Miller on a mission to save old cars | Louisbourg



OSAWATOMY – Working on old cars has been a lifelong passion for James Miller.

Miller, who has a body shop in the Osawatomie countryside, is particularly fond of old Fords. He’s been working on cars for 30 years, and he did it for two years as a hobby. He also worked in the body shop business for a few years.

Sparkburn Hotrods, the store right next to the house, has become his new home.

“I’ve always been in cars,” Miller said. “My grandfather was a mechanic. My father loved cars.

His grandfather Ed Miller worked as a mechanic for Ford Motor Company in Manhattan.

Chuck Miller, his father, was passionate about drag racing and worked on cars in the arena.

James Miller wants to bring rusty gold back to life.

“I appreciate it,” he said. “I usually take home stuff that most people would throw away, according to everyone I know.”

He is currently working on a 1969 Cutlass for a client. Miller also helps his nephew, Dylan Franklin of Texas, restore a 1957 Chevrolet Bel Air Post.

“Dad bought it in 1971 and it was in storage for 30 years,” he said. “I guess they’re sick of paying for storage on it. He gave it to me.

“I thought it was a perfect car for what Dylan wanted,” Miller said. “We’ll get him painted before he returns to Texas this summer.”

Dylan, a sophomore in high school, is still learning the ropes of the restaurant trade, Miller said.

Miller worked at Kulture Restorations in Gardner. He also appeared on the Gear Dogs TV show with Nate Boyer.

Sparkburn Hotrods is currently working on a restoration project with Stacey David for the Gears TV show.

“We’ve been in episodes where we’ve picked up the cheetah,” he said. “We’ll be in other episodes when we deliver it to them.”

Dylan was busy welding a part for his 1957 Chevrolet. He saw too many holes on his first try and came back to them.

“You have to take your time, you don’t want to distort it,” Miller said. “The best way to see how you’re doing on your weld is to turn on a flashlight on the back of it. If you see any light holes, you need to do more soldering.

“He’s learning right now,” Miller said. “This is how we learn.”

Miller said he liked the challenge.

“They are all difficult to work with,” he said. “They all have inherent problems, whether it’s finding parts or whatever.”

Miller was busy making a piece of metal to fill in the 1957 Chevrolet.

“I am doing this or we have to buy a whole new panel,” Miller said. “He’s on a tight budget. I do a lot of this stuff just so we can save some money for him and really see him through and drive him to high school.

The 1957 Chevrolet is a small block, Miller said. They were looking for a four speed for this.

Some of the classic vehicles on Miller’s wishlist are a 1937 Ford and a 1955 Ford F-100 truck. Whether he’s in town, relaxing at home or at the store, chances are good that Miler wears a Ford hat.

“If you can’t tell it by the hat, it’s a Ford guy,” Miller’s wife Meisha said.Miller is proud to be an American and loves his Fords. “I’m a Ford guy,” he said. “They are one of the few made and owned by Americans.”

Miller volunteered his time to help mentor youth through the Hispanic Leadership Lowrider Bike Club at Olathe North High School.

“The good thing is that they work with local police,” Miller said. “They are part of the mentoring group. It’s a great organization.

“We are trying to keep the interest in old cars with the younger ones,” he said. “You know, put down your cell phone, grab a tool and have fun, use your imagination. “

Dylan’s interest in vintage cars helps fuel the fire to share the passion for classics, Miller said.

“Dylan is a rare child,” he said. “He is here working with his hands and not on his cell phone.

“I learned to do it on my own,” Miller said. “I learned from the hard knocks. I just like to do it. We just restore whatever someone wants to restore.

Some of the classic automobiles Miller restored included a 1970 Chevelle, a 1955 Chevrolet pickup truck, a 1969 Cutlass, and a 1949 Woody.

Miller can be contacted by email at and on the web at


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