’s a good thing I didn’t get stopped.”
Born in Winnipeg, Covic was raised in southern Manitoba and in the Swan River area.
“I started working for farmers and was able to do all sorts of things,” he said, adding that in his early 20s, he went to Alberta where first he was put on a machine, but was soon the service technician for a highway company. He then worked in vehicle maintenance on the oil patch.
He then lived in Norquay and Regina before moving to Kamsack.
“Yes, I’d like to have a shop, or somewhere to customize vehicles,” he said. “People like what I do. I like to help people with their problems with motors.
“I try to make a car look like the day it came off the lot,” he said.
Currently in his possession are a 1974 Charger for which a motor is being rebuilt; a 1977 Trans Am, which needs a motor and transmission; a 1978 King Cobra which has a motor that needs rebuilding; a 1987 Corvette; the 1990 CRX which he took to Yorkton, and a 1989 CRX.
“It takes me a day or two to rebuild a motor.”
Covic said he has a long list of vehicles he’d like to lay his hands on. That list includes a 1967 Shelby GT 500, which is a type of Mustang, and the 1967 Impala SS.
“Those cars have kept their value, plus they look aggressive.”
Covic picks up a small plastic bag containing a couple handfuls of a grit-looking substance and says it is an additive to paint which gives a vehicle an iridescent appearance, from black to blue and purple, depending on how the sunlight hits the surface. He explains how he is able to construct a tent in his back yard and then uses a painting kit and compressor to repaint a car.
But, as a hobby or addiction, cars don’t take up all of his spare time.
A “gamer,” he collects ornate hand-held devices similar to the weapons seen in role-playing computer games and explained how at one time he had constructed his own forge that, along with an anvil and hammers, he used to make swords.
With his body decorated with a large number of tattoos and piercings, Covic said he made most of the tattoos himself and had once worked as a tattoo artist, using his own original designs. He recently worked as a cook, has built computers and has worked on roofing, siding and stuccoing jobs.
“I always want to learn; to do something to be useful.”
His home is filled with a large assortment of computer screens and electronic devices he uses for work and play. He plays the electric guitar and is working on the repair of an acoustic guitar. In the past, he has been a guitarist and singer for two bands that play metal music.
“Playing guitar is relaxing. It clears the mind,” he said.