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The Wendling Brothers: Masters of Timeless Craftsmanship

Contributed By Hagerty Drivers Foundation

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The Hagerty Drivers Foundation is a 501c3 nonprofit launched in 2021 by Hagerty. With the purpose of shaping the future of car culture while celebrating our automotive past, the Hagerty Drivers Foundation provides scholarships for students in the automotive field of education, as well as students seeking formal driver education training. In addition, the Foundation continues to build a federally recognized program – the National Historic Vehicle Register – that documents and records the important history of our automotive past.

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In the heart of Fleetwood, Pennsylvania, during the late 1920s, a legacy was born. George and Robert Wendling, two brothers with an unparalleled passion for automobiles, embarked on a journey that would forever etch their names into walls of automotive restoration history. Their story is not just a tale of metal, paint, and engines; it’s a narrative woven with the threads of innovation, craftsmanship, and an enduring love for the automobile.

The Wendling brothers began their illustrious careers as apprentice bodybuilders at the Fleetwood Metal Body Company, a place where the art of constructing a car from scratch was not just a job but a calling. Here, amidst the ash wood frames and hand-formed aluminum, the brothers honed their skills, contributing to the creation of some of the best coachbuilt cars in the world. Their hands worked on vehicles destined for the likes of Packard and Lincoln, and even the Duesenberg, marking the beginning of their indelible impact on the automotive world.

Despite the opportunity to move with Fleetwood to Detroit under the acquisition by General Motors, the Wendling brothers chose to lay down their roots in McConkey, Pennsylvania. Here, they founded their own auto body repair business in 1937, marking the inception of a legacy that would span generations. Their shop became a sanctuary for neighborhood cars, a place where the craftsmanship and durability of Fleetwood’s golden era lived on.

The restoration work began in earnest in the 1950s, as the brothers’ reputation for unparalleled work began to attract clientele from across the Northeast. The Wendling brothers didn’t just repair cars; they breathed new life into them, restoring vehicles to their former glory with an attention to detail that was second to none. Their work wasn’t about achieving first prize at shows, though their restorations often did; it was about preserving history and ensuring that these mechanical marvels could enchant future generations with their beauty and elegance.

As the years passed, the automotive world evolved, but the Wendling brothers’ influence remained steadfast. Their legacy is not just in the cars they restored; it’s in the enduring impact they had on those who worked alongside them, on the community they helped build, and on the generations of craftsmen they inspired. The Wendling brothers may have seen their work as just a part of everyday life, but to those who know their story, they are giants among men, pioneers who paved the way for the preservation of automotive history.