Labor of Love

Blaylocks share pastime restoring vintage vehicles

Julie and Eric Blaylock’s love for saving vintage things has given them a pastime that allows them to spend quality time together. Their latest project, a 1949 Plymouth Deluxe, is still a work in progress, although it has come a long way, said Julie, Farragut West Knox Chamber of Commerce president/CEO.
When Julie Blaylock, president/CEO of Farragut West Knox Chamber of Commerce, is not attending to Chamber duties, she is with her husband, David “Eric” Blaylock, restoring old vehicles at their Knoxville home.

Currently, the couple is restoring a 1949 Plymouth Deluxe. They are working both under the hood and on the body, returning it to its original condition.

The car started out with a flat black paint job. After stripping it of about 30 pounds — 10 layers of paint — the Blaylocks have taken it to the bare metal and decided they like it that way.

“It’s a conversation piece,” Eric said, smiling.

Julie said she got into the pastime after she married Eric in 2014.

“I never messed around with cars,” she said. Although her late father was hands-on, his interests pertained to woodworking and graphic arts.

“I got dragged into it 100 percent,” Julie said and laughed, adding, “(Eric’s) been a patient teacher.”

“One of the things I love about him is he invites me in to be a part of (the restoration). With everything we do, I think it’s time spent together, and it’s productive time together.”

“I get her set up on what needs to be done,” he said.

For Julie, her strengths lie in bodywork, not mechanics. She recalled her father using sandpaper on woodworking projects, so she knows grit.

“Stripping off the paint is cathartic, and it’s cool to reveal the layers of paint,” she said. “It’s really a good feeling to say, ‘we have accomplished something today.’”

While Julie conceded, “Mechanics are not my natural forte — I love the aesthetics — but (mechanics) comes easily to Eric,” she added, “I will watch him listen to the cars and diagnose an engine.”

Eric told Julie, “You sell yourself short.” He had watched her install a voltage regulator and a valve cover gasket on their 1970 Dodge pick-up truck.

Julie discovered she enjoyed working on cars.

“I get fulfillment, exercise, the sense I learned something today and the time we get to spend together,” she said.

Julie said she also loves to learn, to figure things out and “I like anything old, historic.”

For example, the Blaylocks bought a house built in 1935, so that love for rescuing old things naturally extended to cars.

“There’s something to the idea you saved something from an untimely demise,” Julie said.

For Eric, a University of Tennessee electrician by day, the pastime has been life-long.

“I’ve always been around cars,” he recalled. “I was 8 when I started helping my dad (work on cars). I just got right in the middle of it.”

“I’ve restored several in the past,” Eric said, adding the 1949 Plymouth Deluxe “is the oldest.”

The Blaylocks don’t have a real preference as to the make or model cars they choose.

“There’re some people who like Fords or Chevrolets,” Eric said. “I like anything that moves me.”

However, he added, “Of course, the older, the better.”

The Dodge pick-up truck they restored still sits in their driveway — Julie does not want to part with it — and another Dodge, a Meadowlark — was sold.

Eric said how much time a day he spends on a vehicle depends on “how I’m feeling when I get home (from work). You have to have balance.”

He added they try to shut down by 9:30 p.m.

“It’s work, but it’s enjoyable,” Julie said. “You will get started and then get in the middle of things. Before you know it, it’s 9 o’clock and you wonder, ‘Where did the day go?’

Eric, who handles buying the vehicles, said he usually finds them online — eBay, Craig’s List and even on Facebook, which is where he found the Plymouth and bought from a woman in Texas — sight unseen.

The Blaylocks enjoy the restored vehicles for a while then they may sell them.

“I enjoy (a car) until it runs its course,” Eric said.

“Then, when the time and opportunity seems right, we move on to something else.”

However, the couple does not show the vehicles, preferring instead to simply enjoy them without seeking others’ approval.